Let's call Perry Stevenson what he is. The 6-foot-9, 185-pound center from Northside High School in Lafayette, La. is a legit high-major player with big time potential. The shot-blocking machine is changing his rep as a defensive specialist all the while leading his team to an impressive 19-1 record and a national reputation.
Stevenson, the No. 63 ranked junior in the country by Rivals.com, has emerged as one of the top center prospects in the country and he did nothing but help himself last week in Houston at the Low Down Classic. North Side evened their season series with Gulf Shores Academy, featuring Gerald Green and Jovan Adams, with a loss. But the team improved to 19-1 with a stomping of Houston's Heritage Christian.
The week before Northside beat D.J. Augustin's Brother Martin team as well as upsetting Gulf Shores. That heavy schedule has toughened up a team that features the long but rail thin Stevenson and 11 guards.
"The more we play, the better it helps us for district and that's what all of the marbles are for," Stevenson said. "We are doing good but we have a lot to improve on, a lot. Defense. The help side defense, rebounding, stuff like that."
Stevenson is much improved since he shined at the Reebok ABCD camp in N.J. this summer. He's showing off an improved jumper and a great sense of awareness at the top of the key.
"I might not play the center spot the whole time so I'm trying to improve my perimeter game," Stevenson said.
Northside head coach Rick LeBato sees th improvement, too.
"Offensively, he's worked so hard and that was one of the goals we set which was to try to get better each year and not stay the same," Lebato said. "When he went to N.J. at the ABCD camp he got a measuring stick and was able to see. You're not having to listen to Uncle Joe and Aunt Eva saying, 'You're going to be here and you're going there.' He got to see and it made a huge difference. He saw he had to really get in the weight room.
"His offensive moves are much better. He's got the (Kevin) Garnett move now with the two dribbles and reverse to the backboard. He can go baseline really well. And now, he can shoot the ball really well now for a big kid. As soon as he get his strength, which is holding him back, you'll see a kid that can really play the game."
With his great upside and knack for defense, it comes as a bit of a surprise that the class of 2006 prospect doesn't have any scholarship offers but he does have an impressive list of suitors. Kansas, Kentucky, LSU and Texas Tech are all in the picture.
History has taught that the best players from the Bayou State stay home and play for LSU. Brandon Bass, Glen Davis and Tasmin Mitchell all come to mind. Does Stevenson feel the pressure from locals to attend the home state school?
"None at all. They are leaving it all up to me," Stevenson said. "I could see if there were other people trying to influence the decision, then there would be pressure. But there's not any. Just me."
"(LSU has) been there early and coach (Butch) Pierre always done a good job but you know we've got to look and see what the best situation is for Perry," LeBato said. "Actually Butch has done such a good job over there, he's got five really good bigs right now. Kentucky knows this. Kansas knows this and Coach (Bobby) Knight knows this and they don't really have any bigs. The thing I'm going to basically tell Perry is what is the best for basketball situation because all of those places are nice places to get a diploma."
One school has stood out early on with the big man.
"I kind of like Kentucky," Stevenson admitted. "I'm kind of close to Reggie Hanson, their assistant coach and I like their style of play."
After his showing in Houston, his list will likely grow, and maybe, just maybe, he'll get that first offer, too.