Jan. 23, 2004
By Grant Hughes
The Santa Clara
When the report that the Santa Clara Broncos had received a letter of national intent from Doron Perkins arrived on April 16, 2003, the reaction was quiet, at best. A junior college transfer from Southwestern Oregon Community College, Perkins hardly raised a stir among Bronco fans who heard of his signing. But then stories slowly began traveling down I-5 from Coos Bay, Ore.
Fans learned Perkins was originally from Alaska, the same state as All-WCC Bronco guard Kyle Bailey. Fans began to think that because Head Coach Dick Davey had good luck once with an Alaskan guard, maybe he would strike gold again.
"When I told Kyle we were going to go up and look at a guy named Perkins, he said he really liked him, which was a huge encouragement," Davey said.
"I never played against him, but our teams were in some of the same tournaments in high school," Bailey said. "We didn't really know each other or talk, but with a guy like him, you hear about him from other players."
With the interest of Davey, one of the West Coast Conference's most respected coaches and the stamp of approval from Bailey, the Broncos' best player, Perkins' imminent arrival became much more significant.
If Bronco basketball fans' interest in Perkins was increased by Dick Davey's and Kyle Bailey's feelings about Perkins, interest must have spiked when they read about his two junior college years as an SWOCC Laker. As a freshman, Perkins led his team to the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges title and was named the Southern Region's Player of the Year. During his sophomore campaign, Perkins posted incredible statistics and started drawing some serious attention to himself. Perkins finished second in the NWAACC in scoring and assists with averages of 25.0 points and 6.5 assists per game. He also finished sixth in rebounding with 9.9 per game and was again selected the NWAACC's Southern Region Player of the Year. Perkins was only the second player ever to win the region's MVP award twice.
In the month of February, 2003 alone, Perkins registered three triple-doubles in points, rebounds and assists. He poured in a career-high 49 points in an 89-80 win over Treasure Valley in a December holiday tournament and was named to the South squad at the NWAACC annual All-Star Game.
With all the rumors about what kind of player Perkins was going to be, there was a great deal of interest and uncertainty surrounding the 6-2 guard. With expectations rising before his arrival, Perkins joined the Broncos with something of a reputation to live up to. The next step in the process would be showing his coaches and teammates that his gaudy numbers in junior college were not flukes, but a result of his ability. Perkins certainly got to work on that task right away.
"When you first watch Doron play, the first thing you notice is his athleticism," Dick Davey said. "He can do a lot of things athletically that give our team opportunities on offense and on defense."
In early November, before the Broncos had even played, Assistant Coach Lloyd Pierce was impressed with Perkins' obvious natural ability.
"He is definitely the best athlete on the team, without a doubt. He showed he could come in and start right away, and he looks like he'll be able to take on the tough assignments on defense, too," Pierce said.
"Doron is definitely a really athletic guy, but he has come in and done a good job of learning our sets, and picking things up quickly. Like I said, he just gets it," senior captain Jim Howell commented.
All of the preseason rumblings contributed to raise the expectations on the Broncos and Perkins, in particular. Now all he had to do was go out and prove to opponents what his teammates already knew.
In the Broncos' third game, a November 26 contest against Central Michigan, Perkins led the team in scoring for the first time. After the victory, Perkins found his stride, leading the team in scoring in nine of the next 16 games. Early season highlights include a spectacular game-winning dunk in overtime against the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
"Perkins' dunk against UMBC could only have been duplicated by Lloyd Pierce," Dave Lewis, the Broncos radio announcer said.
"That dunk was ridiculous. He came out of absolutely nowhere, and was just way, way above everyone else," Lizandro Carrasco, team manager, said.
Besides athleticism, Perkins has displayed considerable skill on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The team's best one-on-one scorer, Perkins presents many problems for defenders, and has gotten to the free throw line over 100 times this year already. Perkins does, however, have the reputation of being a scorer, not a shooter.
"I'll tell you what though, we sure didn't want him to shoot," USF Dons Head Coach Philip Mathews said. "He's a real tough guy to prepare for because he puts so much pressure on your defense. He gets to the line pretty much whenever he wants to, and even though he's not known as a shooter, he's a 'big game shooter,' meaning he'll make big shots when you need them."
"We treated him like we would treat a shooter as good as a guy like Rohe," Mathews said.
A player who threatens a defense in as many different ways as Perkins can help his team by relieving the burdens of other players, like Kyle Bailey.
"Oh man, he takes a ton of pressure off of me," Bailey said. "He's another guy who can handle the ball, create his own shot, get shots for other guys. He makes it easier on everybody."
While taking pressure off of his teammates with his offensive abilities, Perkins most strongly affects the game on defense. He leads the WCC in steals by a wide margin, and has averaged a whopping four per game in conference play.
"I pride myself on my defense. Defense comes first," Perkins said.
Quick to credit his teammates and coaching staff, Perkins deflects praise by attributing his success to those around him.
"Good scouting reports let me make a jump on the ball a half second quicker. So I get a lot of my steals because of that."
"I know I'm looked to by the team as a defensive player. I try to guard the best guy. Offensively, I might be looked to as a scorer, but that's not as important to me. Everyone on the team can score," Perkins continued.
As the season continues, the Broncos will need Perkins' contributions more and more, especially in a season when the team has started conference play with a perfect 3-0 mark. Perkins knows defenses will be keying on him more than ever as word spreads through the WCC. The fact that Santa Clara was the only WCC school to show interest in Perkins might serve as motivation, though he denies it will.
"I know it's not going to be like it was last year for me. The guys here are bigger, stronger, and faster than anyone I had to play against before. But it's still basketball, you know? I just have to pick up my game and work harder. I know I can't let up," Perkins said.
If Perkins continues to improve on a regular season where he already appears to be a lock for the All-WCC team, the Broncos could enjoy major success in the postseason as well.