May 19, 2010

Perea not your ordinary big man

When it comes to big men in high school, the same scouting report can be used in almost every player evaluation: Player A needs to get stronger or be more assertive on offense. He needs to enhance his footwork. They just are not explosive enough, etc.

However the key word in that phrase is almost every player. Meet Indiana Elite forward Hanner Perea.

Perea is not your typical high school big man. The Charlotte, NC resident stands just 6-7, but plays as if he is three inches taller-- mostly thanks to his long arms that hang nearly to his kneecaps. And don't worry about him needing to put on a gargantuan amount of weight like his fellow post players, seeing as he is already pushing 210 pounds as a sophomore for United Faith Christian Academy.

Forget faulting him on footwork too, as he displayed his skills with a near drop-step dunk five feet away from the basket last weekend at the AMC Classic in Bloomington. And if there were still questions about his explosiveness, just ask the poor 16U team that witnessed him windmill a breakaway dunk from the second hash mark of the lane.

So to say Perea is your typical high school big man would be a big mistake. He is a man and is not afraid to battle in the trenches to prove it.

"When I play post, I play very strong," the Colombian native said. "That (strength) has helped me a lot. And I can jump high, so that helps too."

One of the major upsides to Perea is that the big man recognizes where his strengths are. Unlike other bigs who tend to wander away from the basket towards the three-point line, the forward would rather bang down low and stay in the lane.

The reason? Simple:

"I like playing down low because it is closer to the rim," Perea said.

Genius.

But in order for Perea to continue his development, he needs to be versatile enough to move his game outside from time to time. Fortunately, he understands that logic.

Perea has been working harder on driving the ball and learning how to attack the basket while staying under control. He recognizes he still needs work on his outside shot, but his soft shooting touch could allow that process to be fairly painless. When those skills come to fruition, though, his versatility would help almost any collegiate program.

"I don't know if I will play inside or outside (in college), they [coaches] haven't told me yet," Perea said. "I am still working on my dribble, my shot, everything. So I don't know anything yet."

For Perea, he won't have to call around too many places in order to figure out his exact position in college. The forward has kept in contact with just a pair of schools, Indiana and Baylor, and seems content with keeping his list at two.

With Indiana, head coach Tom Crean seems to have made a nice impression on the big man, selling Perea on how his size could really be benefitted in Crean's offensive set.

"Mostly I like the coach," Perea said. "I like the form they play; they really play as a team. And they use their big men. They use them all the time. The big men (at Indiana) practice like they are point guards, so they would help with that and I know that would help (my game) out a lot."

Like Indiana, Baylor head coach Scott Drew has made a lot of headway with the North Carolina big man. However unlike the Hoosiers, Drew has the opportunity to show Perea his recent success with big men, like Ekpe Udoh, who is a potential lottery pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

"I like the coach, too, from Baylor," Perea said. "There are a lot of big men from Baylor that are going to the NBA and their coach has helped them a lot. So if I go there, I know he will help me get to the next level, too."

One possible scenario, though, that would benefit the Hoosiers would be a package deal of Perea and Indiana Elite teammates Peter Jurkin and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Perea expressed interest in the potential three-player addition and said the trio has been mulling the idea around.

"I want to go to school with Peter and D'Vauntes," Perea said. "We have been talking about that a lot. We will see what happens and keep talking about it. But I would really like to go with them."

With or without his AAU teammates, Perea would be a big get for either the Hoosier or the Bears program. And since he is in no hurry to decide his collegiate fate, Perea can continue to work on proving why he is no ordinary big man.

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