When Josh Perkins announced his intention to leave Regis High School in Denver, Colorado and head off the Huntington Prep in West Virginia, everyone knew sacrifices would be made. For the first three years of his high school career, Josh was among the top 2 or 3 players in the state of Colorado. He burst on the scene at a young age and quickly gathered offers from elite programs nationwide. The move to basketball power Huntington Prep was an attempt to challenge himself against the best as he had already reached his peak in the state of Colorado.
This fact is none more evident that Josh's recent activity in New York. If he had stayed at Regis, his high school career would have ended around St. Patrick's Day but, instead, at Huntington Prep his team was selected to partake in the Dick's National High School Tournament in New York. This eight-team tournament gathered the most elite in the country in a who's who event of high school basketball. Today, Huntington Prep's tournament came to a close as they fell 56-51 to Montverde Academy in Florida. It wasn't a heartbreaking loss as Montverde is near-unanimously thought of as the top team in the nation.
For Perkins in particular, this tournament was exactly the reason why he went to Huntington Prep. While he averaged astronomical stats in Denver, he settled into the role as primary distribution for Huntington. He had a typical point guard stat line all year - scoring nearly 10 points per game while dishing out 4-5 assists and grabbing 4-5 boards. I was able to catch mostly all of both of his games in New York and could immediately notice some positive strides in his game from when I last saw him in AAU competition in Denver.
For starters, let's recap what we already knew about Perkins. First and foremost, he's an elite level passer which will make him a day one contributor for Mark Few. Against La Lumiere, Perkins flashed this incredibly ability. He was just 2-6 from the floor but dished out 6 assists and grabbed 5 boards. Did I mention that he showed some flash?
I've raved about Perkins' passing ability over and over again so I don't think anyone really needs to hear me drone on about it again but, in a tweet, he is my favorite moment from watching Perkins live in person. From April of 2013:
Josh Perkins honestly passes too well for his teammates. Just threw a no look that hit his teammate in the side of the head.— Slipper Still Fits (@slipperstillfit) April 27, 2013
The most obvious difference in Perkins in a years time is his physical size. Josh was a pretty slight guard while at Regis but I'm guessing he has added 15-20lbs since joining up with Huntington Prep. He's much more physical and can withstand contact much better than he did at Regis. While he may eventually shed some of that weight when he hits campus in Spokane, it was much needed for the competition he was going against this past year.
While Perkins will be an immediate impact player, there are still several opportunities for him as a player. In my estimation, the main two areas are general quickness and getting his outside jumper more consistent. Perkins has the tendency to struggle when squaring off against smaller and quicker guards. At Gonzaga, he will be called on to beat his man off the dribble which is something he hasn't been able to do routinely at Huntington. Like I said before, this was a big reason why he went to Huntington as he just wasn't challenge in this regard at Regis. Similarly, his outside jumper could use some refining. He has a very quick shooting motion which yielded all kinds of results in New York. If he is going to capitalize on his outstanding passing ability at the next level, he will need to keep his man honest and the only way that can happen is if he can really start hitting from outside with regularity.
Expectations are very high for Perkins and, more generally, Gonzaga basketball in 2014. When you think about the returning talent and combine them with the new crop of talent, it is hard not to let your imagination run wild. I continue to think that Perkins can have a Matt Bouldin type impact as a freshman. He can immediately enter a game and spark the offense with his passing ability. The X-factor will be the jump shot as that is something Matt was able to hit right away. The beauty of this whole situation is that Perkins will be able to learn from Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell who are pretty darn good shooters in their own right.
Should be a whole lot of fun.