Basketball is not just a living for Anthony Perry, but it’s a way of life. It’s a family lifestyle. Perry got into coaching at the age of 14 thanks to his aunt, who was the assistant director of a Boys and Girls Club in Arkansas.
He created his own youth basketball program, the Springfield Rockets, back in 1994. He was there until 2002, when he got into college coaching. Now he coaches the MOKAN basketball squad of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, which includes Michigan basketball’s latest committed prospect — 2022 four-star big man Tarris Reed.
The 6-foot-9, 230-pounder will play his final year of high school basketball at Link Year Prep in Branson, Missouri. But his journey began with Perry. He just wrapped up his third year with the team, and those three years have made Perry a believer that Reed will be impactful at the next level.
“The things that makes me believe that he has potential to be successful at the next level is his work ethic, his mindset, his desire and his competitiveness,” Perry told Maize n Brew. “He’s driven because he wants to be a pro, and so that’s how he approaches everyday. Like, what can I do today to get better for the next level?
“The other part he’s motivated by is he feels like he’s underrated — underappreciated by some of the other writers or the selection people that pick players that so many guys are considered to be better than him, when you go by rankings. So everyday he is on a mission to show that (they) have (the rankings) wrong.”
What Perry sees out of Reed
Perry is excited for what is to come with Reed in college. So excited, in fact, that he believes he can be a contributor right away.
“He made the switch from his high school to a different high school to actually help prepare him more for college. So for him, when he gets to college, he wants to make sure he’s ready from Day 1 to step in and contribute to the teams success,” Perry said. “He wants to be going into college already.”
Although Reed is eager to already step foot onto the University of Michigan’s campus, he’s going to have to wait, just like the rest of his 2022 classmates. He won’t just be sitting around and waiting for that day to come, as Perry details some things he plans to work on before he gets to Michigan, including when and when not to pull up a jumper.
“This last year of high school, he wants to get bigger, faster, stronger, improve his inside and outside game. He can do a little bit of everything, and that’s what he has to understand when continuing to learn. ‘When should I be inside? When should I be outside?’ And that’s what he focused on at the Peach Jam. He’d pretty much beast a guy inside, and then the next trip down he goes out on the perimeter and shoots a jump shot. It’s like ‘Tarris, no! You just beast a guy on the inside and let him off the hook with a jump shot when he has no shot of covering him inside.’ He has a great body, but needs to understand how to use his body to his advantage.”
Another factor into why Perry sees Reed contributing early on in his college career is because of his transition to Link Year Prep.
“I have a feeling he’s going to improve even more this year,” Perry said. “He’ll have a full-time strength and conditioning coach who will help his body every single day, a nutritionist, a coach that has 17 years of college coaching experience under his belt with a college coaching staff in high school that will push him like he’s already in college. He’s going to be able to improve on his weaknesses to turn them into strengths.
“He will be a lot better than what most people expect him to be when he steps foot on campus.”
The Wolverines pulled the trigger on offering Reed back in April. They did quick work to get him up on an official visit, which happened the last week in June. That visit capped of a month’s worth of visits to other Big Ten programs — Michigan State (June 3), Purdue (June 11) and Ohio State (June 21).
Perry did not accompany him on his visit to Ann Arbor, but he did speak with Reed after the fact. It was a visit he raved about.
“He really enjoyed the visit. He loved the players, coaching staff, city — felt like he could find himself in a situation where he can set himself up for success,” Perry said.
And it was the coaching staff, Howard specifically, that initially piqued his interest level in Michigan in the first place.
“The thing that really drew him to Michigan was the coaching staff, he really loved the coaching staff,” Perry said. “He loved the players when he went and visited — he knows Juwan is a great coach; in the short time he’s been there he’s already done some great things, and the recruiting classes he’s been able to put together. But the most important thing we talked about after the visit that stood out more than anything is Juwan is just a genuine person. You can tell when someone is genuine, and Juwan is genuine.”
Perry recalled a conversation he had with Howard when he said he sees “a lot of himself” in Reed, and that it “kind of drew Juwan to Tarris because he’s very similar to himself in a lot of ways.”
“Tarris sees it too, going back watching Juwan. Juwan played at the level Tarris wants to play at, so what better situation could it possibly be than to learn from him?”
What kind of person is Tarris?
Tarris’ talent level on the court is undebatable — the kid has loads of potential. But what kind of human is he? What is he like off the court when he doesn’t have a basketball in his hands?
Perry’s answer came back to what started it all for him all those years ago — family.
“Tarris is a high character person who will represent the school, program, his family with the utmost class and respect,” he said. “A person that’s similar to Juwan as far as that goes.”