UIW’s Jerred Kite battles his way back into the Southland picture

Despite being a San Antonio native, it was a long, challenging road that took redshirt junior Jerred Kite to the campus of nearby Incarnate Word and back onto the basketball court.

The 6-11 Kite started his college career at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, a Southland Conference rival of the Cardinals.

“When I originally went to A&M-Corpus I was redshirted. I had injury problems in the past with a stress fracture in my lower back and I ended up getting another one when I was there,” said Kite. The injury was the recurrence of one endured as a junior at the city’s Antonian College Prep. He overcame that to go on to earn all-state honors in his senior year.

By February 2013, his freshman year of college, Kite was sidelined from practicing but he finished up the school year and continued doing rehabilitation work in Corpus Christi. That summer he made the difficult decision to head back to San Antonio.

“I was out for February, March and April. They finally let me come back in May but it was still bothering me,” said Kite. “Since I had the problem before I thought, ‘I don’t think I can heal down here, doing all the treatment I’m doing,’ so I decided to move back to San Antonio to work with the doctor who helped me overcome it before.”

There was no quick fix to Kite’s back problems, and he worked as hard away from the court as he ever had on it to return to full health. “The way I healed it was to wear a brace for three months that I had to sleep in. Basically I had to wear it for 23 hours a day. That one hour was when I got to take it off for a shower,” said Kite. He also did rehabilitative work three times a week for roughly a month and a half after returning to San Antonio.

In the fall of 2013 he was cleared to play. After taking classes at a local community college, he enrolled at UIW for the spring 2014 semester and later walked on to the Cardinals’ basketball team.

“I was good to go. I slowly started working out and didn’t have any pain and that’s when I decided I was going to give it a try again,” said Kite.

After sitting out a year for his transfer, he appeared in 21 games for UIW last season when he became available for play after the fall semester. The computer information systems major was working as hard in the classroom, where he garnered a spot on the Southland’s Commissioner’s Honor Roll.

This season he was joined on the Cardinals’ roster by his younger brother Jorden, a freshman shooting guard. The older Kite has seen limited action, but he understands his role in the UIW lineup.

“We have a smaller team and we have all our shooters and scorers. I can score trash buckets, but my main role is to be a spark off the bench. I go in there and rebound, rebound, rebound and block some shots when I can. For our defense it helps knowing they have a 6-11 rim protector behind them,” he said.

Offensively the Cardinals run the floor and UIW will need to rebound this year from losing Denzel Livingston to graduation. Livingston averaged 21.5 points per game in 2014-2015 and pulled down 172 rebounds to go along with a team-leading 74 steals and 38 blocks. They’ve added transfer Derail Green from Wichita State, a 6-7 forward who will help bolster the Cardinals’ front court.

“We’ve got some talented freshmen and transfers who came in,” said Kite. “Once we get back to full game shape and we get acclimated with each other on the floor, I think we’ll be a force.”

After three games they are 2-1 with wins over Texas Lutheran and Schreiner — both at home — and a road loss to nationally-ranked Purdue. The Cardinals travel to Oklahoma on Tuesday to face the Sooners and start their Southland schedule on Jan. 2 at home against Sam Houston State.

As the season progresses, Kite hopes to expand his playing time and role with the Cardinals. His return to the court is a considerable achievement that bolsters his confidence and puts UIW’s opponents in relative perspective.

“Knowing that I was able to get through the injury is very motivating,” said Kite, “and I’m ready for the next challenge that’s in front of me.”

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