PORT CHARLOTTE (for now) — The Summer of Alex won’t be televised.
However, it has been tweeted, live-streamed, Instagrammed, TikTok’d, texted and just plain talked about from hither to yon.
That’s how a standout, two-sport athlete rolls in 2021.
Heading into his senior year at Port Charlotte, Perry has a broad mix of schools pursuing him for football and basketball. As such, he has found himself on the road for long stretches of what used to be considered the offseason.
Be it an official visit to a Power 5 school for football, or participating in a national basketball showcase, Perry’s summer has seen him pile on the frequent flyer miles.
“It has really meant a lot to me,” Perry said. “It’s the first time I’m really opening my eyes and traveling across the country.”
Growing up, both sports were of equal importance, but basketball nosed itself into the lead by his freshman year. It was that first year in high school that he skipped one to focus on the other. He returned to football for his sophomore season, but spent most of it on the junior varsity, since he had not put in enough time in the weightroom.
Finally up to speed in both sports, Perry exploded onto the scene during a stellar junior year. On the gridiron, he caught 28 passes for 658 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging more than 23 yards per catch. On the court, he averaged 18.8 points and 8.3 rebounds for a Pirates squad that made a deep playoff run.
At 6-6, Perry has the kind of size that makes him valuable in either sport. His quickness and ability to separate or dominate has elevated him to blue-chip status.
Perry anticipated the increased attention entering his junior season. It was finally his turn after spending years scrolling social media and seeing others blow up.
“I remember I would always look at Twitter and be jealous seeing people go to all types of colleges and tournaments and all of that,” he said.
Anticipating attention is one thing. Dealing with it when it came his way was something else. When that spotlight arrived, it struck like lightning. He had to back out of The Daily Sun‘s All-Area Awards Banquet on June 8 when Central Florida called and asked him to drive up for a football workout. He was on his way home when his mother, Alissa, accepted his award as The Sun‘s Athlete of the Year.
That following weekend, he was off to Purdue for an official football visit. Soon after was a football camp at the University of Florida followed by an unofficial football visit to Florida Atlantic. Interspersed in that time and through Independence Day weekend, he joined the Pirates’ basketball team at various team camps and showcases.
Now, Perry is traveling with an Elite team on the AAU circuit. Last weekend, he played for Southeast Elite in the 3SSB Adidas showcase in Hoover, Alabama. This weekend finds him in Atlanta. Next week is Nebraska, followed by another event in Atlanta, then on to Las Vegas.
Perry said it was gratifying to finally be doing the things he watched others do for so long, but he still feels the need to pinch himself.
“It still shocks me that I’m finally here, now, especially last week when I went to the Adidas tournament with the big stars,” he said. “I was shell-shocked because I’d just be walking and see Tracy McGrady and a bunch of other NBA players and famous people. It was just kind of crazy to me.”
It’s not all travel, but the work never ends. While he does spend Mondays through Thursdays at home, he is not idle.
“Monday through Thursday, I will practice football for two hours, then go to basketball for two hours, then later in the day I will go find an open gym,” he said.
Where Perry ultimately ends up remains murky. While he has many offers, he is keeping his options open, hoping for the perfect fit. The future business management major is seeking the perfect combination of business school and athletics, be it football or basketball. One thing he is not interested in doing is trying to play both at the next level.
“It’s kind of hard to be good at the two main sports,” he said. “I think I’m going to go for one sport and just try my best to make it at that one sport instead of focusing on both. I feel like right now if I played one sport, I could be 10 times better at it.”
A lifelong Gators fan, Perry said it would take a very potent offer elsewhere to drag him away from Gainesville, should either Florida sport come calling.
“Most definitely,” he said with a laugh. “Florida is most definitely my dream school. That, or North Carolina.”
The last week of July will bring Perry home to begin his senior season, where he’ll push for one last standout campaign on the gridiron and a deep playoff run in basketball.
“I’m going to try and bring a state championship to my school for the first time,” he said. “It’s going to be fun.”