Boys Basketball: Deerfield picks Dan McKendrick to coach varsity team

Story Image Deerfield basketball coach J. J. Pearl (center) watches Tony Shapiro (left) and Andy Levitz during a basketball camp at the school. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Story Image

Updated: June 7, 2012 9:13PM

Dan McKendrick believes he’s ready.

The 31-year-old is expected to be named new varsity boys basketball coach at Deerfield High School.

McKendrick, who has been the Warriors’ sophomore coach for four seasons, has been in the program for nine years. He also has been a varsity assistant and freshman assistant.

“I feel just blessed to get to this opportunity,” said McKendrick, a math teacher at the school. “I’ve been in the Deerfield community for nine years. And I’ve tried to learn as much as I can. I think I can do this job and do it well.”

McKendrick has basketball in his blood. A 6-foot-3 shooting guard, he played three varsity seasons for Willowbrook High School. He then played collegiately at Trinity International University in Deerfield.

“Basketball is a passion with me,” McKendrick said. “Coaching is an addictive thing. Everything about it is a blast.”

He definitely will be familiar with the roster.

“There’s a lot of talent here,” said McKendrick. “There’s an opportunity for a lot of success.”

The Warriors are expected to return five varsity-tested players next winter: juniors Alexander Glantz and Tony Shapiro along with sophomores Michael Alfieri, Eric Porter and Andrew Ferdman.

“Glantz and Shapiro will bring a lot of leadership. They have the wisdom of being in the high school program for three years,” said McKendrick. “Glantz is a slasher on offense and a very good on-the-ball defender. Shapiro can really shoot it, and he’s a strong kid who can finish underneath.”

Alfieri will return as the Deerfield big man. He averaged 8.3 points and was second on the team in rebounds (133). Porter ended up scoring 7.1 points per game. Ferdman was a nice player off the bench.

“All of those guys made big contributions last year,” said McKendrick.

The coach also is very high on freshman guard Sam Kuznetsky, who played at the sophomore level last winter. The sophomores, who played without Alfieri, Porter and Ferdman, finished 12-12. The freshman team went 19-5.

McKendrick will take over for J.J. Pearl, who coached the varsity squad last winter on an interim basis for Bret Just.

“J.J. did a lot of selfless things for the program,” praised McKendrick.

Pearl had hoped to get the job on a permanent basis, when Just — now a sports agent — decided not to return.

“I have no comment on the (hiring) situation,” said Pearl, a teacher at Thomas Middle School in Arlington Heights. “It was a great three-year experience (he was varsity assistant for Just for two seasons). I built some great relationships. I learned a lot. The administration was great. The parents and players were great. And I can’t thank Bret Just enough. I have a lot of positive memories. It was truly a positive experience for me.”

Pearl already has found a landing place. He will be a varsity assistant for Vince Doran — a new hire — at York High School in Elmhurst.

The Deerfield job has been a hot topic this spring. Some big names have been thrown around.

Kendrick’s hiring should become official on Monday when the school board meets.

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