NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Kendall Lewis isn’t looking at the standings to determine if it’s a successful season at Illinois State.

He’s looking at his teammates.

“We have competitive practices, everybody is connected as one,” Lewis said. “It’s the main thing coach talks about – the connectedness of the team.”

Lewis is the heart and soul of the Redbirds. He played in every game last season and is hoping to do the same this season.

He’s a player who can stuff stat sheets with points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. Lewis is one of just three players in the country this season to have a season stat line of at least 26 steals, 22 assists, 16 blocked shots and 180 points.

But, perhaps most importantly, he’s one of the players that decided to stay in Normal after ISU made a coaching change which led to a turn-over of the roster.

“It’s being willing to accept change,” said Lewis. “Building trust in coach, him being able to trust us, we’re building trust in each other.”

Lewis looks at his Redbird team and sees a lot of faces who weren’t on the team last year when he was one of the new faces as a transfer from Appalachian State.

“It’s a strange situation. We know we’re all in it together.” the senior from Snellville, Georgia. “Anybody can be a leader in this situation. Of course, I’m going to try and step up and lead as much as I can.”

The Redbirds (7-10, 2-4) got their first road win of the Missouri Valley season on Saturday with a 69-61 win at Evansville.

Lewis says he was sold on new first-year coach Ryan Pedon shortly after he met him. And he says Pedon is keeping things positive as the Redbirds navigate through a tough Valley schedule. 

“Coach Pedon’s energy is contagious. Since he came here, he’s been on a train and we’re going,” said Lewis. “We can stay with him or fall behind. None of us wants to fall behind.”