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SLU’s Perkins to Return for 2021-2022 Season

Saint Louis senior guard Javonte Perkins announced that he is coming back for the 2021-2022 season to use his extra year of eligibility granted due to the pandemic. Perkins, who is the Billikens’ leading scorer averaging 16.9 points per game this season, immediately becomes the most notable player in the A-10 to use this option, and one of the best seniors in the country to announce he is coming back. 

In a statement tweeted out by SLU on Sunday night, Perkins said, “It has always been my dream to play professional basketball, and this decision will help prepare me for that and so much more. Also, there’s nothing better than playing in front of a packed Chaifetz Arena and I can’t wait to experience that again next year.” 

The 6’6 Perkins is a St. Louis native, having gone to Miller Career Academy for high school, and then spent two years at the JUCO level at Southwestern Illinois College. Perkins quickly established himself as a dangerous scorer as a junior averaging 15 points per game while shooting 44% from the field and 35% from three his junior year, enough to earn him 3rd team All-A10 plaudits. Perkins has improved his numbers this year, averaging 16.9 points per game while shooting 47% from the field and 42% from three. 

While Frank Cusumano of local St. Louis TV station KSDK had reported that Perkins was considering returning next season, the news still comes as a surprise considering Perkins has legitimate professional potential, and likely would have found a spot playing overseas next year. 

Perkins’ decision to come back is huge for a SLU team that will be losing Jordan Goodwin and Hasahn French and gives Travis Ford a true go-to guy to build around. For Perkins, staying an extra year will allow him to show scouts that he can truly be a first option for an offense. He’s absurdly gifted, with good size, long arms, and a quick, repeatable stroke, but Perkins has struggled when teams have targeted him this year, and he has room to improve in his shot creation and defense. If he can shore up his weaknesses though, anyone who can score like Javonte Perkins has a shot at the NBA. 

Staying an extra year where he can really be The Man next year could really pay off for Perkins, and I do think it is what’s best for him in his development as a basketball player. However, there is an inherent risk in putting off the chance to make money as a professional basketball player, and Perkins is certainly making a gamble. Perkins is in a unique position to benefit from taking the extra year because if he takes a big step next year, he could find himself being talked about as a NBA Draft prospect despite his age. 

For SLU, this is a huge victory. Travis Ford is now returning his most reliable scorer and this will greatly help ease the transition into the post-Goodwin-and-French years. SLU immediately becomes a far more dangerous team than without Perkins and it gives younger players like Gibson Jimerson, Yuri Collins, Fred Thatch, Terrence Hargrove and Markhi Strickland more time to develop into larger roles over the course of the season. 

For Javonte Perkins, he is making a huge bet on himself. He’s passing up almost guaranteed lucrative employment next season in order to show he can make a huge leap and vault himself onto NBA teams’ radar. Perkins has enough talent where it really might be worth passing up the immediate paycheck in the chance that the increased exposure he’ll see next year at SLU leads to more lucrative ones in the future. His statement makes it clear, this is about bettering his position to be a professional basketball player. That’s the way it should be, and now Billiken fans get to spend next season as beneficiaries of Javonte Perkins’ choice. 

Jack Godar covers Saint Louis University for A10Talk. He is a St. Louis native who grew up rooting for SLU, but is a graduate of College of the Holy C...