Senior guard Jose Perez’s college basketball career has been a long winding road, albeit mostly successful to date.
The Bronx native has been rostered at four schools, including Manhattan College, and earlier this month he went into the portal with the possibility of attending a fifth school. However, the nomadic career for Perez is officially bound to end at West Virginia University, whom he recommitted to on July 21.
Perez’s career has been partially overshadowed with tough breaks, including the firing of former Manhattan Head Coach Steve Masiello two weeks before the start of last season, and then the departure of Bob Huggins from West Virginia after multiple offseason incidents that derailed the career of the Hall of Fame coach.
“This has been a very tough day for me and, honestly speaking, coach was the most caring person I ever met,” Perez tweeted the day of Masiello’s firing. “He cared so much for his players and honestly speaking it would [be] very difficult for me to put on a Jasper’s uniform again if coach ain’t on those sidelines.”
The latter situation is what prompted the 2022 All-MAAC First Team recipient to enter the portal this month after transferring to West Virginia last October.
Last season, Perez needed a waiver from the NCAA in order to play games at West Virginia after he was already granted a waiver when he transferred from Marquette University to Manhattan. The NCAA denied Perez’s waiver, and his appeal was also shot down which officially ruled him out of games.
Just this month, there was legitimate concern from West Virginia fans about whether Perez would ever suit up for the Mountaineers. He now chooses to stay in Morgantown over interest from top programs such as Michigan, Gonzaga and Oregon. According to Joe Tipton of On3, Perez was scheduled to visit Michigan from July 28-30.
After playing high school basketball at Bronx-based Wings Academy and then at Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut, Perez entered the national consciousness by leading the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs of North Carolina to the NCAA Tournament as a freshman in 2019.
He was only one of two freshmen in the country that season to record a triple-double in one game by recording double-digit tallies in three statistical categories. Perez joined former Duke Blue Devil and current New York Knicks star RJ Barrett in that exclusive club when Perez accomplished the feat with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a game against Savannah State.
Gardner-Webb lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to one-seed and eventual national champion University of Virginia, 71-56. In the loss, Perez scored 19 points with four threes to his name.
In an era of widespread transferring across college basketball, Perez has become a poster child of the movement for reasons out of his purview. The college basketball landscape also changed with the passing of NIL legislation in 2021 which allows students-athletes to cash in on name, image, and likeness deals. According to sources, Perez is receiving NIL compensation at West Virginia, after previously having a deal with Blue Chip Sports Management to sell his own apparel while at Manhattan.
In his lone season at Manhattan, Perez averaged 18.9 points-per-game and 4.5 assists-per-game. The Jaspers went 15-15 during the 2021-22 season with an 8-12 record in MAAC play.
Perez now teams up at West Virginia with former Manhattan guard and childhood friend Omar Silverio, who also hails from the Bronx.