If you are looking for breakout candidate ahead of the 2019-2020 season, there may not be a better pick than Darius Perry. Perry, a consensus top 100 prospect with a slew of high major offers out of high school in 2017, committed to Louisville and came to town with high expectations. He has yet to reach his full potential in the two seasons, specifically offensively, but has shown signs that can make a fan optimistic of his potential.
Just based on the eye test, Perry has looked like someone who would eventually make the leap. He’s got the athleticism. He has tools combined with a high motor. He reminds you of Russ Smith a bit. It’s unfair to compare him to one of the undisputed greatest players to ever wear the Red and Black, but his on ball defense and overall style of play are as similar as anyone we’ve seen in the 5 seasons post-Russ. Even his personality draws comparisons to the great Russdiculous. With the expectation that Darius Perry will have more opportunity this season, he enters the year primed as ever to make an impact for Louisville. Is this the season he makes that jump?
Hometown: Marietta, GA / Wheeler
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Darius Perry joined the Louisville Cardinals as a freshman in 2017-2018. He played in all 36 games, averaging 3.9 points, 1.5 assists and 1.2 rebounds. He scored in double figures twice, both instances coming within his first three games as a Card. Perry did not light up the stat sheet by any means. He played sparingly at times, but saw a more consistent workload as the season progressed under interim head coach David Padgett. He ultimately was a valuable defensive asset as a freshman who occasionally showed some explosiveness on the offensive end, like he did in the NIT against Northern Kentucky.
Darius Perry WITH THE FLUSH! pic.twitter.com/eRyhsiDgws
— ESPN (@espn) March 14, 2018
Perry entered his sophomore season as a breakout candidate. With Chris Mack at the helm for his first season as head coach, Darius seemed like a guy who could fit right in and make an impact given the lack of depth on the team. Remember those Russ Smith comparisons? Well, however unfair they might be, there was definitely some buzz that he could make a sophomore leap just like Smith famously did in 2012. What followed was an up and down campaign that saw marginal growth statistically.
Perry played in 33 games as a sophomore, starting 11 while averaging 5.4 points, 1.5 assists and 1.2 rebounds. Just like his freshman year, he came out hot. Darius averaged 14.7 points through three games, but would not register another double figure scoring performance until he did so in the final two games of the season against UNC and Minnesota. While he still brought defensive intensity, his offensive performance left plenty to be desired for a team that only won four games after the end of January.
Its a new year and there is more buzz around Darius Perry as a breakout candidate. He’s a junior, but enters his second season under a new head coach. Having only played 15.3 minutes per game in his career, it looks like his time should increase this season. It’s a loaded roster and no one truly knows how Coach Mack plans on distributing the playing time. Fresh Kimble would probably take on primary ball handler responsibilities to start the season. Perry has been more successful as an off the ball player so far into his college career and seems like a logical candidate to see time in the backcourt opposite Kimble. Last season he raised his shooting averages significantly, but he shot fewer free throws as a sophomore and did not attack the rim as often.
Ideally, Perry could serve as an off the ball guard who is an above average shooter from outside with an ability to get to the rim at a high rate. That could depend on how he is used; we could definitely look up in a few weeks and Perry is more of an on the ball player. His career assist and turnover numbers are practically identical. Coach Mack has called Perry out specifically as someone who needs to improve his decision making with the ball in his hands.
What you should expect is for him to be the best on ball defender on the team. There is absolutely a scenario where Darius Perry becomes one of the most feared on ball defenders in the ACC or even the entire nation. He is someone who has been praised by the coaching staff throughout the offseason. It appears that they want him to be a big part of this team. His performances on the court will end up deciding whether he’s a bench player with high potential or a starting level guard who is a crucial piece on a top 10 team.