By Isaiah Rosario, Assistant Sports Editor
Manhattan College basketball player Jose Perez earned MAAC and Met Player of the Week for his performance against Iona and his stat-breaking performance against Canisius.
Perez averaged 30 points, four assists, two rebounds and a steal per game in those 2 performances. In the Jaspers’ 80-75 win against Canisius last Sunday, Perez scored a season-high 33 points, the second-most by a MAAC player this season.
Although it is a massive accomplishment to earn MAAC and NCAA MET Player of the Week, Perez has his eyes on the bigger picture.
“Honestly, it doesn’t mean anything to me. I just want to win,” Perez said. “I’ve seen the awards came out like the Lou Henson award and stuff like that, and I wasn’t up there. But I know what I’m capable of and I know that I’m one of the top players in the country just not playing-wise but IQ-wise and knowing what it takes to win.”
The Lou Henson Award is the National Player of the Year Award for men’s Division I basketball players. The Lou Henson Mid-Season Watch list consists of multiple positions from both the frontcourt and the backcourt. Currently, there is not a single conference in Division I that is dominating the list. But, one of the MAAC’s own is currently on the list, forward Nelly Junior Joseph from Iona.
Manhattan guard Elijah Buchanan is a long-term competitor of Perez. The Bronx natives met in junior high but have been playing against one another since they were young. Now both Perez and Buchanan are now helping the Jaspers fight their way up the MAAC rankings and hope for a lengthy run in the MAAC tournament.
“He [Perez] is a great leader. He pushes you to the limit, he pushes you to the best version of yourself,” Buchanan said.
Perez leads the Jaspers both in his scoring average of 16.5 points per game and assists average of 5.1 assists per game.
“Yeah, [Perez’s passing] is very critical, because it gets us our open shots, so it’s easier for the rest of us to score and that’s why we are second in the MAAC in scoring,” Buchanan said.
Coach Steve Masiello told The Quadrangle the struggle other teams have preparing to defend such a smart and versatile player.
“I think it’s a tough prep,” Masiello said. “He is a well-versed player and all around but I think what makes him really good is his IQ and his intelligence from a basketball standpoint, but he’s a tough match. He’s a hard guy to prepare for.”
Perez played his freshman and sophomore season at Gardner-Webb University. His freshman year he made the NCAA tournament, was a co-runner for freshman of the year and made the all-freshman team. Perez transferred to Marquette University for his junior year, but when head coach Steve Wojciechowski was fired he decided to come home to the Bronx and play with the Jaspers under the direction of Masiello.
“He’s probably the best coach I’ve ever been around,” Perez said. “I’ve been around some really good coaches. But he’s a player’s coach. And he actually cares a lot. Like into winning and stuff, and we’re the same person. So we’re sore losers, we don’t like losing.”
Masiello told The Quadrangle that Perez adds to the team both on the court and off.
“[Perez] is a very loving, caring person,” Masiello said. “He is very misunderstood, he has a very hard exterior and he’s very passionate.”
Masiello added that Perez’s family values extend this character.
“He’s really actually a mama’s boy. He’s very committed to his family and his loved ones and he’s a really good human being that is growing and trying to get better in a lot of ways.”