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Kaden Perry leaves Gonzaga basketball team due to back injury, pens heartfelt message

Kaden Perry penned a heartfelt message to Gonzaga fans on Tuesday while announcing he’d be stepping away from college basketball as a result of ongoing back injuries.

Perry, who underwent surgery for herniated discs before arriving at Gonzaga in 2021-22, indicated in a social media post that issues stemming from the same injury have now forced him to leave the Bulldogs’ basketball team.

A former four-star forward from Battle Ground, Wash., Perry intends to remain at Gonzaga as a student as he continues to pursue his undergraduate degree in Spokane.

“Hello Zag Nation, I don’t know how to properly say thanks for all the love and support I’ve gotten from all of you, even though I’ve had plenty of bumps in the road trying to get back on the court,” Perry wrote in an Instagram post. “You always made me feel welcome. It’s been my dream ever since the 7th grade to play at Gonzaga and show the world what I could do. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always follow a straight path and I got hurt my senior year at high school.

“I didn’t know, what I thought would be just another injury, would be a back problem that I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life. After much thought and consideration, I’ve realized I am unable to perform at the level needed to be a DI athlete.”

The surgical procedure Perry underwent as a high school senior interrupted his final year at Battle Ground High School and limited his floor time as a freshman at Gonzaga.

Perry appeared in eight games during the 2021-22 season, logging 52 total minutes while averaging 2.3 rebounds. He played a career-high 12 minutes, scoring six points in a nonconference game against Central Michigan.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few told reporters at WCC Media Day last October that Perry had been “pretty much full go” during preseason practices, but the springy 6-foot-9 forward experienced another setback and ultimately missed the entirety of the 2022-23 season.

Perry took the floor for pregame warmups when Gonzaga hosted Tarleton State on Nov. 29, but the sophomore tweaked his back and was helped off the floor by a teammate and athletic trainer.

In early April, Perry hinted that rehabilitation had gone smoothly posting a photo on his Instagram story with the caption, “I’ve never been more motivated to prove people wrong. I’m gonna make sure y’all are able to see me on the court next year.”

Perry was still working out with the Bulldogs as late as June 20. Gonzaga’s official men’s basketball social media accounts posted a photo of the forward throwing down a one-handed dunk during a practice at the Volkar Center.

“I want to thank all my teammates, coaches, friends and family that have supported me through my entire basketball career,” Perry wrote. “This isn’t the way I thought things would go, but I believe God has a plan for everything.”

A handful of former and current Gonzaga teammates left encouraging messages for Perry on the his Instagram post.

“Love you brother,” wrote former Zag wing Julian Strawther. “Keep being you! I got you always.”

“Stay strong KP,” wrote Drew Timme.

“Love you brother,” wrote Ben Gregg.

Chet Holmgren commented on the post with three praying hand emojis and Paolo Banchero, the former No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick who was Perry’s AAU teammate on Seattle Rotary, also replied to the post with a praying hands emoji, a broken heart emoji and the caption “love brother.”

If healthy, Perry would’ve had a chance to carve out a rotation spot in Gonzaga’s frontcourt this season. Without him in the mix, the group will comprise of projected starters Anton Watson and Graham Ike, as well as Gregg, Braden Huff and Jun Seok Yeo.