Winthrop men’s basketball is adding another potential impact transfer from the NCAA Div. II level.
Several recruiting web sites and analysts tweeted Tuesday night that Erskine sophomore wing Roderick Perkins was transferring to Winthrop, and Eagles coach Pat Kelsey confirmed the news on Wednesday. Perkins, a 6-foot-5 wing from Smyrna, Ga., was the second-leading scorer nationally in Div. II last season, pouring in 24.9 points per game.
“He’s long as heck, he’s slithery,” said Kelsey. “He’s kind of unorthodox when you watch him on tape, but he just has such a knack for putting the ball in the basket.”
Perkins’ impending arrival comes on the heels of Winthrop bringing in Keon Moore two years ago. Moore transferred in from Catawba, where he signed out of high school after going undiscovered by Div. I schools. Kelsey wanted to make clear that he and his coaching staff don’t hunt Div. II transfers. Perkins reached out to Winthrop, along with roughly 20 other schools.
“When he had a phenomenal year, I think he just wanted to pursue playing at a higher level,” said Kelsey. “He got his release and put feelers out there.”
Moore’s success in clearing the same path surely caught Perkins’ eye when he began looking for a Division I school. Moore led the Eagles in scoring this year with a 14-point-per-game average. The 6-foot-5 wing from Windsor, N.C., scored close to 16 per game from Jan. 1 on, and 17.4 per outing during five games in March.
Kelsey pointed out the improvement that Moore made during his season sitting out, per NCAA transfer rules. He got bigger, stronger and became a better defender, all changes Kelsey expects to see from Perkins, who will sit out this coming season. Kelsey said Wednesday, “by the end of the summer, (Perkins) will be 10 pounds heavier. And by next year, he’ll be 15 pounds heavier.”
Winthrop only graduates three players from this year’s team, and Derrick Henry, the team’s leading scorer two seasons ago, and 6-foot-8 post player Duby Okeke come off redshirt years next season. Playing time might not have been easy to come by in 2014-15, so Perkins’ year on the sidelines works out nicely. The Eagles would love Moore-type production from Perkins when he becomes eligible for the 2015-16 season, especially with Moore and guard Andre Smith slated to graduate before then.
“It’s perfect in the makeup of our team, to have a guy sit out this season,” said Kelsey. “We’ve got a lot of really good players back. It’s gonna be hard for anybody to come in and beat those guys out. That next year when those guys graduate, he’ll be ready to go.”
Like Moore, Perkins was an unheralded recruit coming out of Campbell High School in Smyrna. He ended up at Erskine with coach Mark Peeler and thrived immediately, earning the Conference Carolinas freshman of the year award for the 2012-13 season. But as a sophomore this past season, Perkins took off for the Flying Fleet and Peeler, a former Winthrop assistant coach in the early 1990s.
The hard-driving wing scored 30 or more points in nine of his 27 games, and reached 20 or more points in 20 of his 27 outings. Perkins ranked 23rd nationally with 85 made 3-pointers, and also averaged 6.7 boards per contest while producing five double-doubles. Perkins was named to the All-Southeast Region first team, though he missed out on All-American status.
Winthrop might not get that level of production from the Georgia native, but Kelsey expects Perkins to be a contributor with his ability to score. Kelsey’s favorite attribute of his newest addition? He definitely got a sense during Perkins’ visit to the Winthrop campus that the player is a hoops junkie.
“You can’t play for me unless basketball is really important to you,” said Kelsey. “You’ll be a miserable human being. It’s because of how we work and how we want our guys to be. I think he’s really hungry, he wants to be here, he wants to be really good and this redshirt year will be phenomenal for him. When he puts size on his frame and gets stronger, it could be scary how good he can be.”
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T