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Wednesday, August 5, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Former Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins reflects on first pro season, offers advice for Zag trio in NBA draft

UPDATED: Sat., June 6, 2020

Josh Perkins’ first season of professional basketball was much like his five years at Gonzaga: eventful and interesting.

The Zags’ all-time assists leader had a pair of NBA G League addresses, first with the Greensboro (North Carolina) Swarm before being traded to the Texas Legends. He was with the Legends a few weeks before the season was benched by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was rough in Charlotte, definitely way better out here in Texas,” Perkins said in a phone interview. “I was hurt out in Charlotte and the Hornets had a lot of assignment players, so G League players didn’t get to play as much as we thought.”

Texas was a better situation for Perkins. He only played in four games, and his minutes actually dropped in comparison to Greensboro, but he was more productive.

Perkins averaged 5.8 points, 4 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 12.5 minutes per game. His Swarm stats: 4 points, 2.8 assists, 1.4 boards in 14.5 minutes.

More important, Perkins finally has a clean bill of health. He estimated it’s been six years since he could say that. Perkins battled a recurring shoulder injury at GU before undergoing surgery following his junior season.

His shoulder held up, but he suffered a turf toe injury against Washington that lingered for the rest of his senior season. Former Zags great Kevin Pangos dealt with a similar injury during his junior season.

Perkins played all 40 minutes in an 81-79 win over the visiting Huskies and finished with nine points, six assists (including on Rui Hachimura’s winning jumper) and four rebounds.

“I did it in the UW game and redid it in the Texas Tech game (a 75-69 loss in the Elite Eight),” said Perkins, who rarely discussed injuries with the media during his GU career. “Stayed with me in the predraft and finally got better in the beginning of the G League season.”

Perkins unfortunately was slowed in North Carolina by a PCL injury in his knee. He played in 28 games for the Swarm before the trade. He’s living in McKinney, Texas, not far from the Frisco headquarters of the Legends, a Dallas Mavericks affiliate.

Perkins has been working hard on his conditioning. He runs on a track and has access to a gym and weightlifting equipment. He played in a pick-up game earlier this week, his first game-like action since March.

“I’m definitely in better shape than my whole career,” said Perkins, who plans on playing in The Basketball Tournament (TBT) next month.

Perkins’ first pro season was full of ups and downs.

“It’s all right,” he said. “Coming from Gonzaga, you know staying in nice hotels and having a PJ (private jet), it’s definitely an experience going to the G League.”

Perkins’ former teammates – Corey Kispert, Filip Petrusev and Joel Ayayi – have nearly two months to decide whether to stay in the NBA draft or return to Gonzaga next season.

“It’s different for everybody,” Perkins said. “I would just tell them to enjoy their time there because it (G League) isn’t college.”

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