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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Olson’s squad awaits under-the-radar guard

    Laval Lucas-Perry
    Laval Lucas-Perry

    LLP to UA

    Neither NBA star guards Dwyane Wade nor Gilbert Arenas were McDonald’s All-Americans, high-profile recruits or sudden college superstars.

    While comparisons to either player are unfair and were made by his high school assistant coach and his father, 2007 Arizona recruit Laval Lucas-Perry is taking the side road to possible stardom, unlike freshman forward Chase Budinger or 2007-commit forward Jamelle Horne.

    Lucas-Perry could be described as a late bloomer, a 6-foot-2 combo guard with a baby face, whose strength and new-found muscles have drawn the interest of not only Arizona men’s basketball head coach Lute Olson but football head coach Mike Stoops as well.

    “”A lot of the big schools probably got in on him a little bit later than normal,”” said Dave Pratt, Lucas-Perry’s assistant coach at Luke M. Powers Catholic High School. “”He grew a lot and became a lot more mature bodywise between his sophomore and junior year. Now that his body has changed and he’s gotten more physical and a lot more strength to him, he kind of blew up a little.””

    Lucas-Perry may have been a Class B All-State selection last season in Michigan, averaging 19.9 points per game, but Michigan and Michigan State took their time evaluating the prospect.

    Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has made a name for himself in recruiting in-state, and more notably in Lucas-Perry’s hometown of Flint, Mich., where he snagged the nucleus of his 2000 national championship team, a group that was nicknamed the “”Flintstones.””

    “”Michigan and Michigan State, they weren’t on me as much,”” Lucas-Perry said. “”It took Arizona two days to evaluate me, and they offered me a scholarship. It took Michigan and Michigan State a lot longer but they did offer me at the end.””

    “”Tom Izzo definitely expressed interest and wanted him to come there in terms of offering and so did Michigan, but I think Laval had made up his mind,”” added Lucas-Perry’s father, Laval Perry.

    The Spartans appeared to have a slight advantage based on Lucas-Perry’s family tree. Victoria Lucas-Perry, Laval’s sister, is entering her senior season at Michigan State, where she was an honorable mention All-Big Ten performer last season. However, Laval said there was no pressure to stay close to home.

    “”She told me to find the right school for me because she knew Michigan State was the right school for her, and she wanted me to do the same,”” he said.

    Laval’s father is also a life-long basketball player, having played under current ESPN analyst Dick Vitale at Detroit in the 1970s. Perry coached his son beginning when he was 5 years old, and Lucas-Perry’s other coaches have noticed.

    “”He’s very intelligent on the floor, and he knows what we’re trying to get done, and his maturity level will even be bigger this year,”” Pratt said. “”We expect big things out of him, and he can handle it because he has been in basketball so much.””

    Lucas-Perry said basketball has always been a part of the family.

    “”My dad has been a great influence because he knows what it takes to win at that level and the next,”” he said. “”I have a strong family background. All my sisters were all-state in basketball, and I have a little brother who’s coming into his own and could possibly be better than me.””

    Perry said: “”He’s always had the uncanny ability to understand the game.””

    As the fourth player to commit to Arizona’s 2007 class, Lucas-Perry becomes the first ball-handling guard. Despite being just 6-foot-2, Lucas-Perry said he can play a number of positions.

    “”Laval can handle the ball and make good decisions, but he can also score from inside and out,”” Perry said. “”His ability to get to the basket is one of the best that I’ve seen.””

    Until this past season, Lucas-Perry was overshadowed by some of the other talented players from the area, but playing on the AAU circuit against guards Derrick Rose (No. 3 overall prospect in 2007 by recruiting Web site Rivals.com), Eric Gordon (No. 8) and Chris Allen (No. 22) proved to his dad that “”he has the ability to play on that level.””

    “”He was right there playing with those guys, and in some of those games he may have outplayed those guys,”” Perry said.

    At Arizona, Lucas-Perry may have taken the place of Phoenix combo guard Jerryd Bayless, but Lucas-Perry said he’d love to play in the same backcourt with Bayless.

    “”I told coach Olson we need him,”” Lucas-Perry said. “”He’s a great attribute to our team and another player that can help win us another NCAA championship with coach Olson. Us two in the backcourt will be the strongest in the country.””

    Lucas-Perry’s visit to Arizona for the Lute Olson Advanced Skill and Development Camp over a month ago left him “”impressed,”” as he met former Wildcats in the NBA and the Arizona coaching staff and left with an overall feel of the program

    “”At the time, it was the place for me, and I just felt the love there,”” he said. “”They loved my game, and they loved me as a person.””

    Lucas-Perry said he’s most looking forward to “”adding another ring to coach Olson’s finger.””

    If nothing else, he should be good for the squad’s chemistry,

    “”He’s one of those kids that everyone likes,”” Pratt said. “”Everyone kind of gravitates to him; he has a smile that lights up the room. He’s one of those kids that gets along with just about everyone he comes in contact with.

    “”He’ll do really well in terms of the adjustment.””

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