Josh Perkins’ right shoulder ranks with Przemek Karnowski’s career-threatening back issue and Gary Bell Jr.’s balky knee on Gonzaga’s list of worrisome offseason injuries in recent years.
Perkins, on the mend from shoulder surgery in April, is the Zags’ only true point guard, much like last season, and their most experienced player, with 108 career starts. He’s a career 39 percent shooter from 3-point range. His name is stamped throughout Gonzaga’s record book.
The Zags have been listed in virtually every preseason top 10, but that’s presuming their point guard is healthy.
Perkins’ recovery took another step forward with a positive checkup on Tuesday.
“It went good,” he said. “Things are looking the way they should.”
Perkins, who shoots right-handed, has been cleared to do some light running and increase his activity level. He still wears a sling on occasion, but it’s more for protection from others inadvertently bumping into his arm.
“I had two tears in my shoulder, some floating pieces, a little bit of arthritis,” Perkins said. “They just repaired the labrum and cleaned everything out and patched me up.”
Perkins has encountered two serious injuries in his Gonzaga career. Five games into his true freshman season, a swift kick to the face from a Georgia player at Madison Square Garden left Perkins with a fractured and dislocated jaw. He required a straw to eat for more than a month, dropped a lot of weight and missed the rest of the season.
“I’d have to say the shoulder,” said Perkins, when asked which recovery was worse. “You get used to the non-eating part, but how much pain you’re in the days after (shoulder) surgery, and you can’t sleep lying down. I didn’t know how much you use your arm until you can’t use it.”
Perkins is sleeping better lately, as he’s finally able to use his bed instead of having to snooze in a recliner. Former Zag guard Eric McClellan recently posted a video on social media of Perkins working on his shooting form.
“For the first week it was horrible, I can’t lie,” said Perkins. “Just recently, I started sleeping in my bed again. I’m moving my arm better every day. I’m over at U-District (Physical Therapy), with good people over there.”
Perkins, a two-time West Coast Conference All-Academic selection, averaged a career-high 12.3 points and 5.3 assists last season. His 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio ranked third in the WCC. Gonzaga is 101-15 in Perkins’ 116 career games.
The Zags have been searching for reinforcements at guard this offseason.
Gonzaga, Xavier and Minnesota are finalists for North Dakota graduate transfer Geno Crandall, who is expected to announce his decision on Thursday.
Obviously, Perkins hasn’t been able to do much in the way of conditioning, shooting and skill development.
He hopes that changes moving forward and next month when he returns home to Colorado, where he’s been tutored by former NBA standout Chauncey Billups the past few summers.
“Everything’s on schedule,” Perkins said. “Everything’s going good.”
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