Kaden Perry is hard to miss.
At 6-foot-8, the freshman towers over his Battle Ground classmates, and he even stands out on the hardwood with others closer to his size — but not because of his height.
Through his first six games, Perry is averaging a double-double with 13 points and over 15 rebounds a games, including a 20-rebound effort in his first ever high school game.
Throw that in the mix with the roughly two blocks a game he’s averaging and it hasn’t taken long for opposing coaches to take note.
W.F. West head coach Chris White called Perry a “threat” after a 63-48 win over the Tigers last week and talked about how his team needed to be aware of him when he was on the floor.
Prairie head coach Kyle Brooks was quick to compliment the freshman post after a tough rivalry win over Battle Ground two weeks ago.
“He’s going to be a good one,” he said.
While many area coaches knew of Perry, only one might have had a slight grasp of exactly how much speed and power was behind the the Perry Train coming down the tracks this winter.
“His size, his length, his IQ for the game — he knows the game really well — footwork wise he can do almost any move as a freshman,” said Battle Ground head coach Manny Melo.
Melo also noted his on-court demeanor and leadership. When the team isn’t playing well, Perry is quick to offer a word of encouragement to help pick up the pace.
“He has a lot of intangibles as well as skills that are great on the court,” Melo said.
Perry, who moved into the Battle Ground area in first grade, said he’s been playing basketball for as long as he can remember. His dad didn’t begin playing until he was an upperclassman in high school, and he wanted Perry to become something special.
“As long as remember I’ve been playing basketball — running up and down the court, trying to improve,” he said.
And to the likely irritation of other coaching staffs at Battle Ground, Perry only plays basketball.
His offseasons are instead filled with basketball-related training.
“I’m always trying to train. I’ll get some shots up and do skill work when they have open gym — always try to work on my basketball,” he said.
With a 6-foot-4 father and 6-foot-3 mother, Perry said he’s always been tall.
He was 6 feet tall in sixth grade, but although he’s sprouted up 8 inches in less than three years since then, his worst growing pains came prior.
In fifth and sixth grade, his knees were tender to the touch and he couldn’t walk up stairs. But while stairs can be avoided, there was no keeping him off the court. Perry said he got knee bands to help with the pain and never took a break in action.
Players of Perry’s height often get stuck under the hoop and told to rebound and block shots, doing very little ball handling and outside shooting, which negatively impacts the development of their overall game. Melo said the Tiger coaching staff is working to avoid that with Perry, whose outside jumper has seen improvement even from the beginning of this season.
“We’ve got some great shooters on this team and I let these guys go,” he said.
Melo said the goal is to continue developing on the path to success Perry is already on.
“His skill set is phenomenal, but he’s going to have to keep working hard and busting his tail even more,” he said. “People know about him now and want to play as hard as they can against him. He’s up for the challenge and we are as a program.”
Like any aspiring basketball player, Perry said he’d love to one day play in the NBA, but the main focus is landing a division one scholarship to couple basketball with an education. His favorite school is Gonzaga University.