(photo courtesy of Rivals.com)
In Steve Lavin's great national search for talent, he and his staff have somehow come up with a 2010 player named Michael Perez that hardly anyone has heard of. Perez played in the shadow of the University of Arizona at Tuscon's Pueblo High School, making the all-state team for his level (4 out of 5 levels).
The 6'4 senior guard Perez garnered scholarship offers from junior colleges such as Central Arizona and had a chance to walk on at UTEP, along with interest from the University of San Francisco.
Steve Lavin offered Michael Perez two nights ago, and Mike Perez replied with a resounding yes; he wants to be a Johnnie, this fall... despite never visiting the school. Or the city of New York.
Suffice to say, this is a little out of the blue. And seemingly hasty.
Andy Morales of the Tuscon Citizen (who thinks St. John's is in Philadelphia):
One wonders if former Arizona assistant coach Mike Dunlap had a say in offering Perez a scholarship. Dunlap was part of the staff that took Arizona to the Sweet 16 in 2009 when Perez was a junior and is now an assistant coach at St. John’s. Maybe he picked up an afternoon newspaper that year?
To leap from a junior college offer to a Big East offer is par for the course for a player like Perez who can jump out of a building. The 6’3″ guard averaged 29 points last year and has won a couple of dunking contests along the way.
The guard averaged 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.0 steals. While impressive, one has to wonder what he can do on a higher level of competition. More on Michael Perez, who was playing with the Compton Magic AAU team with star point guard Jahii Carson:
"He never got that much exposure (in southern Arizona)," said Chad Groth, who runs AAU tournaments in the Valley and was approached by the St. John's coach about Perez. "He's a great athlete.
"You've got to be at the right place at the right time."
Some evaluations of Perez:
Hoops report - SWS Senior Showcase: Perez has the total package. Mike was a top 5 performer in this event. Mike shoots it very well mid or long range, handles the ball well, very athletic and has a very good mental game to go along with all of his physical attributes. Perez is definitely a mid major prospect possibly a high major prospect depending on the program.
Rivals - SWS Senior Showcase part I: solid shooting, ball handing and playing-making ability in the both games we witnessed. He reminds many of former Dobson High star Mickey McConnell. This was the first time many in Phoenix got a chance to see Perez play, and they were not disappointed.
Tuscon Citizen: The 6-3 Perez appears to be capable of playing either guard spot, but could wind up being a very nice scoring point guard for the right system. He’s already got a good build and is able to use his strength to get to the hoop. He’s not the most explosive athlete, but is quick enough to play for a D-I low major. He’s got a decent outside shot that should get more reliable with practice and coaching.
Perez is in the process of now transmitting his transcripts to St. John’s. Arizona never seriously recruited Perez because the coaches did not have time to thoroughly recruit him after starting their first season in Tucson last year.
He's in the same small city. So obviously, they are more interested in higher-impact players, or they would have gone to recruit him. Sean Miller definitely knows what talent looks like (like Perez' teammate in the AAU game, Jahii Carson).
Mike Perez still has to be cleared to play by the NCAA Clearinghouse. (And there is some indication that there may be a misunderstanding about whether Perez can commit yet.) So this is not yet a done deal. To me, he looks a bit like Quincy Roberts- a nice player with skill. Possibly a good backup, but may be even better with some high level coaching.
And hopefully he won't be TyShwan Edmondson, a low-level player who couldn't do anything credibly on the high Division-I level. That worst-case scenario is much worse when that player is the only backup to the point guard who was not making an impact; I will trust that Lavin has some kind of role or development in mind for Mike Perez. As it stands, he likely won't play much next year,m and will have time to work with the staff on his game while the seniors play their season.
We will see. Here are some videos of the newest member of the St. John's Red Storm.