Sitting inside the Beeghly Center’s media lounge prior to Monday’s matchup between Cleveland State University and Youngstown State University, Tim Doyle posed a question to a local media member.
Doyle, calling the game for ESPN3, asked: “So, does this Perry kid have a shot at The League?”
‘The League’ referred to the NBA and ‘this Perry kid’ referred to Penguins do-it-all senior guard Kendrick Perry. It was a fair question, considering Doyle – like everyone else outside of northeast Ohio – hasn’t seen much of Perry.
40 basketball minutes and a 67-66 YSU win later, Doyle had coined KP a new nickname, ‘The Emperor.’ Safe to say, he answered his own question with a resounding ‘YES.’
“If you haven’t seen Kendrick Perry of Youngstown State play. All I have to say is Woah!” Doyle tweeted mid-game.
So what earned him the nickname?
Probably Perry’s prolific offensive performance of 31 points on 10 of 15 shooting, including 19 in the first half, YSU’s final 12 and the game-winning and-one layup.
Even more, he showed he could score in a variety of ways: at the rim, with the left and the right hand, from mid-range, with a floater, fading away, leaning in, from 3-point range — he even completed a rare four-point play.
“I knew he can score at any moment — shoot it or drive it,” said CSU’s Sebastian Douglas, a bench-regular that started the second half just to try to slow down Perry. “We didn’t play team defense at the end on him and he got loose. He’s a good player.”
Actually, Vikings head coach Gary Waters called Perry a great player, adding he’s “the best” in the Horizon League. Waters even went so far as to call Perry a “Norris Cole kind of caliber” in reference to the former dynamic CSU point guard that now plays a vital role for the Miami Heat.
These comments are coming from a guy that was reluctant to give anyone or anything in red and white on Monday an ounce of credit. So Waters is a believer of the Florida-native’s NBA prospects too.
And if you think people are jumping the gun after one extraordinary performance — Perry even unleashed the Superman celebration just moments after the game — it wasn’t much greater than he’s performed all year.
In 19 games he’s averaging 21.6 points and shooting 52 percent. He’s scored 30-plus points five times. And dating back to last season, he’s scored in double figures in the past 25 contests.
Plus, with his quickness and freaky athleticism, Perry’s defense isn’t too shabby either. In fact, he delivered the final stop of the CSU game – another reason he called it his greatest YSU performance to date.
“I think it was one of his better clutch games,” Penguins coach Jerry Slocum said. “As good as he was at the offensive end, he was just as special defensively.”
So take notice of Perry’s dynamic talent. Recognize the ability of the soon-to-be second-ever Penguin to play in the NBA (Leo Mogus was the first and only in 1946). And embrace him like he is his new moniker.
“Hahaha and apparently I have a nickname now,” Perry tweeted after Monday’s game. “Heck I’ll embrace it!!#TheEmperor”