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Farewell to Josh Perkins, the most underappreciated player in GU history

Sometimes, you don’t realize you miss something so much until it is gone.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-West Regional Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Perkins was the face of the Gonzaga Bulldogs for almost all five years he was here, sometimes deservedly, sometimes because this fanbase just needed a lightning rod for blame.

Future fans will look at Perkins from the view of the record books, noting he holds the record for career assists at GU (709), the single-season assists record (231), and the most NCAA Tournament games played as a Zag (16).

The current crop of fans will either look at Perkins through two different lenses: a talented, albeit frustrating, point guard; or someone who was never good enough. Obviously, there is a middle ground in there, but the point stands: Josh Perkins was as polarizing as a player who ever came through Gonzaga.

And it wasn’t because he was some sort of Marshall Henderson-like jerk. Perkins was the ultimate professional. It didn’t matter if it was coming off the highest win or the most crushing of losses, Perkins was always there in front of the cameras, always saying the right thing, always representing this program to its fullest.

His play on the court was polarizing. People will say he was a turnover machine, despite the fact he was just at 2.0 per game for his career average. There is no denying that some of those turnovers came at inopportune times, but for most, it was all the ammunition needed to completely counter all of the good Perkins did: the floor marshaling, the deadly three point shooting, the defense at the point. On top of owning multiple records, Perkins has the fifth-most threes in school history and the second-most steals.

But his haircuts! It showed that he was more about himself than the team. Someone, many people, actually typed that comment out — on these boards! Whatever those people could use to desperately hang to why they did not like Perkins, they most certainly did.

Which is a true shame, honestly, because Perkins was a key member of four of the past five years. He has enjoyed more success than most Gonzaga players, tasting the national championship, two Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight appearance.

His time at Gonzaga was never easy. He started out his collegiate career by suffering a terrible injury at the hands of a clumsy basketball play by Kenny Gaines. He made mistakes, on and off the court, as everyone his age is apt to do. No one can deny that each and every time, Perkins showcased his age, his wisdom, and leadership, and owned up, each and every single time, like a kid wise beyond his years. After the loss to Texas Tech, Perkins opened himself up for the world to see—and that is exactly what you want to expect from your senior leader.

This is what will be missing from the squad next season. Perkins roller coaster ride culminated with him perfectly leading the top offense in the nation, and it, unfortunately, fell shorter than all of us hoped. Next season, Perkins and Crandall will graduate. Zach Norvell Jr. might leave early for the NBA Draft. The Zags have an uber-talented class coming in, but the backcourt will be young and unproven.

Perkins’ legacy all comes down to how you want to remember it. If you want to view the negative, go right ahead, that is your fair prerogative. Me, personally, I plan on remembering the smile, the emotions on and off the court, the beautiful court vision, the ever evolving hair style, and the unequivocal success he enjoyed in a Zag uniform.

Perkins’ success wasn’t accidental. Matt Santagelo’s assists records stood the test of time since 2000. Despite a flurry of stellar point guards such as Jeremy Pargo and Kevin Pango through the years, Perkins is the one who broke the record. He should be remembered as one of the best true point guards this school has seen. He earned it.