Reggie Perry was hoping the Nets would take him on Draft Night. The Mississippi State center saw all the opportunities presented by Brooklyn, with its established roster, playoff chances and superstars, but there was one problem: his 2019 workout at HSS Training Center was one of his worst, he told the Talkin’ Nets podcast Wednesday night.
“This is one of the teams I actually wanted to come to because I knew they were headed in the right direction,” Perry told Hudson Flynn and Keith McPherson of Talkin’ Nets. “I knew I’d have an opportunity for growth on the court, opportunity to learn from vets and also an opportunity to have a chance to make run in the playoffs. That’s why I definitely wanted to come here because of the team they already have set up.”
But then there was the issue of his workout. After a solid but not spectacular freshman year at Mississippi State in 2019, he made the rounds of NBA workouts before dropping out. Among them was a trip to Brooklyn.
“I didn’t even expect New York to even draft me,” he laughed. “I came here and worked out last year. I probably had one of the worst workouts of my life. I never thought in the world that Brooklyn would draft me. I mean Sean Marks and those guys do a great job of continuing to track guys.”
Indeed, in his Draft Night interview, Marks didn’t talk about that workout, but instead indicated the team had paid close attention to Perry and liked what they saw in him.
“We enjoyed watching Reggie this last year at college and I think he brings a different facet,” Marks said Friday talking to the media. “He is a big man out there with a forceful nature and step out on the floor as well as play in the post but we had him much higher on our board. I look forward to seeing him develop, I look forward to seeing him in camp, and going from there.”
There was another, more personal reason for Perry to want Brooklyn. He may have grown up in Thomasville, Georgia, but his father’s family is from New York and he even has relatives in Brooklyn.
“So my Dad’s from Harlem,” noted the 6’10” big. “He grew up here his entire life all the way up to when he went to Mississippi State. He actually game back, I think, and coached at LIU for a while. So I have a lot of family here. I have two uncles here. I have of two of my uncles who stay here in Brooklyn. I have two cousins who stay here. I definitely have ties up here. So I’m straight.”
The family was gathered in Starkville, Mississippi, the night of the Draft and got the call from Marks at No. 55, the Nets original pick in the Draft. He was taken two picks later, part of the big, three-team deal with the Clippers and Pistons that also brought Landry Shamet and Bruce Brown to Brooklyn.
Since arriving, Perry said, he’s been thrilled with the way he’s been treated, even if he was a bit “star stuck” when meeting Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
“Both KD and Kyrie are great people,” he told Talkin’ Nets. “They’re cool people to be around, you know what I’m saying. When I first met them, I was like star struck but they gave me the vibe, ‘Hey, I’m just a hooper.’ You know what I’m saying. They’re all great people, good leaders and stuff like that, cool to be around. But for me, It was nice to meet them. Our relationships are pretty good.”
Overall, he said the Nets locker room has great to him and for him.
“The locker room has great vibes. the staff has great vibes. The entire locker room they’re all good people. Great personalities and stuff like that. Everybody’s really nice around the facility,” he added.
Perry did acknowledge that DeAndre Jordan has been referring to him as “Rook” rather than “Reggie.” It’s a nickname he said he will probably keep till keep till the end of this year.
As for his first NBA action, Perry said he was “a bit nervous” — and surprised — Sunday when he got the call to enter his first NBA game.
“I was sitting on the bench next to TLC (Timothe’ Luwawu-Cabarrot) and I said, ‘I’m nervous. you remember your first bucket.’ Then it was a timeout when I actually checked into the game. One of the coaches came up to me —he’s always messing around with me — and he said, ‘you’re going in’ and I thought he was playing, you know what I’m saying. I said, ‘yeah, whatever’ and then Coach Nash came up to me and said, ‘you’re going in.’ I was just thrown into the fire real fast. I wasn’t expecting to go in that early, you understand. After my first shot went down, all my nerves went away.”
While in camp, Perry said he’s been working on his outside shooting. Last season at Mississippi State, he shot 32.4 percent from deep and he wants to develop that skill going forward.
“(Shooting ) is a game that I’ve definitely worked on since high school. I like to have that package in my game,” noting that it’s something he sees a lot of his teammates working on. “Just seeing how hard they work every day to be able to shoot the ball the way they do. It’s really helped me out a lot.”
Asked what Nets fans can expect from him once the season starts, Perry talked more about work ethic.
“I’ll always bring hard work every single time. Playing hard every single night on the court, giving my all the time. Skill wise, you’ve got to tune in and see,” he said, smiling. “You never know what you’re going to get. Off the court, you’re going to see someone who’s going to be in the community a lot helping out, being a great leader.”
So far, he said, he’s trying to familiarize himself with Brooklyn and New York within the bounds of the NBA’s COVID restrictions.
“I’ve been adjusting pretty well,” he said. “Biggest adjustment is getting used to this weather. This weather’s crazy like I said. These last couple of days have been really cold but I’ve been loving every second of it.”
So far, he said he’s been walking “everywhere” and admitted he hasn’t “tried out” the New York City subway system.
As for his next preseason game at Boston’s TD Garden, Perry said he likes the idea of playing in “an historic gym.”
“Yeah, I’m looking forward to all the games that we have. Another great opportunity in preseason. Another opportunity to show what you can do, gaining the coaches’ trust. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”