by Pete Janny, Sports Editor
Jose Perez will not have to miss a beat this season. After choosing to transfer to Manhattan, the senior point guard received news this past week that he will be immediately eligible to play this season.
Perez’s eligibility status was complicated given that he played at Gardner-Webb and Marquette before choosing Manhattan as his third school in four years.
With the way the status quo has been challenged during the pandemic, in Perez’s case Manhattan was simply another beneficiary of the less strict enforcement that has become associated with the NCAA. Whether coincidental or not, the new era of NCAA governance has come at a time when players are transferring in large numbers while, in most cases, not being subjected to traditional regulations for transfers. What was maybe seen as a risk for the nomadic Perez has paid off now that he has a waiver.
“I just want to win,” Perez said of his mindset heading into the season. “Personal goals come with winning.”
Perez originally made a name for himself at Gardner-Webb when he led the Runnin’ Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament in 2019. Despite a team-high 19 points, Perez and Gardner-Webb lost to the eventual champs Virginia in the first round of the tournament.
“Getting back to the NCAA tournament,” Perez said about what his biggest priority is. “I know coach [Masiello] hasn’t been back there as a team and I know it’s been a couple of rough seasons. I feel like we have a high major roster here.”
Perez’s memorable first season in college also included him joining RJ Barrett as the only two freshmen in Division I to claim a triple-double during the 2018-19 season. His freshman season also topped that of NBA Hall of Famer John Drew by passing him for most alltime points from a freshman in school history with 526. Perez was a triple threat for Gardner-Webb by posting a line of 44.8 percent from the floor, 38.1 percent from deep, and 70.2 percent from the free throw line.
Looking for a fresh start, Perez transferred to Marquette and spent only one season there. Playing in the Big East, Perez was nothing more than a bench option for the Golden Eagles in his brief time there. At Manhattan, Perez is expected to be thrusted into a starting role from the start while taking on a solid chunk of the ball handling responsibilities. The Jaspers have struggled shooting from three over the last two seasons, which makes the addition of Perez and his known shooting ability all the more important.
“It’s very good just adjusting to it, adjusting to new things and people on campus,” Perez said about acclimating to his new school. “I was down south then I went to the midwest and now I’m back home so I know a little bit about everything.”
With two years of eligibility remaining, Perez chose to do a homecoming for what figures to be the final stop of his college career. A native of the Bronx, Perez competed for the local Wings Academy as a burgeoning prospect before wrapping up his high school career at Putnam Academy in Connecticut.
Now finding himself at Manhattan is a full-circle moment for Perez and his career after growing up around the game in these parts. In that way, Perez is no different from past and present Manhattan players who also chose to be close to home. The 2021-2022 roster has four other players besides Perez who were born in New York City, so the roster dynamic should fit him well.
From a positional standpoint, the Jaspers project to be deep in the backcourt as Perez joins upperclassmen like Eli Buchanan, Ant Nelson and Samir Stuart. With Perez now on board, he will look to complement and enhance the synergy of that trio to compete with other top backcourts in the MAAC.
Perez and Manhattan will look to showcase their potential for the first time when they host Fordham at Draddy on Nov. 12