9 Players, 9 Days: Malik Perry

NOTE: The second in a nine-part series on each of the Ball State men's basketball players, exclusively on ballstatesports.com through Nov. 9.

MUNCIE, Ind. -- Adversity is not a new word in the vocabulary of Ball State freshman Malik Perry.

His latest challenge, arthroscopic knee surgery.

"I'm actually ahead of schedule," Perry said. "I will be ready by the first game. I really wanted to start practicing. I even tried to sneak into drills."

For what some may call the undersized Ball State basketball team, Perry's return is great news.

Listed at 6-foot-5 along with Anthony Newell, Perry will be one of the tallest scholarship players on the Ball State men's basketball team.

Perry models his playing style after NBA All-Star and fellow knee surgery victim Amare Stoudemire.

"That's why I wear number one," Perry said. "He has that intensity factor I try to imitate. We are both coming off the same knee surgery and we are both trying to make a comeback."

Perry's knee surgery just adds to the list of struggles the freshman has faced in his young career. Those struggles started when he first picked up a basketball.

"There were a lot of struggles," Perry admits. "I left Roman Catholic High School, one of the top basketball programs in the country. I had a few Division I offers, but there were bumps in the road."

The bumps Perry is referring to come from the same questions asked by recruiters and coaches as to what position he plays.

The versatile athlete has been listed as a guard, a post player, a center and a power forward. So what position does Perry like to play?

"I'll play anything," Perry says with his patented smile. "I'll play in the post or I'll play the swing man. It doesn't matter to me. I like to step outside and shoot, and I like to play the post. I'll play anything as long as it gets me on the court."

Adapting to change is also nothing new for the Ball State freshman from Philadelphia.

Originally committed to play at Iowa, Perry went through the entire recruiting process before finding out Iowa did not accept his transcripts.

"I had to go through the whole recruiting process again," Perry said. "It's almost like a business, and you can't take it personal."

Despite his struggles, Perry is excited about his opportunity with the Cardinals.

"It's almost like a blessing in disguise, because I have a second chance. I'm here now and I'm going to make the best of it. When I came on my visit to BSU, I really fell in love with the team. It felt like a family and felt like home."

Family is a good analogy for this Ball State basketball team. Like in most families, there is usually a big brother who all the others look up to.

That "big brother" for Ball State basketball this year is Peyton Stovall. Stovall is a fifth-year senior and, along with junior veteran Newell, is the unanimous on-court leader.

"He is a great mentor to everybody," Perry says about Stovall. "He, along with my other teammates, have really helped me out a great deal. They've showed me the ropes. They are hard on me and they push me, but that's how it is. On every team you need someone like that, that's why I came here."

For someone who did not start playing basketball until ninth grade, Perry has not stopped impressing others with his play. Likewise, Perry is impressed with new Ball State head coach Billy Taylor.

"If you make a mistake, he is going to tell you about it, not scream at you. He treats us like men. He is preparing us for this season, but I also feel he is preparing us to be men whenever we leave here."

It is easy to see why Perry, among others, is excited about the upcoming season.

"I want to hurry up and play. We are down right now and not too many people are giving us much of a chance. We are mentally tough and we are going to create match up problems for other teams.

"People say we are too small, but we are strong and we are fast. We want to shock a lot of people this year and prove them wrong."

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