Senior is one of the top basketball prospects in the country
The first days of practice for Battle Ground basketball are described as tryouts.
Let’s go out on a limb here and say Kaden Perry will make the team.
One of the best players in the country, Perry has been playing club ball and has continued to work on his game throughout the pandemic. Still, he is thrilled to be preparing for one final season of high school ball.
“I just took it all in,” Perry said of Monday’s first practice with the Tigers. “Being back in the gym is just awesome. This is my last hurrah at Battle Ground.”
And it is 13 months in the making.
Basketball was the last high school sport to conclude a season prior to the pandemic in Washington. The Tigers made it to the Tacoma Dome for the second year in a row as the final 12 teams in the state. That tournament ended the first week in March. The next week, well, you know what happened.
Months into the pandemic, the high school basketball season was delayed. Practice was going to start in December. Then delayed again. Then put on life support. Honestly, there were times when basketball coaches did not think a high school season would materialize.
Perry, though, kept playing, kept training. Club basketball was allowed in many states.
He also signed his national letter of intent with Gonzaga in November, more than a year after he made a verbal declaration of his intention to play for the Zags.
“It was weird to travel … but not be able to put on one final show in my hometown,” Perry said.
“It’s not that I haven’t been playing, but high school is a lot different than AAU ball,” he added. “Everyone wants that last huge hurrah season with your high school team before going off to college.”
A few weeks back, the governor pushed the state’s recovery plan forward, and basketball was given the greenlight to proceed. (Since then, some counties have taken steps back on the recovery plan, but for now, Clark County is still a go for high school basketball season.)
“It’s a lot more intense,” Perry said of official basketball practice with the Tigers rather than just shooting around with friends and teammates. “We’re getting ready. We’re talking about matchups. It’s exciting to get back on the court. We haven’t had that in forever.”
He did have a team to cheer for over the winter and into early spring, of course. Perry might not yet be on the roster, but he is a Gonzaga Bulldog. He watched the championship game against the Baylor Bears with his mom and friends.
“I was nervous,” Perry said. “It was disheartening for every Zag fan. I don’t think it was their best showing. I know if they had a chance to play them again it would be a different game. But gotta keep their heads high.”
It was, after all, a historic season. Gonzaga was 31-0 before the loss to Baylor.
“I can’t wait to be part of that next year and, hopefully, make another run but with a different ending,” Perry said.
Interestingly, Gonzaga is the odds-on favorite to win it all in 2022, according to sportsbooks in Las Vegas.
First thing first, though. There is no state tournament this upcoming high school basketball season, but there are so many quality programs in Southwest Washington. Perry said Battle Ground wants to prove it is the best in the area.
“I hope we do great things,” Perry said. “I just want to dominate.”
No guarantees of a 4A/3A GSHL title. No promises. Just a commitment to do what he can to lead Battle Ground one final time.
“I’m hoping Battle Ground goes out with a W,” he said.
Perry got a big personal W just a few weeks ago. He was named to the 2021 USA Nike Hoop Summit Team. Traditionally, the event features the best high school players from America against the best players from around the world. This year’s game will not be played, but Perry will always be known as a member of the squad.
Perry said he got late word that he got an invitation to a USA workout. He said he wasn’t as prepared as he would have liked to have been before traveling to the event. Clearly, though, he impressed the right people.
“It’s a huge honor,” Perry said. “I was ecstatic.”
Team USA knows all about his game. Southwest Washington has been watching him for years. But Perry said there is at least one more thing he would like to share: A 3-point shot.
“No one would think of guarding me at the 3-point line because I wasn’t that player,” Perry said. “I wouldn’t even think of shooting it. I put in so much time, though. I’m not afraid to shoot the ball.”
A dominant post who can now shoot the 3-ball?
The pandemic changed the basketball schedule.
It did not change Kaden Perry’s pursuit of basketball excellence.
Note: Spring and winter sports practices started Monday for the 4A and 3A GSHL programs. The two seasons will run simultaneously through June. The 2A and 1A schools started spring sports a couple weeks ago. A winter sports season will begin later this academic year. Clark County Today will post profiles on athletes from a variety of sports in the coming weeks as athletic programs conclude the COVID-19 sports calendar.