Crumpacker: A Healthy Udenyi Ready to Impact Waves
Fifth-year senior focused on a strong finish in Malibu
By John Crumpacker - #WCChoops Columnist
If nothing else, Amadi Udenyi deserves an award of some kind for persistence, for getting up each time something knocked him down, for continuing the fight when others might have said, “That’s enough.’’
Pepperdine’s fifth-year senior guard could write a treatise on injuries and how to come back from them.
After a stellar high school career at Bay Area powerhouse, De La Salle, Udenyi went to a prep school in Connecticut in 2012-13 but was injured much of the season. Nevertheless, Waves coach Marty Wilson saw enough in the 6-foot-1 backcourt player to offer him a scholarship.
As a freshman in 2013-14, he started 15 of the 21 games he played in but missed 10 others with a knee injury. Udenyi played in 22 games as a sophomore until a ruptured left Achilles tendon caused him to miss the final seven games of the season.
Lo and behold, Udenyi was healthy for his entire junior year in 2015-16 as he started all 32 games and averaged 4.9 points, 4.5 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game. That proved to be an aberration, however, because the young man from Oakland ruptured his right Achilles tendon six games into what would have been his senior season in 2016-17; the Waves were 4-1 when he went down with his second Achilles tear on Nov. 27, 2016; a matching pair of ruptured Achilles is something no athlete wants on his resume.
Udenyi applied for and received a medical redshirt year. He spent the rest of last season rehabbing the injury and preparing mentally for his fifth and final year in Malibu.
“The injury aspect wasn’t as bad because I had it before,’’ he said before the 2017-18 season started. “I got to sit back, watch a lot of film and learn. I actually think it was more of a learning experience. The rehab process was easier because I’ve been through it before.
“I go into everything with a positive attitude.’’
He’ll need to draw on that attitude once again. In Pepperdine’s opening game at Oklahoma State (a 78-47 loss), Udenyi banged his head at some point during the game and was later evaluated for a possible concussion.
Udenyi was held out of Pepperdine’s second game, against Division III Cal Lutheran (a 107-82 win for the Waves) and is questionable for Friday night’s home game against Northern Colorado. He is not expected to miss much time but cannot return until he passes concussion protocol.
Talking about a healthy Udenyi in the lineup, Wilson said, “He provides sanity for me because he runs the team. I know what we’re going to do. He brings back our identity, he and Kam (sophomore forward Kameron Edwards, who missed all of 2016-17 with a broken jaw). Once we realized both were going to be out for the season, things were going to change.’’
For the worse, as it turned out. Without Udenyi running things and Edwards providing a scoring punch, the Waves were reduced to a small tidal pool, finishing 9-22 overall and 5-13 in the WCC.
In a 1-1 start to the season, Pepperdine has demonstrated the kind of depth that could lead to a turnaround from a year ago. The leading scorers are Edwards and guard Trae Berhow at 12.0, with five other players between 8.0 and 9.5 points per game -- Colbey Ross,Darnell Dunn, Knox Hellums, Nolan Taylor and 6-9 Matthew Atewe.
“I think this may be one of our most talented teams since I’ve been here,’’ Udenyi said. “From a talent level, we’re up there with Stacy’s (Davis) teams. Everyone is jelling well. Chemistry is good.’’
Added Wilson, “I think we’re going to be better than most people think.’’
As a senior last season, Lamond Murry Jr., led the Waves, and the conference, in scoring at 21.4 per game, with a high of 41. Wilson does not have anyone like that on his current roster, but he does have a group of players who can put up decent numbers.
“Lamond Murry is gone,’’ assistant coach John Impleman said. “It’s going to be by committee. Kam needs to be one of our leading scorers. We don’t have anyone who’s going to lead the conference in scoring.’’
Udenyi has never been a big scorer in his time at Pepperdine but that’s not his role as point guard. When he returns to the lineup, he will provide the kind of stability that only a fifth-year senior can bring. As for his future once he receives his degree in advertising in the spring, Udenyi said, “I haven’t figured out what comes next.’’
He’s already figured out one big life lesson: When something knocks you down, get up and keep going … once the rehab process is complete, that is.
John Crumpacker spent more than three decades working at the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle. During his career he has covered the full gamut of sports from prep to professionals. Most recently, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for Cal through the end of the 2013-14 season. In addition to covering 10 Olympic Games, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for the San Francisco 49ers. He is a two-time winner of the Track & Field Writers of America annual writing award and has several APSE Top 10 writing awards.