It isn't too often that you get the chance to watch an incoming recruit on TV, but thanks to ESPN taking an extra interest in some of these basketball producing high schools, we all got the chance to see Josh Perkins in action.
Work with me here, I haven't made too many animated GIFs before, and I'm working on how to best make them quality-wise and space wise. But I spent the night on a little bit ago watching Josh Perkins and trying to get some takeaways to present to everyone.
First off, Perkins looked awesome at times and got me really excited to have him join the backcourt of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell next year. Other times, Perkins tempered expectations and reminded me LeBron James isn't showing up at Gonzaga next year. Next year, Perkins will be a freshman and there will be times that he shows he is a freshman. He will also show flashes of the greatness to come, and it will be equally exciting.
The first thing we will take a look at is Perkins passing ability. Love or hate David Stockton, one of the more fun things to watch him do is thread a pass out of nowhere. Perkins looks to have that eye, staying one step ahead of defenses with laser-guided assists. Take a look at this nice pass on a fast break.
He hesitates just long enough to make it seem like he is going to try and find a hole to drive, and instead he just dishes to the open man. It is a pass pretty reminiscent of the kind Matt Bouldin made. It is the sort of pass that won't land you on the many highlight reels, but it is the sort of pass that makes Perkins a well-rounded point guard. In the game, the young guard often showed that he is a pass-first oriented point guard, and if he lasts four years at Gonzaga he will have a good chance to finish his career in the upper echelons of the record tomes.
Pass first point guards are great and everything, but to be the floor general you also need to be able to score. Perkins wasn't an offensive juggernaut in the game, but he showcased plenty of skills in his ability to drive to the hoop. In this first example, Perkins makes a quick turn around the defender and drives to the basket with contact on his mind. He was rewarded for his efforts on the trip.
He also showed the ability to score in different fashions. In this second example, Perkins hesitated enough on a fast break to find his opening and make it to the basket. The key focus here was that as Perkins brought the ball up the court. He saw the opening and knew he was going to the hoop the whole time. This is as strong of a take as you will see in high school, and although he didn't get the bucket, he got the foul.
In this next example, Perkins made a little bit out of nothing. Here is an athletic take to the hoop -- perhaps too athletic as nothing came out of it. I'm trying to focus on the positives here, so what we saw was the beginnings of some nice ball handling. Obviously, not nice enough since he threw the ball into the stands on the drive, but it was an aggressive take when there weren't many options available.
Finally, in the spirit of the Gonzaga guards, Perkins needs to be able to hit the three. He proved in the game he can hit the three in transition much like Pangos is able to now. At the end of the first half, Perkins pulled up on a dime and drained the three.
That was the athleticism of Perkins. That was the stuff to get excited about. Perkins still made plenty of errors, enough to remind me to temper expectations when he comes in. On that three up above, Huntington Prep had the lead and possession of the ball going into the half. The play that should've happened there was Perkins holding the ball for ten more seconds and take the last shot of the half. Granted, he made the three so it is one of those moot points, but the takeaway was that Arsenal Technical drove the length of the floor and scored the final basket of the half.
Perkins drives also often felt a bit forced, but to be fair, because of the flow of the game most of Huntington Prep's offense felt a bit forced. At one point, Perkins had the ball in his hands, dribbled between his legs a few times and pulled up to take a contested three. The shot didn't go in, and it was in the middle of a 16-1 run by Arsenal Tech. Rather than sit down and get the offense going, or driving to find a good shot, Perkins took the poor one.
This is all nitpicking really. These kids are really kids. The leading scorer in the game wasn't old enough to drive, and for many of them it is probably their first or one of the few times they've played in front of a national audience on ESPN. Dreams do come true in that way and players on both sides were sometimes trying a bit too hard to carry their team.
The final result was a pretty decent showing for Perkins. On the season he is now averaging 9.1 points, 5.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 steals a game. Overall he displayed enough flashes to have me drooling over him in a Gonzaga uniform as a sophomore. He has the potential to go down as one of the all-time great guards, and it looks like the real question will be just how long he stays at Gonzaga.