Kansas State head coach Jerome Tang completed his full-time coaching staff on Wednesday afternoon (July 27) with the selection of veteran coach Rodney Perry as the program’s third and final assistant coach. Perry’s first official day will be Monday, August 1.
Perry, a finalist for the 2022 Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Boys Coach of the Year, arrives at K-State after spending the past season building Link Academy in Branson, Mo., into a national powerhouse, as the Lions finished as the national runner-up at the GEICO National Tournament with a 34-2 record.
In addition, Perry recently led the AAU program that he helped found – MOKAN Elite – to their third championship at the prestigious Nike Peach Jam (2016, 2019, 2022) with a 53-52 win over Team Takeover on July 24 to cap a 26-4 season. MOKAN Elite’s three championships are the most by any team in the 26-year history of the signature Nike EYBL (Elite Youth Basketball League) summer event held in North Augusta, S.C.
All told, Perry’s Link Academy (34-2) and MOKAN Elite (26-4) teams went a combined 60-6 during the 2021-22 season.
“I couldn’t be more excited about adding someone of the quality – on and off the basketball court – as Rodney Perry,” said Tang. “Obviously he is a terrific coach and winner, just look at what he was able to do in just one season at Link Academy and his many years working with one of the best grassroots organizations in MOKAN Elite. But he is more than just an elite basketball mind, he fits in so with our staff because of his values and character. I can’t wait for Wildcat Nation to get to know Rodney, his wife, Leslie, and their family!”
Overall, Perry has 28 years of coaching experience with 15 coming on the college level, including six as the head coach at NAIA Avila University in Kansas City from 2010-16. On top of that, he is a co-founder and former head coach of two ultra-successful AAU teams in the Springfield (Mo.) Rockets (1994-2003) and MOKAN Elite (2006-16, 2018-19, 2021-22). In addition to the three Peach Jam titles in the last seven years with MOKAN Elite, he won the 1995 AAU National Championship with the Rockets.
“My family and I are extremely grateful and feel blessed to be joining such an incredible staff and university,” said Perry. “I know the goals that Coach Tang has for the Wildcat family and community, the expectations are extremely high. I am committed to working extremely hard to ensure that these goals are achieved. I’m looking forward to getting started and helping the team get better on and off the floor and getting to know the Wildcat community. EMAW!”
Perry completes the three-man assistant coaching staff for Tang, which includes associate head coach Ulric Maligi and fellow assistant coach Jareem Dowling. He also joins a support staff that includes Chief of Staff Marco Borne, Director of Men’s Basketball Operations Bailey Bachamp, Director of Player Development Austin Carpenter, Director of Video Services Anthony Winchester, Director of Basketball Strategies Kevin Sutton and Strength and Conditioning Coach Phil Baier.
“I couldn’t be more excited about the future of our program with this staff and their families,” said Tang.
Perry has served as a head coach on six different occasions at the professional, college and high school ranks in his career, including Purdy High School (2001-02) in Purdy, Mo., Miller High School (2006-07) in Miller, Mo., the Kansas City Stars ABA Basketball Club (2009-10), Avila University (2010-16), Summit Christian Academy (2018-19) in Broken Arrow, Okla., and Link Academy (2021-22).
Perry has also had a hand in the development of a number of NBA players during his career, most notably Atlanta Hawks superstar Trae Young, Detroit Piston Alec Burks, Denver Nugget Michael Porter, Jr. and Philadelphia 76er Shake Milton as well as 2022 first-round draft picks Ochai Agbaji (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Christian Braun (Denver Nuggets). In all, he counts 10 former players on NBA rosters.
In his one season with Link, Perry nearly made coaching history by leading the first-year program to the GEICO national title before falling to powerhouse Montverde Academy, 60-49, in the championship game on April 2. The Lions opened the season with 26 wins in a row, spending time as the nation’s top-ranked team, before their lone regular-season loss to No. 1 Sunrise Christian, 74-65, at the Heartland Classic in Nebraska.
Link finished the regular season with a 32-1 record before defeating No. 5 Oak Hill, 81-67, and No. 8 Prolific Prep, 60-53, at GEICO Nationals, and setting up the showdown with defending champion Montverde in the championship game. The Lions finished No. 2 in the final ESPN High School Boys Basketball Top 25.
While at Link, Perry coached a pair of McDonald’s All-Americans in Julian Phillips (LSU commit) and Jordan Walsh (Arkansas commit) in 2021-22, while Phillips and Walsh were joined by Tarris Reed (Michigan commit) on the Jordan Brand Classic All-America Team for which Perry was selected as a head coach.
Perry has coached at six universities in his 15-year college coaching career, including Southwest Baptist (2002-03), Duquesne (2003-06), Western Illinois (2007-08), Avila (2010-16), Oral Roberts (2016-18) and Kansas City (2019-21).
Perry’s most recent job in college came during a two-year stint (2019-21) at Kansas City under head coach Billy Donlon. He helped the ‘Roos to their second-highest win total (16) in the last 19 seasons in 2019-20.
Perry was associate head coach at Oral Roberts for Scott Sutton and Paul Mills from 2016-18, where he helped establish the foundation for a Golden Eagle program that advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2020-21. He coached the 2016-17 Summit League Freshman of the Year Emmanuel Nzekwesi as well as the 2017-18 Transfer of the Year Austin Ruder and Sixth Man of the Year Albert Owens. He also played a part in the recruitment of Kevin Obanor, who would be named the league’s Freshman of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year in 2018-19.
From 2010-16, Perry was the head coach at Avila University, a small private NAIA program of 1,500 students in suburban Kansas City. He led the Eagles to 81 victories in six seasons, including the school’s first 20-win campaign in 15 years in 2015-16. He developed a two-time All-American in Sedrick Johnson, who was an NAIA Second Team All-American and the Heart of America Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2015-16. In all, he coached two Defensive Players of the Year (Curtis Churchman, Johnson) and 16 all-conference players.
Perry has served as recruiting coordinator twice at the Division I level, including at Duquesne (2003-06) for head coach Danny Nee and Western Illinois (2007-08) for head coach Derek Thomas. He helped sign Bryant McAllister, who ranks 10th on the Dukes’ all-time scoring list with 1,546 points, while one of his players at WIU – Ceola Clark III – was a two-time Summit League Defensive Player of the Year (2010, 2012) and a First Team All-Summit League selection (2010).
In 2006, Perry helped co-found the MOKAN Elite AAU program, which has been the home to some of the best players in the country. He was part of five trips to the Peach Jam Final Four (2012, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2022), including three championships (2016, 2019, 2022), while assisting in the development of eight NBA players. He was named the 2016 Indihoops National Coach of the Year while with MOKAN.
Perry began his coaching career as an assistant coach in the Missouri high school system in 1994. He coached at Willard and Springfield Central High Schools before landing his first head coaching position at Purdy High School in Purdy, Mo., in 2001-02. He led Purdy to its best record in 10 years before accepting his first college coaching career as an assistant at Division II Southwest Baptist under head coach Jerry Kirksey in 2002-03.
In 1994, Perry started the Springfield (Mo.) Rockets AAU program, earning 1996 AAU Coach of the Year honors after leading the team to the 1995 AAU national championship. In 10 years with Perry, the Rockets developed 26 players who went on to compete at the college level.
Perry also has extensive experience with USA Basketball, serving as a court coach at the 2016 U17 World Cup training camp, 2018 Junior National Team minicamp and the 2019 U19 National Team training camp. He has coached for the USA Men’s West Team at the 2012 Nike Global Challenge and the 2015 Nike Global Challenge.
Perry was the head coach the USA Nike World Challenge Team, which won the gold medal in 2015 and a bronze medal in 2012, while he was an assistant coach on the gold-medal winning 2016 Team USA U17 and 2019 Team USA U16 World Championship teams.
Perry played collegiately at both Arkansas-Fort Smith (1989-91) and Missouri State (1991-93). He helped the Bears to a pair of postseason appearances, including the 1992 NCAA Tournament under legendary head coach Charlie Spoonhour. He served as co-captain for a MSU squad that posted a 20-11 record and advanced to the NIT quarterfinals under head coach Mark Bernsen.
A two-time member of the MVC All-Defensive Team, Perry led the team in steals in each of his two seasons at Missouri State. He was named to the Missouri Valley (MVC) All-Tournament after leading the school to its first and only postseason conference tournament title in 1992.
Perry earned a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Missouri State in 1994.
A native of Fort Smith, Ark., Perry and wife, Leslie, have two sons, Darris and Devrin.
Founder and Head Coach, Springfield Rockets AAU program, 1994-2003
Head Coach, Purdy High School, 2001-02
Assistant Coach, Southwest Baptist, 2002-03
Assistant Coach, Duquesne, 2003-06
Head Coach, Miller High School, 2006-07
Co-Founder and Head Coach, MOKAN Elite, 2006-16; 2018-19; 2021-22
Assistant Coach, Western Illinois, 2007-08
Head Coach, Kansas City Stars ABA Basketball Club, 2009-10
Head Coach, Avila University, 2010-16
Associate Head Coach, Oral Roberts, 2016-18
Head Coach, Summit Christian Academy (Okla.), 2018-19
Assistant Coach, Kansas City, 2019-21
Head Coach, Link Academy (Mo.), 2021-22
Assistant Coach, Kansas State, 2022-present
Arkansas-Fort Smith, 1989-91
Missouri State, 1991-93
Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education, Missouri State, 2002
Hometown: Fort Smith, Ark.
Children: Darris and Devrin