We profiled 2014 point guard Josh Perkins over the weekend from the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va. He was waiting for his first telephone conversation with John Calipari at that time, and as of Tuesday afternoon he was playing phone tag with the UK coach.
In that story, 24/7 Sports national recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer called Perkins the most creative passer he’s scouted in the past 10 years. And Perkins, who will be a senior at Huntington Prep next season, talked about the possibility of a UK offer.
The player’s father — Randy Perkins — has been in regular contact with UK over the past few weeks, including a 40-45 phone conversation with Calipari on Sunday. Perkins’ father spoke with the Herald-Leader on Tuesday about a wide range of topics related to his son’s recruitment.
Here are some of the highlights:
Randy Perkins, who is also Josh’s AAU coach with the Colorado Miners, said Calipari requested a schedule of their games for the rest of the summer. The UK coach has yet to see Perkins play in person and hasn’t officially made an offer yet.
“He was kind of going down that avenue,” Randy Perkins said. “He wants to see him with his own eyes, although he said he has enough information to make an offer. I didn’t push it. I was just kind of waiting to see what he said.”
More on the possibility of an offer sometime soon:
“I think it’s coming. I think it’s probably already there, but I haven’t even asked him. We talked about so many different things and I just enjoy the conversation. Me being a coach myself, I turn into a sponge and I try to get as much out of this as I can to better myself as a coach.”
Randy Perkins said Calipari spent a good deal of time Sunday addressing what he said were misconceptions of the UK basketball program as it relates to one-and-done players and academics. Perkins said he already shared Calipari’s point of view before their conversation.
“We talked about how there’s some stuff out there about the Kentucky program that’s not accurate,” Perkins said. “He spent a lot of time on academics, because he knows how important that is to me. He didn’t have to explain or justify anything to me, because I know what Kentucky is about. If a kid gets offered an option to go play ball (in the NBA) early, they’re going to do that. Then they’ll come back to get their degree.”
More from Perkins on those who talk down UK’s program:
“My son introduced me to a word called ‘haters.’ There’s just haters out there, and no matter what you do they’re going to find something negative to say about it. … Wherever there’s drama, that’s where people want to gravitate to. And half the time they don’t even know what they’re talking about.”
Perkins added that Calipari didn’t have to tell him about NBA players like Jodie Meeks and Anthony Davis who have come back in the summer to work on their degrees. “He didn’t have to say anything to me. I know. I follow it.”
Josh Perkins told reporters over the weekend that he plans to trim his list later this summer, and UK would most likely stay on the list even if Calipari hasn’t offered.
Randy Perkins explained why:
“Just because it’s Kentucky,” he said. “Every kid’s dream is to go to the NBA and you’re obviously looking at the schools that can get you there. And obviously Kentucky is known to get kids to the NBA. And that’s his dream. I tell all my kids, ‘Dream, and put an egg in it. But don’t put all your eggs in there.’ And Kentucky is the egg. You don’t want to burn your bridges. You don’t want to take Kentucky off your list.”
Perkins said that UCLA, Gonzaga and USC were the three schools coming after his son the hardest at the moment. All three have offered, and the family took an official visit to Gonzaga late last week.
Randy Perkins also discussed what Calipari likes about his son’s game:
“He talked about how the game is missing what everybody says Josh offers,” he said. “(The game) doesn’t have that true point guard who gives up himself to make everybody better. And he was excited about that.”
Perkins specifically mentioned the praise that UK commitment Karl Towns had for his son over the weekend, and Calipari said he’d heard similar things on the recruiting trail.
“He said the most intriguing thing about Josh is that he makes everybody better and everybody wants to play with him. That’s all he keeps hearing. … He just talked about the intelligence and the fact that everybody wants to play with him.”
Before deciding to attend Huntington Prep, Perkins almost joined fellow point guard and UK target Emmanuel Mudiay at Prime Prep in Texas.
Mudiay told reporters earlier this spring that he wouldn’t want to go to the same school as a player like Tyus Jones, because he wanted to be the primary point guard in college. Perkins has a style similar to Jones’, but he and Mudiay have played together in the past and are becoming fast friends.
Randy Perkins said he could envision his son and Mudiay teaming up.
“They’re just such a good match,” he said. “First off, they’re good friends. They’ve developed a really strong relationship over the past few months. In fact, they call each other to see what camps they’re going to and what they’re doing each weekend.”
“They just complement each other very well. Because Emmanuel Mudiay is definitely your combo guard. More on the scoring side. Not necessarily perimeter shooting, but the kid can really get buckets. And he loved playing with Josh because he had a chance to take some possessions off and not have to work every single possession.”
Perkins decided to leave his high school in Colorado for one season at Huntington Prep for a simple reason — he wants to get better. Randy Perkins said his son has to play all five positions at his current high school. Now, he’ll get to concentrate on growing as a point guard with other great players around him.
“What’s interesting about this whole move is this was all driven by Josh,” Randy Perkins said. “All I did was gather the information and make sure it was the right institution, the right fit. He had already made his mind up that he wanted to go the prep school route simply because … he gets a chance to focus on the one position that he plays, and that’s point guard. Here in Colorado, he plays the one, the two, the three, the four, the five. He takes bad shots, but it’s the best shot for that team to win. Which is not a good shot for him at the next level. So he’ll get a chance to play with kids who get a chance to play their position. And playing in all of these camps with all of these elite kids — kids that are ranked in front of him — all that did was solidify and affirm that he’s making the right decision.”
Perkins said his son has tried to compete against the best players in the country whenever he’s had a chance over the past few months. He said Josh pays attention to the recruiting rankings and was driven by the idea that many didn’t consider him an elite point guard.
“Josh will get on that computer and he writes down all the names of all the kids that everybody is saying is better than him, all the point guards,” he said. “And he’ll watch the videos. And he says, ‘Dad, I can get him. I’m better than him. I can make a team better than he does.’ That’s what drives him.”
Randy Perkins has been most impressed by Josh’s desire to compete against the best, and his ability to create structured play in what are usually unstructured atmospheres, like the many camps he’s participated in this spring and summer.
“I’m proud that (he’s) able to go out there with these kids who are ranked in front of (him),” he said. “These kids who are superstars, some are considered one-and-done. And you’re able to go out there and create some offense, some system, some relationship. And get those kids to buy into it. You talk about a testament to leadership skills — this kid is special. And I’m not saying that because he’s mine. I’m in awe sometimes when I watch him play. I was at the Pangos camp and watching Stanley Johnson and those guys walking up and saying, ‘Hey Josh, let’s get together this summer.’ That’s special stuff.”
Two of the most important factors in Perkins’ college decision will be the school’s academic environment and the coach’s style of play.
Randy Perkins said he already knew about UK’s program for former players to complete their degree, and he seemed impressed with Calipari’s coaching style.
“Academics is so important,” he said. “That’s why I have him in the school he attends and that’s why Huntington Prep was selected, because of their academics. That’s not to say that I expect a 17-year-old to know what he wants to do with the rest of his life. But I do want an institution to have a sound reputation for providing their athletes to be successful where academics is concerned.
“And then you talk about the game itself, and it’s real important stuff. Obviously, style of play is important. You know, coaches can’t change who they are. There’s enough history out there to know what coaches do. You don’t have to guess with that. And style of play is probably the most important piece, because I’ve seen so many athletes fall in love with an institution and a coach and then it doesn’t fit their style. And it turns out to be one of the most unpleasant experiences.”
If the Cats want Perkins, they might want to come through with an offer sooner rather than later. His father said Josh’s current plan is to make a college decision before the start of his senior season.
“He wants to get it done (in the fall),” he said. “He wants to focus on (Huntington Prep) and he’s super excited about it. He wants to get the decision made so he can just focus on playing. And focus on whoever he’s going to play for next year.”