SPOKANE—Sophomore guard Dominick Harris, cellphone video rolling during a break in Gonzaga’s picture day, tossed a basketball over his head inside the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Kaden Perry snatched the ball out of midair and slammed home a two-handed dunk.
“We connectin already,” Harris wrote in an Instagram post.
That wouldn’t have been possible several months ago when Perry arrived on campus, still healing from a couple of herniated discs in his back that cut short his senior season at Battle Ground High in early May.
The 6-foot-9 freshman forward could barely walk when he was initially injured, but he’s made steady progress over the summer. He’s been able to take part in some conditioning and drills.
“He’s been limited, but we think he’s going to be able to do everything now,” assistant coach Brian Michaelson said. “Obviously, he’s a little rusty, but he’s great healthwise.”
Perry was considered a candidate to redshirt if his back injury required a protracted recovery. A healthy Perry could find playing time in a crowded frontcourt that includes player of the year candidate Drew Timme, top-rated 2021 recruit Chet Holmgren, Anton Watson and Ben Gregg.
“He’s a big-time athlete,” Michaelson said. “He brings elite athleticism and a high motor. Those two things are at the top of the scale. He’s significantly different than the rest of the roster.”
Perry’s athleticism has drawn comparisons to former Zag and current Memphis Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke. Perry is taller and heavier, at 225 pounds, than Clarke, who is listed at 6-8 and 215.
“He’s the closest we’ve had to (Clarke),” Michaelson said. “He’s bigger than Elias (Harris). He’s probably most similar to Casey (Calvary).”