Perkins Ready To Help Hawkeyes

Tony Perkins poses with family and friends after signing with Iowa in November. (Contributed photo)

Adam Hensley

Lawrence North head coach Jack Keefer knows a thing or two about basketball.

After all, he’s coached the program for 44 seasons and has more than 800 wins on his resume.

So when Iowa basketball assistant coach Sherman Dillard — an old friend of Keefer’s — called asking about high-flying Lawrence North guard Tony Perkins, Keefer didn’t hold back.

“I said, ‘Get your butt down here,’” Keefer recalled with a laugh.

The Iowa coaching staff saw Perkins, a three-star guard out of Indianapolis, play at an NCAA camp heading into his senior season.

Perkins had offers on the table from mid-major programs like Bradley and Ball State, but he made it official on Oct. 20, 2019, when he committed to the University of Iowa.

“(Iowa) made me feel wanted,” Perkins said. “Everybody introduced themselves. They put me in a platform of telling me who they are and wanting to watch me play there. (It was) pretty much the community, the coaching staff, and the players bringing me in as one of their family.”

So what does Perkins add to Iowa basketball?

Athleticism, for starters.

During his senior season, Perkins and his teammates lived above the rim, so much so that fans began running a counter for dunks.

“I think we had 120 or something,” Keefer said. “Tony was the biggest dunker you’ve ever seen.”

Perkins averaged 18.6 points per game as a senior, and many of those points came on high-percentage dunks and layups in transition.

“I love to push the ball. I just like to go,” Perkins said. “At times, I can slow it down, but I love to push the tempo and have a high energy in the game.”

The Hawkeyes averaged 70.2 possessions per 40 minutes last season, ranking 77th in adjusted tempo out of 353 teams, according to KenPom.com — not a slow mark by any means — but adding a guard like Perkins can only help speed things up.

“As I watched Iowa play, and they were a very good team, but I felt like they needed a little more athleticism,” Keefer said. “I think that’s what he’ll bring to them. The game will automatically become a little more exciting because he just flat out runs the floor. When there’s an open court, it’s amazing how he can get above that rim from about anywhere and put it down.”

But it’s his shooting — something Perkins isn’t necessarily known for — that he prides himself the most on.

While his quickness allows him to attack the rim with ease, Perkins said that extending his range was the biggest priority heading into his final year at Lawrence North.

“I knew I had to bring it all together my senior year, and that’s what I did,” Perkins said.

Perkins finished his senior season averaging 35% from 3-point range, and that’s after suffering an injury late in the year. According to his coach, Perkins was shooting close to 43% from distance prior.

That combination of driving, shooting, facilitating (3.5 assists per game), and defense (1.8 steals) is why Perkins is among the five finalists for Indiana’s Mr. Basketball. The winner will be announced Friday on Indystar.com.

“In my opinion, he’s probably the best player in the state this year.” Keefer said.

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