Two of the highest-achieving basketball players in John A. Logan College history returned to their alma mater Tuesday to get some summer practice time in with current members of the squad.
Jesse Perry, a 6-foot-7 power forward from St. Louis, and Lazeric Jones, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Chicago, were standout performers for the Vols in 2009 and 2010. In fact, Logan won the Great Rivers Athletic Conference championship in 2010 when both were sophomores.
Perry went from Logan to Arizona and was a key component of a strong Wildcats ballclub. Jones transferred to UCLA and was a two-year starter there. The two good friends actually played against one another twice a year as members of the PAC-12 conference. Today, Perry is competing as a professional in Lebanon, while Jones competes professionally in Israel. Both are still holding out hope that they can catch on with an NBA team later this summer or early this fall.
"It's enjoyable to visit my old school and campus and see Coach Smithpeters (Kyle) again," Perry said. "I have a lot of fond memories playing here on this floor. As for now, I'm here to work hard and prepare myself for the next season."
Perry said things worked out well for him overseas last year.
"It was a great experience for me to do my thing as a player over there," he said. "Now with a year of experience under my belt, I know what to expect if I go back this fall."
Although he has plans to enter the real estate field in the years ahead, those plans will have to be placed on hold now, especially when considering the fact that Perry averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds a year ago.
"Things really came together for me by the end of the year. It feels great to say I'm a professional player now. I can make money playing basketball."
Jones feels similarly.
"There's nothing better than getting paid to play the game that I love," he said. "I learned so much last year with the pro team I was on in Israel. It reminded me of my first year at Logan and learning to make adjustments. Overall, I had a pretty decent season, and if things don't work out with the NBA, I wouldn't mind going back for a second year."
Jones said he is a much better all-around player than he was in college and hopes to continue to make strides.
"That's why I'm here today. I'm trying my best to stay in shape and improve my skills as a player."
Jones said he often reflects back upon his days as a Logan player.
"As much as I complained about it at the time, I really love this place and the people here," he said. "It's where I believe I became a man. How can I not reminisce about the good, old days when Jesse and I are back out here playing ball on the same court like we were three and four years ago?"
Page 2 of 2 - Jones has hired a new agent and hopes to try out for an NBA team in the weeks ahead.
"I still feel like the sky's the limit for me."