Keith Rendleman

Like loyalty? Wilmington’s Rendleman has loads

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The college hoops offseason can be a little depressing sometimes. We’ve had our fair share this year, with coaches being fired, allegations of player mistreatment, and loads of transfers. Kids will leave school due to lack of playing time, disagreements with coaches, and who knows what else.

So I would be remiss in my role as college basketball’s Polly Sunshine (see Joe Harms) if I didn’t direct you to Brian Mull’s piece about UNC-Wilmington forward Keith Rendleman. Rendleman is set to play out his senior season as a Seahawk this year, despite the fact that just about every break that could go against him, has.

For starters, the CAA is slowly disintegrating, with three schools leaving the league. Strike two comes in the guise of APR sanctions, which will disqualify UNCW from the postseason. The third blow? Three of Rendleman’s compadres have bolted school already, leaving him in a pretty lonely position. What’s more, the Seahawks didn’t really win that much before all of that happened.

Rendleman was a first-team all-CAA selection last season in spite of all that. He could have written his ticket to just about any other school in the nation with his combination of size, skill and maturity. But he didn’t. Mull spoke with the senior-to-be, and learned what made him stay put.

“I just made this my home. I love all the fans here, everyone treats me well,” he said. “The coaching staff, they look out for me just as much as anybody. They care about me. Also, my teammates, I have a great relationship with them, this coming up team is closer than it’s ever been in any of the years I’ve been here.

“I felt like I have a pretty good thing going here, rather than going somewhere else, and having to get treated differently.”

In addition, Rendleman pointed out that he likes and trusts his head coach, Buzz Peterson. Imagine that. Peterson pretty much expected Rendleman to leave, or at least redshirt this season. But when his star player came back, Peterson made the stakes clear.

After practice one day late last season, Peterson pointed to the three retired uniforms near the rafters of the southeast corner of Trask Coliseum. He asked the other Seahawks if they felt Rendleman’s uniform belonged there. They said yes.

Keith Rendleman could go down in UNCW history as one of the best, if not THE best player in school history. He will most definitely be remembered as a player who loved his coach, his team and his school, and stayed true to them all.