Kyre’ Allison. Larry Hisle. Jeff Lisath. Craig Tubbs.
Those are just a few of the many outstanding athletes to come through the basketball powerhouse that is the Portsmouth Trojans.
However, there’s another name that will be set to join them once he graduates from Portsmouth High School in May.
With 1,341 points, two AP All-Southeast District honors, and an additional pair of AP All-Ohio awards, Kendal Reynolds has proven himself as one of the most gifted athletes to represent the Trojans over the last quarter-century. He is, in fact, the basketball program’s fourth leading scorer all time — ahead of Lisath and just behind Hisle, Tubbs, and Allison.
But beyond his athletic talents, the multidimensional forward is a hard worker and an unselfish teammate. Those qualities allowed Rio Grande to take a flyer from a familiar face in Rio Grande assistant Len Collins — a 2012 Portsmouth graduate — as Reynolds signed with the RedStorm en route to continuing his academic and athletic career on Monday morning.
For both Reynolds and Portsmouth head coach Gene Collins, the elation was evident on each of their faces.
“Signing with Rio Grande (on Monday) is great,” Reynolds said. “It’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to play basketball, had the opportunity, and got a scholarship, so it’s really a perfect situation for me.”
“Kendal’s a hardworking kid,” Collins said. “I’m just tickled to death that he’s getting an opportunity to go to college, not just from a basketball standpoint, but from an academic standpoint. It’s a tribute to him because he’s put in the work.”
When one watches Reynolds compete on the floor, there’s little question that he is, indeed, a worker.
Despite playing both forward positions at an undersized 6-2, Reynolds made up for what he gave up in height with his relentless energy on both ends of the floor and his humble, but competitive pedigree. The combination of mental traits were what gave opponents — whether they were inside or outside of the Ohio Valley Conference — fits.
“I was fortunate,” Reynolds said. “I played with some good players. Ky’re Allison was a great player and a great teammate while at Portsmouth. He’s one of the people that made me work hard, and that allowed me to be where I am today.”
Even though Reynolds was a highly productive member of the Portsmouth lineup throughout his basketball career, the forward really stepped up his game as an upperclassman.
During his junior year, Reynolds earned Second-Team All-Southeast District honors and Honorable Mention All-Ohio accolades after averaging 17.4 points per affair.
However, with Allison, the program’s all-time leading scorer, off to Marshall, it looked as if Collins, Reynolds, and the rest of the Portsmouth unit would be lucky to finish with a winning record.
But Reynolds wasn’t having it.
Behind the senior’s efforts, along with the play of Ty Oliver, Mike Malone, and Daniel Jordan, among many others, Portsmouth not only finished with a winning record, but advanced to the district semifinals on the strength of a 17-win campaign — which actually proved to be an improvement over its 2016 result after the Trojans fell in the sectional finals the year prior. Reynolds finished with a team-leading 16.3 points per bout en route to repeating on his Second-Team All-Southeast District and Honorable Mention All-Ohio honors from 2016.
“We were hoping to be somewhere in the neighborhood of .500,” Collins said. “Instead, we ended up winning 17 games, and a lot of it had to do with the buy-in from Kendal. He always played hard, he always practiced hard, but most importantly, he sacrificed a lot from a personal standpoint in order for our team to win.”
“It was a good year,” Reynolds said. “Everybody thought that we were going to struggle because we lost Ky’re, but we all came together and we ended up with a successful season by winning 17 games and making a run to the district tournament. We had a pretty good run.”
A run that Reynolds credits to his veteran head coach.
“(Gene) Collins is a great coach,” Reynolds said. “Not a lot of people see the things that I see. He’s a really good coach, and he’s great for the Portsmouth basketball program.”
At Rio Grande, Reynolds won’t be too far from home. In fact, part of Portsmouth will be with him, in the sense that Len Collins, who is the son of Gene and a player on the 2011 and 2012 Portsmouth units that went to the OHSAA Division III State Final Four, is in his first season on the staff.
“The bonus of him getting to play basketball is great for not only him but for myself, because not only is he going to Rio Grande to play ball, he’s going to Rio Grande to play under my son (Len), who is there as an assistant coach,” Collins said. “It’s good to see another Trojan get an opportunity.”
The small town feel of Rio Grande, Reynolds says, also doesn’t hurt.
“From a campus standpoint, Rio’s small,” Reynolds said. “It’s just perfect for me. I feel that if I work hard enough, then hopefully, I can succeed.”
Working hard, however, has never been an issue for Reynolds — which is why Collins believes in the qualities that the trusty hand has to offer.
“Kendal can play multiple positions and he can guard multiple positions,” Collins said. “He’s probably a small forward (at the college level), but he’s so versatile that he can fit in any system. I believe that he has the potential to have a really good career at Rio Grande.”
For now, however, Reynolds is soaking it all in.
And why not? The senior’s just earned an opportunity that doesn’t come along every day.
“It’s great to have my family and friends here with me today,” Reynolds said. “It’s certainly something special. I’m happy that I got to sign and that my family and friends got to come and experience what they helped me obtain.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7
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