Just yesterday, news of Rashanti Harris' rumored ineligibility forced me to reassess the state of the coming UTEP Miners men's basketball team. Yesterday was undoubtedly a step back for the program as our suddenly thin front court appeared to lose Harris due to academic reasons. Today, however, the Miners received a much needed boost to the backcourt as Pueblo (Tucson) shooting guard Michael Perez officially began classes at UTEP. Perez, according to his twitter account, just recently decommitted from St. Johns and he announced, again via twitter, that he signed with UTEP yesterday.
Perez is a 6'3 shooting guard known for being a tremendous leaper. He flew under the radar on the recruiting circuit and seemed destined to land at a junior college. Then, he began to make a name for himself on the AAU circuit. According to the Tucson Citizen:
Perez, 6-foot-3, who has tremendous jumping ability and averaged 29.9 points and 8.1 rebounds a game last season, had never visited New York when the offer came during the AAU showcase month.
Newly hired coaches, desperate to fill roster spots, soon discovered Perez who was one of the top uncommitted targets in the nation after signing day. St. Johns head coach, Steve Lavin, saw Perez at an AAU Tournament and offered him immediately. His best offer at the time was a chance to walk-on at UTEP. The Miners didn't have an available scholarship to give to Perez until now- a week after Myron Strong was dismissed from the squad. Lavin, also, reportedly couldn't wait this late in the summer to wait to see if Perez would be cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Perez was cleared last week and signed a LOI with UTEP on Sunday.
Rivals rates Perez as a three star prospect. The Tucson Citizen, in a separate article described his game:
The 6-3 Perez appears to be capable of playing either guard spot, but could wind up being a very nice scoring point guard for the right system. He’s already got a good build and is able to use his strength to get to the hoop. He’s not the most explosive athlete, but is quick enough to play for a D-I low major. He’s got a decent outside shot that should get more reliable with practice and coaching.
At the SWS Senior Showcase, Hoops Report was very impressed with Perez.
Perez has the total package. Mike was a top 5 performer in this event. Mike shoots it very well mid or long range, handles the ball well, very athletic and has a very good mental game to go along with all of his physical attributes. Perez is definitely a mid major prospect possibly a high major prospect depending on the program.
If you didn't believe that Perez could jump, watch this short video clip showing 2, 360 degree dunks he had in a game.
Lastly, here are some more highlights, including some game tape from Perez.