Keith Rendleman made a name for himself in Lincoln County as a two-time Southern Piedmont Conference player of the year for the East Lincoln Mustangs, and collected the schoolâ€™s all-time scoring record while averaging 21.5 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game throughout his high school career.
Rendlemanâ€™s numbers havenâ€™t changed much since graduating high school in 2009, but the stage certainly has. Now in his junior year as a collegiate athlete, Rendleman is a proven leader for the University of North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks.
His point totals have gradually increased throughout the season, from five in the Seahawksâ€™ 71-62 season opener loss at Maryland, to 23 points against Drexel on Saturday.
â€œIt comes from hard work in the offseason, getting stronger and getting some more moves down to go to during the season,â€ he said.
â€œI just go into the season trying to do my best and be a leader, and do the things my team needs me to do. If that concerns me putting up points, then thatâ€™s what I do.â€
As a forward for the Seahawks, Rendleman is currently second in scoring with 16.1 points per game, barely behind freshman guard Adam Smithâ€™s 16.3 points per game to lead Wilmington. Rendleman leads the Seahawks in rebounding by far, with 166 rebounds this season, an average of 10.4 per game, 72 rebounds more than Cedrick Williamsâ€™ 94 boards. He also tops the Seahawk defense in steals per game.
During the 2011-2012 season, Rendleman scored a new career high in a game, with 29 points against Liberty in December. His previous record of 23 points in a game, set in January 2011 against Towson, has been met or surpassed in three of his last five games.
Rendleman said heâ€™s worked to keep the same outlook that he had in high school at the college level.
â€œI had more of a fun thing going on in high school, with the mentality that no one could stop me,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m gradually getting back that way, everyone has confidence in me, and Iâ€™m trying to get into that mindset. Iâ€™m not a loud, vocal leader, but Iâ€™m going to try to help everyone out and get us where we need to be.â€
The Seahawks are currently 7-9 overall, with a 3-3 Colonial Athletic Association conference record, to put Wilmington in seventh place in the division. With 12 games left in the regular season, Rendleman said there were several goals he hoped to meet.
â€œThe first goal is always to win a conference championship and we want to see team growth and come together more, and keep everyone on the same page,â€ he said. â€œPast that, weâ€™d like to get a Player of the Year award, that would be a good thing to bring to our school. With Adam (Smith) doing so well, heâ€™s also in the running for Rookie of the Year.â€
Rendleman said he still has many fond memories of his stellar years at East Lincoln.
â€œIt was so much fun,â€ he said.
â€œItâ€™s always fun playing with the people youâ€™ve grown up with, and winning20-plus games every season plus all of the rivalries and everything else just made it a lot of fun.â€