Nearly a year has passed since UTSA coach Steve Henson had a chance meeting with a student after one of the Roadrunners’ home basketball games.
As it turned out, this particular student towered over most fans in the Convocation Center that night.
He was 6-feet-8, and he also carried 220 pounds on a chiseled frame.
Henson didn’t know all the details, but Kendell Ramlal was looking for a chance to play.
“What’s your story?” the coach asked.
Ramlal spelled it out. He once played for Episcopal High School in the Houston area. He played three years at Texas State.
And now he was just a student at UTSA, working out and playing 5-on-5 in the rec center, looking for another opportunity.
Not too many days went by before Ramlal’s phone buzzed.
“They texted me,” Ramlal said. “They said ‘We need you.’ I said, ‘Ok, I’ll be there.’ It was that simple.”
A year later, Henson is most happy to have made Ramlal’s acquaintance.
The fifth-year senior is starting to take on a significant role for the Roadrunners, who play on the road tonight at Tulsa.
In the past two games, Ramlal has come off the UTSA bench, gradually seeing more and more court time as his confidence grows.
Henson played him 17 minutes in a 72-58 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi last Friday.
He responded with a career-high 11 points, four rebounds and three blocks.
“We knew he could help us defensively,” Henson said. “But he’s making the right plays. Big blocks. He rebounds. Guards his own guy.
“He’s just a different level athlete. We don’t have anyone else who can rebound above the rim. It was very exciting to see him do that for us.”
Henson said he is surprised with Ramlal’s emergence.
“Honestly, yes,” the coach said. “He surprises me that he’s doing it while the lights are on. He had some days where he did that in practice. He did it in June.
“Just didn’t know as we got closer to the games, (if) he was going to do it when the pressure was on.
“And he is. He’s stepping up big time. Again, he just didn’t play that much at Texas State. You wonder, why is it going to be different now? But he’s been fantastic.”
After punishing Texas A&M-Corpus Christi with his hustle and all-around play, Ramlal smiled and admitted that it feels great to contribute..
He said he sees himself as UTSA’s “energy guy,” hitting the floor to boost the team when it needs a push.
“Definitely,” he said. “I’m the energy guy. I’m a fifth-year senior, so I bring a lot of leadership. I’m honestly the biggest, strongest guy out here, so I try to show the guys – lead by example – how to be the bigger and tougher guy.
“I was able to do it tonight, so I feel great about that.”