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Why UCF Men’s Basketball Added Darius Perry

Perry, a 39% 3-point shooter with the Cardinals, will join the Knights as a grad transfer

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Clemson Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The UCF Knights bolstered their thin backcourt Monday by adding grad transfer and former Louisville Cardinals guard Darius Perry.

The news was first reported by Rivals’ Corey Evans. Perry is a former four-star recruit who has never put up eye-popping numbers — he averaged 5.2 points, 1.8 assists, 1.6 rebounds through three seasons at Louisville — but there are many reasons why this move was made.

  • First and foremost, the Knights needed another ball handler. Right now, sophomore Tony Johnson Jr. is really the team’s only other perimeter player who is a serviceable facilitator — and he still has a lot to learn in that area. During Louisville’s non-conference slate last season, Perry had games where he recorded seven, nine and 12 assists. He spent much of the season as the Cardinals’ starting point guard, but Perry has the versatility to play both backcourt spots.
  • He brings 100 games worth of high-level college basketball knowledge to the table. Although this team won’t be quite as green as it was in 2019-20, Perry immediately becomes, arguably, UCF’s most experienced player. No current Knight has laced up 100 times in college (Collin Smith has played in 97 games between UCF and George Washington University).
  • He is a dogged on-ball defender. That alone makes it obvious as to why Johnny Dawkins was enamored with Perry. The 6-foot-2 man out of Marietta, Georgia uses quick hands and fast feet to harass opponents. He and Dre Fuller Jr. could be quite the duo next season when it comes to defending guards and wings.
  • Perry is a competent 3-point shooter. He’s not going to camp out above the arc like Matt Milon, and he probably won’t be as much of a marksman as Darin Green Jr., but Perry can help space the floor and knock down a perimeter jumper. He was a 38.9% shooter last season (28-for-72) and had a near-identical line in 2018-19 (27-72).
  • He can drop the hammer with authority. He is a three-time member of the all-Atlantic Coast Conference Academic Team He supplies the energy on and off the floor. And he will get in your face.

If things were going smoothly for Perry at Louisville, of course, he wouldn’t be transferring. He saw his minutes and starts fall off during the second half of his sophomore and junior seasons. He struggled to get comfortable playing in Louisville’s pack-line defense. He can be a very streaky player on offense.

For instance, immediately following his 12-assist performance in 27 minutes against Youngstown State last season, he played 16 minutes and committed four turnovers with four fouls versus Indiana St. Or after a two-game stretch during ACC play during which he compiled 33 points in 49 minutes, he played 20 minutes over his next two games and scored two points.

UCF fans know all about streaky, inconsistent offense. Maybe Perry, who is scheduled to graduate next month, won’t eliminate shortcoming in his senior season. But between his experience, distribution skills, defensive focus, decent shooting touch and athleticism, it’s evident why UCF wanted to make him a Knight.