Pera Excited About New Position, New Season

After being one of the most successful prep coaches in recent California and Pennsylvania history, Scott Pera was ready for the next level. He understood that he needed to pay his dues, which is why he accepted the Director of Basketball Operations position at ASU. The wait to become an assistant college coach was just a year long, as Pera was appointed to replace the departing Archie Miller.

Pera, a Penn State graduate, led his prep teams in both California and Pennsylvania to seven league championships, two CIF Southern Section Division III championships, three 30-win seasons, a 102-9 record in home games and a 38-12 mark in the playoffs. With his vast success at the high school level, it's only natural that Pera wanted to make the transition to college coaching.

"It obviously feels great to have an opportunity to get back on the floor, and get on the road recruiting," said Pera. "It was frustrating at times being off the floor, but you just keep the big picture in mind. I made a decision to be a Director of Basketball Operations at this level, and Coach Sendek was kind enough to offer me the assistant coach job and let me get back to what I love to do."

To say that coaching is in Pera's blood would probably be a gross understatement. While he was part of some of ASU's coaching staff meetings through out the season, his primary duties had to often take precedence. "I had a job to take care of and run things the way Coach Sendek wanted them to run," he explained. "Being that this was the first year for the whole staff at ASU; the Director of Basketball Operations probably had more responsibility than normal, because we were changing a lot of things. Hopefully all the work we did in the first year will make things run smoother in the future."

Not only is Pera excited to work with Coach Sendek who he calls "a brilliant coach who's knowledge is second to none", but he is equally enthused to be on the same staff as Associate Head Coach Mark Phelps, and Assistant Head Coach Dedrique Taylor. "Mark and Dedrique are true professionals, excellent people and great coaches who I think one day will make excellent head coaches themselves," Pera commented. "They're just part of a great situation and a great opportunity for me here at ASU." The Sun Devils' newest assistant coach added that he has enjoyed learning new coaching perspectives during this past season and noted that any coach should be open to new approaches concerning the game.

Pera's biggest high school coaching accomplishment is leading Artesia in Lakewood, Calif., to the state title in 2005-2006 with a 33-1 record. Artesia was ranked second in the nation by Sports Illustrated, sixth by USA Today and earned the top ranking from MaxPreps.com. He was the Los Angeles Times and Long Beach Press Telegram Southern California Coach of the Year in 2006 (as well as 2003). Therefore he is naturally very familiar with his former Artesia players who are now part of the Sun Devil team: incoming freshman and McDonald's All-American James Harden, and sophomore to-be Derek Glasser. "Obviously it's very exciting for all three of us, and it's a blessing the way things played out," said Pera. "Over the years our relationship has become more than just a player-coach one. That's typical when the players are in high school, and now that they're in college and more mature it may be different. But from my aspect, I'm excited to coach all the young guys we have on the team and the new guys coming in."

In his 11 years at Artesia Pera has built a vast network of contacts in the Southern California High School coaching community. Thus, he's very much looking to hit the recruiting trail in arguably the most fertile college basketball recruiting grounds in the country. "The biggest thing I did when my hiring became official was to call all my high school coaching friends that I wasn't allowed to talk to for a year because of NCAA rules," he noted. "I'm very excited by the reception I got and I heard a lot of ‘we're happy to see that one of our own got to where you're at.' They were all very complimentary and I think this will be advantageous for ASU having all these relationships." Pera has also served on the staff of some of the most prestigious AAU tournaments such as the ABCD Camp, Roundball Classic, Double Pump, and Best of Summer Tournament.

This past year Coach Sendek frequently spoke about the tremor of excitement that has been building with Sun Devil basketball fans. With a much-heralded recruiting class, ranked 15th in the nation by Scout.com, that tremor just may turn into a full-blown eruption in the 2007-08 season. The eagerness for what's about to come isn't exclusive to the maroon and gold followers, but also to the ASU coaching staff and its most recent addition. "We wish it (the season) started tomorrow," said Pera. "We went through our growing pains; we had our heads beaten in a little bit…now we want to see where we can go with this. We know we'll be inexperienced, but we also know we're going in the right direction in terms of talent and attitude."

Pera does sees momentum as the biggest challenge the team must overcome as they strive for improvement. "We need to learn how to win, how to compete at a higher level everyday," he explained. "When you have younger guys that's the biggest challenge – learning to compete at a higher level every single day. When that will happen the wins will come, we'll be more competitive in the Pac-10 and put ourselves in a position for post-season play wherever that may be. Coach Sendek was great last year getting the guys to compete and hopefully it will happen sooner rather than later this year."

As Scott Pera has learned, even if the interval is a short-term one, good things can come to those who wait…

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