Keiodre Perry has overcome a lot during his four years of high school.
From struggles with grades early on that kept him off the court for a while, to what he referred to as the heartache of losing teammates who transferred away from Eastside after their junior season, the 6-foot-4 senior combo guard called traversing through high school a “long process.”
But on Friday, when he signed his letter of intent to play basketball at Northern Oklahoma College, he said he was ready to go through it all over again to reach his ultimate goal.
“I know eventually I’ll be at a big university somewhere,” Perry said. “But I know I’ve gotta work hard. Coach (Donnie) Jackson told me from the beginning that it’s not gonna be easy. And that’s just like here. It’s been a long process, but now it’s gonna be another long process. But I’ll be ready for it.”
Perry was sometimes a one-man juggernaut for his Eastside Eagles squad this past season. Perhaps that was never more true than when he exploded for 49 points against Mary Persons in the first round of the state tournament this season.
Eastside lost and was eliminated, but it was the kind of game that Eastside coach Brent Wren said shows the kind of potential Perry has.
“Really, he doesn’t have a ceiling as to how good he can be,” Wren said. “I don’t think he has one, just because of his approach to the game, and really his approach to life in general. He’s a fun guy and he enjoys what he does, and any time you really enjoy what you do, there’s really no ceiling for you. You just get batter and better at it, and improve even more.”
The improvement jump Perry made from his junior season when he was flanked by Isaiah Miller and Joshua Cammon to his senior year after the two transferred to others schools showed up mightily in the stats sheet, particularly in scoring.
Perry averaged close to 23 points per game en route to being named Region 4-AAAA Player of the Year. Perry is also a first-team Class AAAA all-state selection by way of the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association and Sandy’s Spiel.
But more important than those accolades, Wren says, is what Perry did for his team.
“He made us better,” Wren said. “Sometimes just his presence on the court made us a better team.”
That was Perry’s aim. He said he’s proud of the way his squad came together after the shifts and moves to be better than what many expected.
“A lot of people counted me out,” Perry said. “A lot of people counted Eastside out, and didn’t think we’d be anything. That drove me and the players to kick it up a notch.”
Now Perry’s going to be working to do the same as he says he wants to get his body bigger and ready for the rigors of college basketball. But he said he’s extremely grateful for his time at Eastside which has helped prepare him for the next level.
“It’s maturity,” he said. “I’ve matured a whole from 10th grade to now. At the beginning of my ninth grade year, everybody was going to Newton, and I was like, ‘Dang. I wanna go there too where everybody else is.’ But then I met coach (Marquis) Gilstrap, and really bonded with him, and we did some great things. And I’m looking forward to doing more.”
That’s something that virtually everyone around Perry believes will happen — including coach Joe Veihman who has worked extensively with Perry this season as his role changed to being the team’s undisputed go-to player.
“He’s a special player,” Veihman said. “He’s a gym rat. Just a hard worker. I have no doubt he’ll go far.”
Perry is the second Eastside player to sign a college hoops scholarship last week. Jesse Walden signed to LaGrange College this past Tuesday. It’s all a sign, Wren said, of the solidness of his Eastside program.
“It just shows that if players are willing to come in and work, they’ll get where they need to be right here,” Wren said. “You don’t have to go all over the place to get things done. If you’re willing to put in the work, it’ll take care of itself.”