Jose Perez is hitting his stride at the right time for Arizona State basketball

Feb 1, 2024, 7:55 AM | Updated: 8:42 am

Arizona State Sun Devils guard Jose Perez...

Arizona State Sun Devils guard Jose Perez (12) points to a teammate during the college basketball game between the Southern Methodist Mustangs and the Arizona State Sun Devils on December 6, 2023 at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

TEMPE — About three months into his career with Arizona State basketball, Jose Perez has shown why head coach Bobby Hurley wanted him so badly in the first place.

The fifth-year college guard ranks second among the team in points per game at 13.4, right behind Frankie Collins at 13.7. He’s shooting 44.6%.

In the Sun Devils’ two losses to Oregon and Oregon State last week, Perez was one of the bright spots on the court.

He was the only player in double-figures in the 80-61 loss to Oregon, ending the game with 20 points, then led the team in scoring again a few days later against Oregon State with 19.

Despite his quality performances, ASU now sits 11-9 on the season heading into a hosting of Stanford on Thursday and Cal on Saturday.

“These are performances I should have been having from the beginning,” Perez said. “We didn’t win so these performances that I have now don’t mean nothing.”

With Perez’s uptick in baskets made and his ability to space out the floor now that he takes more three-pointers, Arizona State is hoping to build confidence around him.

“It’s not about losing two games, it’s about getting hot at the right time,” Perez said. “When you get hot in February or March, that’s when it matters. Because once you get hot around those times, you could beat anybody in a single game elimination after that.”

Perez attributed his own confidence level rising to why his score tallies are also rising.

While the 6-foot-5 guard has an unorthodox style, preferring to post up in the paint or make the extra pass, he said that his teammates have pushed him to shoot the three more. That’s because he’s hitting 52% from deep on only 1.3 attempts per game.

Perez’s highest-scoring night was against Utah on Jan. 4, when he went 4-of-5 from three, the most he had shot all season, to finish with 26 points.

Chasing an NCAA Tournament bid, Perez has only stepped up and will continue to have his name called upon as the Sun Devils enter their most crucial stretch of the season.

What Perez wants from his teammates is to have more confidence on the court. If they do, he believes the results in the win column will follow.

“I think the game of basketball is all about confidence,” Perez said. “I think once you start getting in your own head, you’re gonna miss the shot. I feel like once you see it go in and your teammates are boosting you up, the rim gets bigger.”

Right around this time last year, Perez wasn’t even able to play basketball.

At West Virginia, his fourth college in five years, Perez never had the chance to see the court — not because he wasn’t good enough but because the NCAA denied his waiver after his transfer from Manhattan College, and he was only enrolled for the spring semester.

Fast-forward to September, a few weeks before the 2023-2024 season starts, and it is announced that Perez is no longer with the team due to an “academic situation.”

It would take less than a month for Perez to find a new home in Tempe as he announced his commitment to ASU on Oct. 15, 2023.

“I had a scheduled visit with Ole Miss, but I had to cancel it because I fell in love with Coach Hurley right away,” Perez told reporters two days after his commitment.

ASU is his fifth college team in six years, with games played for Gardner-Webb (2018-20), Marquette (2020-21) and Manhattan (2021-22) before the year off while at West Virginia.

Hurley had nothing but good things to say about Perez and his development so far in his short time in Tempe, especially since Perez didn’t even have a training camp with the team before the season started.

The head coach praised Perez for his recent offensive performances despite the rest of the team struggling.

“He’s done a great job for us,” Hurley said. “He’s great with his experience and all the college basketball he’s played. He’s a unique type of player who brings something different to what we bring on the floor.”

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