Finding motivation to get better on and off the court is rather easy for rising senior point guard Darius Perry.
The Class of 2017 Marietta Wheeler (Ga.) product wasn’t afraid to share the fact that his father, Eric Perry always dreamed of what he himself is set to accomplish. Eric Perry has coached Darius and a crew of highly talented players for the Adidas Game Elite camp in Georgia for 16U over the past few years.
Perry has a true connection with his father saying that whenever he sees the look into his father’s eyes, it makes him happy to be on the court.
“He always wanted to do everything I’ve done,” Darius Perry said. “When he was little, he always dreamed of all this happening to him but because of the way things were when he was younger he didn’t get to experience that. He’s way more confident in my basketball game than I am. If you put anyone on the floor he says I’ll beat them anytime. Just knowing how he grew up and his passion for the game motivates me to do better.”
Over the past two seasons, Perry and his high school squad, the Wheeler Wildcats have been very successful. In 2014, the team capture its fifth state title under longtime head coach Doug Lipscomb with Cal freshman standout Jaylen Brown leading the way alongside a then sophomore in Perry. That same year, the Wildcats upset Montverde to win the City of Palms Classic title down in Ft. Myers, Fla. against an Eagles team that featured LSU freshman stud and 2016 NBA consensus No. 1 selection Ben Simmons.
Wheeler returned to the City of Palms once again this season with a team that featured two senior transfers in Georgia Tech commit Romello White and North Florida commit Al Wajid-Aminu, two guys he said he thoroughly enjoyed playing with and watching improve. Although, the Wildcats lost in the fifth-place quarterfinal to a very deep Montverde team, Perry says the tournament served him and his group well.
“It was a good tournament as usual. It’s always good to play against that level of competition. I think it was a good experience for my teammates, especially the ones that haven’t been there before.
Stats from City of Palms (3 games): 17.3 PPG, 6 RPG, 43% from the field, 81% from the FT line.
Perry and the Wildcats finished the season 22-6, but fell in the first round of the Georgia state playoffs to Loganville Grayson 59-58. It marked Wheeler’s first in-state loss since the 2014 Championship game against Tift County. The Wildcats are a top program from Georgia who participate in various tournaments around the country every year. They faced Montverde twice a season ago.
Stats for the season (28 games): 15.0 PPG, 4.3 APG, 4.0 RPG, 3.0 SPG
Perry has a solid amount of offers already out after a strong sophomore season and yet another nice year as the backcourt leader for Wheeler in 2015. Iowa State, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Minnesota, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, Alabama, Kansas State, Winthrop and Xavier have all offered Perry a scholarship.
Ranked as a four-star recruit by ESPN, he says he has taken just two visits which include Alabama, who offered him and Vanderbilt who didn’t. Perry also attended a tournament Virginia Tech played in. He says he plans to make more visits this summer.
He stays in touch with his former teammate and soon to be NBA player Jaylen Brown often. He says he talked with him a couple weeks ago and Brown asked him about his offers and future plans.
“He had a really big influence on me. He talks a lot about the game on and off the court. He doesn’t stick to just basketball. Off the court he taught me how to be a better person. JB is a really good person and it was great to get to play with him. He taught me a lot. He wanted the best for every single one of us.”
At 6’2″, 170 lbs, Perry may look too skinny at first glance, but he can certainly be a load on both ends of the floor. He’s a confident shooter, who likes to attack the rim often.
His father says Perry plays a lot like Indiana Pacers guard Monte Ellis, but Darius says he models his game after Russell Westbrook and appreciates one of the all-time greats in soon-to-be retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
“I like his [Westbrook’s] tenacity and his passion for the game. Everything he does is with aggression. He’s a crazy man out there and I like it. A lot of players don’t do what Russell Westbrook does. Also, Kobe with his killer instinct and knowledge of the game.”
Perry says ever since a camp after ninth grade that he has gained the confidence in himself to be a great player. He says he averaged 25-30 points in the five-game camp and felt as if he could make every shot and now plays with a different mentality because of it.
As a point guard, Perry is a rare talent. He can pass with the best of them and he can knock down shots when he needs to especially from his favorite spot, the mid-range. But he says getting his teammates involved first and foremost is his number one priority.
“I feel like I can get my shot off whenever I want. I don’t think I need to come out of the gate and score 30 points at the half. I like to find my teammates in the right spots and get them going first. As soon as they get going, I usually jump in with them and that usually turns into a game.”
Even though Romello White served as the leader down low at the center spot and Al-Wajid Aminu filled a big role next to him, Perry felt that he was the leader for Wheeler last season as a junior. He says he believes that the first round playoff exit last month will make for a better season in 2016.
“We are going to be more focused. We are going to have more serious practices. I don’t think it’s going to be just me. I think it’s going to be the whole the team with that mentality. When I come in and they see how I am, I think it’s going to rub off on the rest of them.”
Perry sounds like a seasoned leader right there and that bodes well for his chances at the next level and Wheeler’s chances to make a deep postseason run this upcoming season. He says it’s an honor to be under head coach Doug Lipscomb’s wing, calling him a great guy who will do anything for you.
In terms of improving his game for his senior season and beyond, Perry has a couple things on his mind right now.
No. 1: “I want to make my knowledge of the game better.”
No. 2: “I want to work on creating more space a lot of the shots I shoot are in someone’s face or close to the rim.”
No. 3: “I need to learn how to distribute the ball. I’m a good passer, but I’m not a good passer in certain situations. For example on the fast break, I need to make a quicker decision and especially when getting close to halfcourt.”
Perry is an honest kid who says he doesn’t fold under the lights. Accruing so much experience over the past two seasons playing around impressive talent and under a fantastic coach, Perry has learned a ton. He’s only going to get better as the main guy in his final prep season at Wheeler. Let’s see what he can do.
Notes: I’ll keep you posted regarding his latest offers and his top targets as his senior year approaches or as news comes in from him.
If you haven’t read his teammate Al-Wajid Aminu’s 1-on-1 interview from January right here on Prep Sports Scouting, well I suggest you do right now.
Jake Perper is the founder of Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
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