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Jackets' Perkins will play in Florida

 

David Miller

 

There are plenty of questions surrounding the status of Rashad Perkins. 

 

But Chipola College (Fla.) men''s basketball coach Jake Headrick is certain about one thing. 

 

The first-year Chipola coach confirmed Monday night that Perkins, The Commercial Dispatch Large Schools Boys Basketball Player of the Year, Mississippi''s Mr. Basketball, and Southern Mississippi signee will play for the junior college for the 2010-11 school year. 

 

Perkins left Starkville High School last week, and Chipola Athletic Director Dr. Dale O''Daniel said Monday the Yellow Jackets standout signed a National Letter of Intent for the completion of the spring term and summer term. O''Daniel said he "expected" Perkins to sign a LOI in the fall. 

 

After signing with Southern Miss in November, Perkins acknowledged he still had work to do to qualify academically. However, he never said whether he needed to gain a higher ACT score, raise his grade-point average, and/or earn all of his high school credits. 

 

Southern Miss'' link to Chipola is clear. USM assistant coach Greg Heiar was coach at Chipola for six seasons and was named Panhandle Conference Championship Coach of the Year the past five years after winning the league in each of those seasons.  

 

Heiar was instrumental in USM signing former Chipola players Gary Flowers and Torye Pelham following the 2008-09 season, his last as head coach at Chipola. 

 

Messages left for Heiar and USM coach Larry Eustachy on Monday weren''t returned. 

 

While O''Daniel confirmed Perkins'' enrollment, he wasn''t sure why Perkins left Starkville High last week and came to Chipola.  

 

"My guess is that he''s here to complete his GED work, but that''s my guess," O''Daniel said. 

 

Headrick declined to comment what curriculum Perkins is working on, but insisted the 6-foot-5 forward would play at Chipola next season. 

 

First reported by the Clarion-Ledger last week, Perkins'' move made news when Starkville High coach Greg Carter said his star forward was at Chipola to finish high school academic requirements. The report also stated Perkins was "expected to sit out his first season (at Southern Miss)." 

 

Early last week, Carter thought Perkins was just "going out of town" until later speaking briefly with his senior about the move.  

 

Starkville High Athletic Director Bill Lee was unaware of Perkins'' decision, though, as was incoming AD Stan Miller.  

 

Perkins'' absence from Starkville High coincides with state-wide testing being conducted this week. 

 

Starkville High Principal Keith Fennell said Perkins had not officially withdrawn from school and was still a student at Starkville High. He said he hadn''t been notified if Perkins was on a modified plan to earn a diploma from the high school.  

 

"I don''t have a modified diploma benchmark or expectation I''m familiar with," Fennell said. 

 

If Perkins had graduated from Starkville High, he could have gone the prep school route and retained a year of college eligibility. Instead, it appears he will spend his freshman season, and perhaps his sophomore year, playing for Chipola. 

 

It is unclear what Perkins will need to complete to enroll at Southern Miss by his sophomore year. 

 

For the third-straight year, Starkville has had a Division I recruit leave school early to complete GED requirements or to pursue a high school diploma elsewhere. 

 

Latavious Williams, who is playing for the NBA Development League''s Tulsa 66ers, left Starkville High in the spring of 2008 to attend Christian Life Academy in Humble, Texas, and Chris Brand left the team last season and earned his GED through a program at East Mississippi Community College, where he is a forward for Mike White''s Lions.

 

 

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