Basketball skills draw Bethel staff to Gleason 3-sport standout Perry
Posted: Friday, May 24, 2013 12:00 pm
By RANDY CAVIN
Gleason basketball player Austin Perry has become a rarity.
The Gleason graduate has signed his letter of intent after being offered a scholarship to play at Bethel University.
Perry has become one of the rare few basketball players to sign to play college ball from the boys’ program. This occasion is so rare that his former coach can’t even remember when the last time a player from the boys’ team was offered a basketball scholarship.
“I moved here back in 1985 when I was in the third grade,” Jamie Roney said. “As far back as I can remember, and I do not want to say for sure that nobody has, but Austin is one of the few. He is in an elite group anyway because he was a three-sport all-district athlete.”
Roney started coaching Perry in youth league basketball before he became the Bulldogs head coach in 2011.
He recognized the potential Perry had at a young age and the talent he possessed. Roney was especially impressed with Perry’s work ethic and his drive to become a better basketball player.
“It did not take long to recognize that he was going to be an exceptional talent,” Perry’s former coach said. “Obviously, size had a lot to do with that. The thing that really stands out more than anything else is his work ethic. He spent time in the gym last summer when other people would have been in other places.”
Perry finished up his senior season with 12.3 points per game, 7.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.6 steals each contest. He also made 54 percent of his free throws last season. He had a season-best 22 points and 15 rebounds in a one-point loss to Clarksville on Jan. 11.
Bethel assistant coach Jonathan Stanley knows he is getting a player who will be working every day to improve his game, and he believes Perry will be able to help out the team coming off the bench as a long-range shooter as he develops while playing on the junior varsity team.
“I think he is someone who is very well-coached with tremendous character,” Stanley said. “He is someone who is going to work on his game daily. Maybe he will be one of our ‘zone busters’ coming in and knocking down a couple of shots.”
When Perry was on the court for Gleason, he attracted a lot of attention because he was the Bulldogs’ go-to-guy and was always hustling after the ball on both ends of the court. Stanley likes that about Perry because those kinds of players can be special for any team.
“Those hustle players can do wonders for a team,” Stanley said. “If you can have 12 guys like him, then that is great. But normally you only have two or three, so this is great to get him and a blessing.”
Perry made his decision to go for a basketball scholarship because he was garnering more attention in basketball than football or baseball. So, he decided to work even harder to get a basketball scholarship.
“I really was not getting looked at with the other two sports,” Perry said. “With basketball, I actually thought I would have a decent chance. You either have to be big for football or be able to hit the ball far for baseball.”
Perry admitted he was hoping to play for a bigger college, but Bethel came to him, and he his 100 percent committed to playing for the Wildcats even if a bigger school offered him a chance to transfer later on.
“I wanted to play at a bigger school, but that is what everybody wants when they start,” Perry said. “I am glad I did get looked at. I am going to stick with Bethel. I made a commitment to the team, so I am going to stay with it.”
Published in THe WCP 5.23.13