Welcome to our latest series here on West Coast Convo, the X Factors. We will be taking a look at some unheralded players you might not know about who could be key to their team’s success this coming season. We start with Brandon Perry of the San Diego Toreros.
Perry comes to the Toreros by way of Cal State Northridge. A native of Woodland Hills, Perry was dominant in high school. In his final three seasons at Taft, Perry helped lead the team to a staggering 84-14 record. He averaged a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds per game as a senior as was named to the All-Los Angeles City Boys Team.
At Cal State Northridge, Perry was less utilized but still showed flashes of his potential as a big man. During the 2012-13 season he averaged 6.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in limited minutes, and he was second on the team with 19 blocked shots. Perry sat out the 2013-14 season due to transfer rules after making the move to San Diego.
Jan 18, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Diego Toreros forward Dennis Kramer (40) looks on during the second half of the game against the San Francisco Dons at War Memorial Gymnasium. The San Francisco Dons defeated the San Diego Toreros 64-62. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
His return to action couldn’t come at a more perfect time for the Toreros. With most of their roster returning including four starters, the only major loss San Diego needs to account for is Dennis Kramer. That being said, it’s a major loss. Kramer was an absolute force in the frontcourt for the Toreros putting up 11.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game his senior season.
He was regularly the only big man making offensive contributions for the Toreros, and he was the guy who was often tasked with covering rival big men in the WCC like Przemek Karnowski, Brad Waldow, and Nate Austin. For a small team like the Toreros, having some kind of inside presence is huge. Kramer filled that role admirably his entire USD career.
The in-house options to replace that kind of production are pretty limited. Simi Fajemisin is a towering player, but he is not very quick on his feet and he has done little besides be a solid role player and reserve so far. Jito Kok is a blocking machine and great defensive asset, but his offense has been poor for the most part. He can help make up for Kramer on defense, but not on the offensive end.
Everyone else including the incoming freshman are more scoring forwards than quality big men. They don’t have the build to be the type of players who can bang inside and pull down rebounds and get second chance points. This includes returners like Brett Bailey and newcomers like Cameron Neubauer.
Enter Brandon Perry. When the Toreros acquired him, it’s because they probably envisioned this exact situation of having him become available just as Kramer was graduating. Perry is the guy who is expected to replace Kramer, and he is the only player on the roster built for the task.
Perry is everything you look for in a college big man. He is tall but also large. He casts an intimidating presence, and he is the type of guy that can throw his body around down low. Players with a slighter build will have trouble with Perry’s physicality even if they have a few inches of height on him.
It’s exactly what the Toreros need, and exactly what they have lacked for a long time outside of Kramer. Almost every team in the WCC boasts a quality big man, so having a guy who can compete with them inside is key. No amount of slashing and outside shooting by the guards and forwards can make up for the lack of a good big man. If Perry can live up to his potential and fill this role for the Toreros, it completely changes the team for the better.
How we will handle the WCC remains to be seen. He is moving up a level from playing at Cal State Northridge, but his production has been consistent. His numbers were very good in limited minutes for the Matadors, and he still has the double-double potential he brought from high school. So many times last year the Toreros suffered for lack of rebounds and double-digit scorers, and Perry can provide both. If he can produce at level he is capable of then the Toreros take a giant step forward.