NORTHWOOD, Ohio — We have had some really talented girls basketball players over the years in Northwest Ohio. Natasha Howard is playing in the WNBA. Zia Cooke was the starting point guard for the best team in college basketball this season. But maybe the next name on that list is playing at the end of a gravel driveway at her house in Northwood.
Meet Kendall Braden. She’s still just in 8th grade, but she’s got the attention of every high school coach in our area and plenty of college coaches across the country already. All of that attention would be overwhelming for most at her age, but Kendall is just different.
“The pressure has always been there since I was young,” said Braden. “I just kept on working, no matter what, and I just grew in to it. I’m just around tough people and it’s always been like that. It can make you or break you. I’ve decided that I want it to make me.”
Melvin Thomas is Braden’s trainer. He’s seen the top players come through this area, and he already sees the characteristics that can make her great.
“She’ll work hard, she’ll take it home, work again, send me extra videos when she gets home, asks if she’s doing it correct, and ask what she can do more,” said Thomas. “She’s just a girl who’s always ready to learn and get to the next level, so that’s the first thing I recognized about her.”
Braden has worked out with some of the best to come through Toledo. She’s surrounded herself with really good players and they’ve all helped take her game to a different level. That includes Zia Cooke.
“She’s so humble, the most humble person I’ve ever met,” said Braden talking about Cooke. “She pushes you. She gets the best out of me. I’ve known her for a long time, since sixth grade I ran open gym with her, she was picking me for her team and that was special.”
We still don’t know exactly where Kendall Braden will be playing her high school basketball next season, but all eyes will certainly be on that decision, which should be coming up very soon. Reporting in Northwood, Jordan Strack, WTOL 11.