After Rough Challenges, Chris Perry is Finally Feeling Better

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It’s been a tough road for Chris Perry.

The NBA hopeful was dismissed from the University of South Florida in 2016 after what was a promising junior year. It was his second violation of team rules while at USF and it left him searching for a place where he could showcase his talent and hopefully catch the eye of NBA scouts.

Instead of going to another Division 1 school, he settled this season on Division 2 Lincoln Memorial University. He didn’t run into any trouble there and it ended up being a life-changing event.

“The best decision I made was staying away from stuff that got me put out of my last school,” Perry told Basketball Insiders at the NBA Draft Pro Day in Miami last weekend. “I’m feeling a whole lot better, I’m moving a whole lot easier. Ever since I made that decision I’ve been a better person.”

During his final year at USF, Perry averaged 10.1 points per game on 45.7 percent shooting from the field while pulling down 6.6 rebounds. In his lone season at Lincoln Memorial, he upped those averages to 17.9 points per game on 68.4 percent shooting and 8.4 rebounds.

Aside from staying away from trouble, Perry credits changes in his dietary habits for helping get him into prime shape and ready to pursue his goal of getting to the NBA.

“My agent is big on grilled food, watching my carbs, eating a whole lot better. That little stuff counts,” Perry said. “Before I was eating all fried foods and stuff like that and wondering why I’m feeling so bad out there. Now I’m eating better, I’m feeling better.”

Among the noticeable differences in his game since making that lifestyle change are his increased athleticism. At 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds, he fits the mold of an athletic forward who can play multiple positions. The type of player who is thriving in today’s NBA.

“I feel like I can pretty much maneuver myself to where I need to go with my strength,” Perry said. “And then I have enough skill where if I don’t get there, I feel like I can shoot over the top or throw my hook over someone. You got to be able to have a lot of skill cause athleticism doesn’t last all the time.”

One of the challenges he’s had to face on the court, however, is being able to finish in the post and at the rim against taller and longer defenders. He has used his time training and preparing for the NBA Draft to address this issue.

“Seeing a lot of undersized players, and I kind of put myself in that category too, so I know we have to go up fast and get it up on the basket a lot quicker than the seven footers,” Perry said. “I kind of figured out ways to shift my way in before the defense can get there.”

Adjusting to playing in the paint and going up against big defenders has made Perry relish contact and the physicality that comes with basketball. He wasn’t always like that, however, and it was something he worked hard to change.

“I started off soft, and I got tired of hearing that crap honestly,” Perry said. “I started off a baseball player, no physicality. I got tired of being called soft so I got in the weight room and started doing me.”

There’s no question that Perry can score. He’s proved that during his time in college and he’s proved that while at Pro Day. But it’s the other things that separate players from the rest of the pack. The little things that make them stand out and make them more appealing to NBA scouts.

Perry isn’t shy about identifying what his weaknesses are and what he needs to improve if he wants to truly grab the attention of NBA teams.

“More defensive effort and more rebounding most definitely,” Perry said. “Defensively I can get a lot lazy.”

For a player like Perry, someone who might be right on the borderline of being drafted, those little things make all the difference. Another aspect that teams may look at is a player’s personality. That may also play a major factor in whether or not a player gets drafted.

Perry simply hopes NBA teams give him an opportunity and trust that he can be a positive influence for a franchise.

“I feel like I make a lot of people around me happy and better,” Perry said. “I just create a lot of positive vibes honestly. That’s all I want to bring.”