March 9, 2010 11:03:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Rashad Perkins didn''t want to take too much credit for Starkville High School''s run to the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A state title, but it''s hard to deny his impact.
Perkins had 21 points, 14 rebounds, and 13 blocked shots against Biloxi in the state semifinals before scoring 25 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in the state final against Meridian.
For his accomplishments, Perkins is The Commercial Dispatch Prep Player of the Week.
Perkins loaded the Yellow Jackets on his back through the adversity of foul trouble and led the youngest team in the tournament.
But he said the task wasn''t as difficult as his numbers indicate. He knows his team relies on him for scoring, but he said the Yellow Jackets'' defensive mind-set and team approach requires all five players on the court to contribute.
"It''s all a product of working hard," Perkins said. "Our defense makes the game easier for us. The harder the other team has to work, the more tired they are. That just makes it easier for us to get out and run, which we love to do.
"We take pride in that, and out of the games we won and lost no has made us work harder than we''ve made them work."
Along with the title and player of the game honors, Perkins was named to the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star game roster, the Memphis-Mississippi All-Star roster, and the Florida-California game. Perkins had hoped to make the McDonald''s All-America team, but he isn''t lamenting not being selected.
Perkins and the Yellow Jackets (29-2) earned the gold ball that has been missing from Starkville, and he''s enjoyed the acclaim that''s come with the team''s return to town. He hopes he can help the team earn even more hardware when it plays at 2:30 p.m. Friday against the winner of the game between Class 1A champion Ingomar and Class 2A West Bolivar in the Grand Slam Basketball Championship in Jackson. The winner of that game will play at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Perkins is looking forward to this weekend''s tournament, which will feature all six state championship sides in a tournament to see who rules the basketball landscape in Mississippi. He said the team is gearing up for the Grand Slam, but that the luster of the event doesn''t compare to winning the Class 6A crown.
"The feeling of winning the state title is going to be fresh for a while considering how long it took get it done," Perkins said. "The Grand Slam, we''re taking it serious because we take every game serious. It''s going to be fun to play more basketball."
Starkville High coach Greg Carter has often described Perkins'' progression to becoming a Division I talent as nothing short of incredible. He has spoke of a lanky kid who could nothing but dunk when he first got into the program. He said he is proud of Perkins for transitioning from a one-dimensional player to a do-it-all leader.
"If you knew him a few years ago, you would understand just how far he''s come," Carter said. "Leaps and bounds is the best way to describe it. The scary thing is he''s going to get better."
Aside from winning the state title, the Yellow Jackets proved to be one of the state''s most exciting teams. Perkins'' dunks were a huge part of that excitement, as the up-tempo Yellow Jackets ran the court at will this season. Fittingly, the Jackets showcased the same ooh and ahh moments at Big House as they did at The Beehive.
Perkins'' reverse alley-oop from guard Edward Townsel against Meridian sent the 4,000 fans in attendance at the Mississippi Coliseum into a frenzy.
It''s just part of being a Yellow Jacket, Perkins said.
"We take pride in putting on a show for people who come to see us play," Perkins said. "We like to have fun, win or lose. It''s the only way we know how to play."
As his running-mate in the open court, Townsel has been the ignition for the majority of Perkins'' dunks. It makes sense, seeing as the pair have been playing basketball together since the fourth grade.
"Me and Edward just have a chemistry on the court; he knows where I''m going to be and I know where he is at all times," Perkins said. "He''s always been a good player, ever since we were in SAY (Starkville Area Youth Basketball) together. To get the state title with him means a lot."
Dawson commented at 3/9/2010 12:38:00 PM:
We Love Our Jackets!
perkins33 commented at 3/9/2010 2:32:00 PM:
Ima put a show on at grand slam some new so check it out