Next Cats: Point guard Josh Perkins hopes to blossom in UK's backyard

broberts@herald-leader.comJune 14, 2013 

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The debate over the country's best point guard in the class of 2014 has been engaging, but limited in its options.

Those who follow basketball recruiting have been stuck with two choices: Tyus Jones or Emmanuel Mudiay.

It might not be long before a third candidate emerges: Huntington (W.Va.) Prep's Josh Perkins.

The Colorado native has had a busy few weeks. He announced last month that he would play his senior season for the West Virginia powerhouse. Around that time, John Calipari called his father to let him know Kentucky was interested.

And, more recently, longtime recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer called Perkins one of the best passers he's scouted in the past 10 years.

Meyer, the national analyst for 24/7 Sports, didn't back off that statement Friday.

"As far as degree of difficulty and seeing the play before it happens, yeah, I would say he's the best I've seen," Meyer told the Herald-Leader. "Now, as far as the more realistic passes you've gotta make, there are some other guys who are right there with him. But his creativity, his vision — it's unparalleled from what I've scouted."

Meyer — a former college point guard himself — was not expecting to see the next five-star prospect when he sat down in the gym to see a game in which Perkins played.

"To be honest, I didn't know who he was before I started watching the game," he said. "I was sort of doing a blind scout. And I'm like, 'Who the hell is this guy making these crazy passes?' ... It kind of blew my mind."

Perkins' offer sheet has gone up along with his national ranking. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder has scholarship offers from UCLA, Southern Cal, Minnesota, Kansas, New Mexico, Gonzaga and, most recently, UConn.

He's also getting interest from Kentucky and Syracuse, though he doesn't have an offer from either school just yet.

Scout.com, 24/7 Sports and ESPN all rank Perkins as a five-star prospect.

As for Perkins' all-around game, Meyer said he's "not far off" Jones and Mudiay, who are considered two of the top three or four overall players in the class.

"I guess you could say I'm a pass-first point guard," Perkins said Friday at the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp. "I love getting my teammates involved. They make me look good. I put them in the best position for them to score."

He's the kind of point guard other talented players love to play alongside.

Jalen Lindsey, a highly touted forward from Tennessee, is also transferring to Huntington Prep for his senior season and has gotten to know Perkins and his game over the past few weeks.

"He's a great player," Lindsey said. "He's a guy who can read the court. He's got a high, high basketball IQ. I'm really, really excited about playing with him next year.

"I think that any guy would love to play with a point guard like that — a pass-first point guard who can score when he needs to."

Perkins will be right down the road if Calipari wants to come calling.

He plans to cut down his list of schools to something "more manageable" by the end of August, and Kentucky will probably stay in contention even if Calipari hasn't offered by then.

"Well, Kentucky's Kentucky," he said. "I have dreams of making it to the NBA, and that's what they do."

Perkins' father, who is also his AAU coach, has been handling the bulk of his recruitment. The point guard has yet to talk to Calipari, but he said the UK coach called for him this week while he was on an official visit to Gonzaga.

He thought it would be rude to take that call while visiting another school, and he traveled straight from that visit to the Top 100 Camp. But Perkins said he's looking forward to a chat with Calipari sometime soon.

"From what I've gathered, if you're not looking to go to the league in one or two years, then maybe Kentucky's not the place for you," he said. "The style of play fits (me) perfectly. And I have dreams of making it to the league early."

He's not afraid to fight for his spot, but Perkins doesn't want to be anyone's second choice.

Duke was on his list until a couple months ago. That recruitment ended abruptly.

"They told me earlier in the year that I was a backup to Tyus," Perkins said. "And I don't feel like I'm anybody's backup."

On possibly playing alongside Jones, Perkins was blunt: "I don't think that would work." Teaming up with Mudiay is a different story.

Perkins said he thought hard about playing alongside Mudiay at Prime Prep (Texas) next season before making the decision to move to Huntington. The two players talked it over and both thought it would be a good idea.

Mudiay, who already has a UK offer, has said in the past that he doesn't think he could team up with Jones because he doesn't want to be a combo guard in college.

But Perkins made it sound like a possibility. And Meyer brought up a couple of names from Calipari's recent past to prove that such a pairing might just work.

"Any player can play with any player, as long as they're willing to play with that player," Meyer said. "It's really more about the attitudes of the players and making sure you can match up and guard the other team.

"Those two would be great together. Eric Bledsoe and John Wall were great together."

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216. Twitter: @NextCats. Blog: ukrecruiting.bloginky.com.

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