04/21/04 — EW's Perkins signs with St. Andrews

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EW's Perkins signs with St. Andrews

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 21, 2004 2:03 PM

Some might call it a whirlwind decision.

Jessy Perkins would disagree.

The Eastern Wayne senior needed just one college visit to decide her future on the basketball court. She signed a national letter-of-intent to play with St. Andrews, a member of the NCAA Division II Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference.

Perkins turned down offers from Peace, Newberry (S.C.) College, Pfeiffer University and Lenoir Community College. Her main goal was to remain in North Carolina and close to home.

"Whenever they called me, they were really friendly," Perkins said of her recruitment. "I went up there to visit and I just loved the campus. The coaches were really nice.

"I didn't want to go too far away, just a couple of hours from home."

The St. Andrews staff got their first look at Perkins when she played in an AAU game with the East Carolina Storm last summer in Charlotte. They liked her play in the post, particularly her physical ability and knack for rebounding.

Perkins saw the Knights play Mount Olive in person, and liked the team's demeanor. There was no off-court bickering and the players seemed to work together well as a team. She got the same impression when she attended a recent team tryout.

"There was a lot of teamwork," Perkins said. "There were no negative comments at all. Sometimes I can take criticism, but I take it a lot better than someone yelling in my face and telling me to calm down."

Perkins helped Eastern Wayne to an 11-13 record this season, which included a trip to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A playoffs. She earned a spot on the 2003-04 News-Argus All-Area second-team basketball squad.

She averaged a double-double, but had to constantly move outside the low post to get the ball. She developed a soft 15-foot jumper since the Warrior backcourt consistently struggled to get her the ball down low.

Perkins attributed her on-court success to former Eastern Wayne coach Jerry Pelt and AAU coach Anthony Loftin. Each always offered constructive criticism to the 6-foot center, who always attempted to apply that knowledge on the court.

Of course, long afternoons of pick-up games at the YMCA -- against physical boys -- has helped, too. Perkins learned to bang bodies underneath the basket, either getting position for a layup or a rebound.

That physicality should help her in the CVAC. Most of the teams have tall, aggressive post players. They also run offenses which like to pull post players from the basket and give the guards more flexibility on the perimeter.

"I'm very competitive," Perkins said. "I still have a lot to work on, getting in shape. I can still use some work on my post."

Perkins plans to pursue a degree in elementary education and eventually teach second grade. She hasn't ruled out coaching. But until the day she graduates and contemplates another future, she'll do her best to help St. Andrews succeed on the court.