Energy, Excitement, Enthusiasm

Feb. 18, 2003

By Chris Purser
Athletics Media Relations Student Asst.

Knowing your role on a team is the most important step toward becoming a leader on the court. Learning the system, studying the reactions of squad's current leaders, and preparing yourself for that vital step to become a leader are what it takes to make it in the Southeastern Conference today. And, that is exactly what Kendrick Fox is doing this season.

The 6-foot-7 sophomore forward/guard is not just idly sitting on the Rebel bench, as he is absorbing as much knowledge as one can during the campaign. While other players may use their time on the court to display their athleticism and skills, Fox has used his time to also work on his leadership skills - something that he is doing to prepare him for this year and the next two seasons to come.

"I'm taking mental notes from our seniors on how to be a leader," said Fox. "One day, my time to be that leader will come, and when it does, I want to be ready."

While Fox has yet to move into that coveted leadership role as a Rebel, he can draw from his high school experience. The first Lafayette High School men's player to sign with Rebels, Fox suffered a torn ACL during his senior season. But, rather than have surgery right after the injury occurred, Fox instead chose to have the surgery following the season and played the final 16 games of his high school career through the pain, showing the true colors of a leader that didn't want to leave his team stranded.

"It was painful," Fox said. "Playing those 16 games and knowing that I couldn't do the things that I was used to doing on the court was hard. But, I had to go out and be there for my teammates."

Following the surgery, a healthy Fox signed with Ole Miss, choosing to be close to his family and friends. The results have been positive. Fox played in all 31 games as a true freshman in 2001-02, including the Rebels' run in the NCAA Tournament. He shot 49 percent from the field, and even started one game. That performance in his freshman campaign showed the Ole Miss faithful that Fox has the ability to become a leader at the collegiate level. Now it is just a matter of time before he will be called upon to fill that role.

"I have to be ready," Fox said. "We have a great group of senior leaders, guys like David (Sanders) and Derrick (Allen). But one day, their time at Ole Miss will come to an end. When my number is called, I have to be ready."

Fox said that, while he will try to lead by example, he would like to be more of a vocal leader on the court. That vocal leadership is something he is learning from current senior David Sanders.

"I try to be more vocal," said Fox. "He (David) is kind of like a big brother. If you mess up in practice or in the game, he will come to you and tell you not to worry, but just go out there and handle your business."

Fox has already begun to display his leadership abilities. In the Rebels' home victory over Alabama Jan. 21, Fox used his energy and enthusiasm to get the bench and the Ole Miss fans into the game. He continued to show his always upbeat attitude even when the Rebels fell behind in the first half. The results were an extremely loud crowd and an Ole Miss bench that was standing on its feet for most of the game.

Fox fueled the fire even more early in the second half, hitting a three-pointer that helped start a Rebel scoring run and energized the Rebel faithful even more. But to Fox, the excitement that he brings to the arena is just what comes natural to him.

"I try to keep everybody upbeat," Fox said. "I try to get the crowd and the bench involved. I love it when the crowd is so loud that other teams have to call timeout just get the play from the bench."

Fox said that his goal is to use what he has learned to help this team make a deep run in this year's NCAA Tournament.

"We are a family that helps each other out," said Fox. "Our seniors have made to the tournament, even the Sweet Sixteen. I want to see them take that next step."

And, with a future leader like Fox supporting the Ole Miss Rebels, that goal is within reach.

 

 

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