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Soaring Owl

Edenton native a regular starter at Temple

Perry's in his second year at D-I school

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Temple's De'vondre Perry, bottom, is guarded by East Carolina's Jayden Gardner during a game on Jan. 16, 2019. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By David Gough
Sports Writer

Saturday, January 19, 2019

GREENVILLE — De’Vondre Perry made his homecoming to the state of North Carolina as a college basketball player when his Temple Owls played an American Athletic Conference road game against East Carolina Wednesday.

After Temple defeated the Pirates 85-74, a couple dozen supporters — including family, former coaches, friends and current John A. Holmes basketball players — who traveled from the northeast region of the state waited outside the away locker room to catch up with the Edenton native.

The sophomore greeted them all with hugs, handshakes, smiled for several photos and he even signed a poster of his Chowan Middle School basketball roster from 2013.

Perry, who also goes by Dre, later moved to Baltimore before his sophomore year of high school, but he told the Daily Advance that it meant a lot to see those who made the trip from his childhood home to watch him play against ECU.

“It means a lot because that’s where I’m from,” Perry said. “That’s all I knew growing up. So leaving was difficult because I didn’t know anything else.”

One of the many that came to see him play was his former middle school and AAU coach Brian Chappell. Perry and Chappell, now the varsity girls coach at John A. Holmes High School, experienced a lot of success together, going 32-0 in Perry’s time on the Chowan Middle School basketball team and also winning an AAU national championship.

While Chappell said he hated to see a talent like Perry leave Edenton, he knew it was the best thing for Perry’s potential college recruitment. He was proud to watch Perry play from the stands at East Carolina.

“It is great to see any kid get that opportunity to play at the next level, but it feels even better that a kid from Edenton (gets that opportunity),” Chappell said. “It was a joy to coach someone of his talent.”

The 6-foot-7 forward finished with three points, three rebounds, two assists and one block in 16 minutes played on Wednesday. His three points came from a 3-pointer in the midst of an early 21-0 run by the Owls to set them apart from the Pirates.

Perry has been a mainstay in Temple’s starting lineup in all 17 games this season. He’s averaging 4.9 points per game, scoring a season-high 11 points twice this season, and 3.4 rebounds per game for a 14-3 Temple team that is hopeful for an NCAA Tournament bid come March.

He didn’t start in any games as a freshman, but he showed enough coming off the bench to let coach Fran Dunphy put him into the starting rotation as a sophomore.

The 13-year coach of the Owls mentioned that Perry’s presence on the court alone has proved it to be the right move.

“He knows where he’s supposed to be and his teammates at all times,” Dunphy said. “Each and every game, he’s getting better. He made that one three today. I want him to continue to shoot because I think that’s going to be a key thing for us as we go down the stretch.”

“It feels great,” Perry added. “Being a sophomore starting, it means a lot. It means coach has a lot of trust in me. It means that he feels I’ll do the right thing out there.”

Before playing at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in his final three years of high school, Perry was a late addition to Edenton’s varsity team as a freshman. He played a significant role in the Aces’ Northeastern Coastal Conference tournament championship victory in 2014.

Once Perry moved to Baltimore and played his high school ball there, he ultimately chose to continue the sport at Temple over other schools like Kansas State and Virginia Tech.

His grandfather being a Temple alum, and being the first one to ever put a basketball in Perry’s hands, had a lot to do with that decision. Even if he passed away before Perry reached kindergarten.

Before he made his commitment, Perry noted that it was a big change just to go from Edenton to Baltimore before sophomore year of high school where he called it going “from the slow to the fast life.”

He said he struggled his sophomore year, but he improved his game the following years attaining “extra grit” and getting to the level of play to reach Division I basketball.

Even more so, Perry acknowledged that it was a faster pace at the college level his freshman year than what he experienced at the high school varsity level in Baltimore.

“The most challenging for me last year when I got to college was the pace,” Perry said. “I learned the game a lot more (my freshman year).”

Perry’s best individual performance of his college career so far was a 15-point effort, thanks to 5-of-7 shooting from three, in a loss at Wichita State late last season.

Perry credits a lot of his growth as a player to associate head coach Aaron McKie. McKie played for Temple in the 1990s and was the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year as a Philadelphia 76er in 2001.

McKie will also be Temple’s new head coach when Dunphy retires from coaching at the end of this season.

“He’s been like a role model to me,” Perry said.” He works me out, helps me off the court and we watch a lot of film together.”

In class, Perry is studying communications. His work ethic in the classroom is something Dunphy expressed he’s admired just as much, if not more than, his play on the court.

“He’s also a fabulous student and I couldn’t be more proud of him in the academic side of things,” Dunphy said.

Perry noted that he’s been going through some slumps this season since he hasn’t scored as consistently lately as he did earlier this year, but he believes he’s starting to get out of them.

With that, he and his teammates have one goal in mind: Get Temple to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years and at the same time, send their coach out with one final tournament appearance.

“It’d be great to send (Dunphy) out with a tournament appearance and hopefully not just get there, but hopefully do damage there,” Perry said.

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