Perry’s parents tried to avoid their UK bias

Published 3:28 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2023

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Contributing Columnist

Ryan Perry and his wife are both University of Kentucky graduates and have been Kentucky fans their whole lives. However, they made sure they took the middle ground when their son, Lyon County senior Travis Perry, was being recruited.

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“I have a whole closet full of Kentucky clothes that I could not wear the last couple of years. I could not go into events wearing clothes of another team when my son was being recruited by the school where we were,” Perry said.

Travis Perry, the state’s all-time leading boys scorer, picked Kentucky over Cincinnati, Ole Miss, Western Kentucky, Alabama and others in a move that surprised a lot of UK fans and national recruiting analysts.

“It was his decision but it was hard at times,” Ryan Perry, the head coach at Lyon County, said. “Deep down you would love to see your kid play at any school but especially the school you pull for as much as my family does for Kentucky. It was his decision and it was a hard decision because he had such good relations with a lot of other coaches.

“My wife and I wanted to make sure it was Travis’ decision. He had to make sure it was the right place for him but he has a good track record of making good decisions.”

Coach Perry said his son is a “very loyal” person who chose Kentucky because he wants to help the program win.

“He is addicted to winning. That’s all he wants to do. As long as he can impact winning, he is happy,” Ryan Perry said. “Lyon County used to be a little over a .500 program. Now we have been to the last two state tournaments. He played for Indiana Elite (in summer basketball) and went 106-7 in three years. He expects to win and will do what it takes to win.

“He wanted to put that Kentucky jersey on every morning and help the team win. Fans love him because he plays so hard and that’s what he will do at Kentucky.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari was so welcoming to the Perry family after offering the Lyon senior a scholarship and Ryan Perry said that “resonated with us early” and meant a lot to the family.

Calipari didn’t tell Travis Perry he would have to work to earn playing time.

“It’s no secret Kentucky has really good guards every year. That’s what they do at Kentucky,” Ryan Perry said. “You have to try and earn minutes from lottery picks every year. We appreciated coach Cal and the way he was honest the whole time.

“The more Travis heard he should take the easier path and get playing time quicker by not going to Kentucky, the more he felt challenged and he loves a challenge.”

Kentucky freshman Reed Sheppard of North Laurel heard the same thing last year before he signed with Kentucky. He’s been an instant contributor at Kentucky with his 3-point shooting, passing and defense.

“I told Travis that Reed would be an impact player and could definitely play for Kentucky. He’s a guy you cannot keep off the floor. He shoots at a high level and is just a guy that makes everybody around him better,” Ryan Perry said. “If you are trying to win you have got to have guys like that on your team.

“He is having a great freshman year just like I thought he would. He’s a great kid from a great family. They have been supportive of Travis and we have been supportive of Reed. It helped Travis watching games and seeing what Reed was doing. It kind of validated that if you play the right way and make others better it is hard to keep you off the floor.”

Travis Perry is similar to Sheppard in that he is not an emotional player. He doesn’t get overly excited or overly down on the court. He took the same approach to his college choice.

He doesn’t get very excited about a lot of things but we saw a sense of relief when he picked Kentucky and could tell Travis was very relaxed about the decision he made,” the Lyon coach said. “It was like the first time we were in coach Cal’s office. I wanted to jump up and down but Travis was so calm just like he was until he made his decision.”