With a little help from his friends

Perry consulted a few old friends for advice when he was deciding to redshirt earlier this season

Mickey Perry had a decision to make, a choice that would have a major impact on the course of his college career.

In such situations it helps to be able to turn to friends for advice. Especially when, as in Perry's case, you are a freshman basketball player at the University of Wisconsin and your friends dot the Division I landscape.

Perry is a product of Maywood, Ill. and Proviso East High School, with its renowned basketball program. He was a freshman at East when current Illinois standout Dee Brown, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, was a senior.

As a sophomore, Perry started in the backcourt at the ‘2', alongside current Michigan State star Shannon Brown and Nebraska point guard Charles Richardson. And Perry grew up in basketball as a close friend of Iowa freshman point guard Tony Freeman.

So when Perry was deciding whether he should redshirt at UW this season, he sought out Freeman, Shannon Brown and Dee Brown.

"Shannon, I called him a lot, and I talked to Tony too, just right when it happened," Perry said of his redshirt decision. "… Cause (those) are guys I trust. Not like I don't trust these guys (at Wisconsin) but them guys I know since I was little."

Perry came to Wisconsin intent on playing. He wanted to help the Badgers this year, not sit on the bench while his teammates competed. But after careful contemplation and consultation with his family, UW coach Bo Ryan, and his cadre of Big Ten friends, Perry decided to redshirt.

He was far from elated with his decision, but he recognized that his minutes this season would have been mere table scraps. And though Freeman is playing about 20 minutes a game for Iowa this year, and Dee Brown and Shannon Brown have been key contributors since they arrived in the Big Ten, they all advised Perry to stick it out and use the redshirt year to his advantage.

"I was kind of down," Perry said. "… But they just told me it's not really a bad thing. You don't lose a year. And just to work hard at it and get stronger and just learn the game and what system that you're in."

Perry is at peace with his decision now and has been wreaking havoc as a member of the Badgers' scout team.

"I try to go out there every day in practice (with the attitude), ‘This is my game,' and that's how I take it," Perry said. "I don't want this to be a wasted year. I don't want to come out next year and then say, ‘Well, I could have worked a little harder last year.'"

The Badgers' coaching staff, and Perry's UW teammates, have taken notice.

"He's gotten better, he's adapted, he's becoming a better defender," assistant coach Greg Gard said. "And he's becoming more consistent. I think that's the biggest thing, is just the consistency to perform each possession each day."

Perry is a combo guard with the potential to be a dynamic scorer someday at Wisconsin. An argument can be made that he is already the Badgers' best pure shooter, though he obviously has not proven that in a college game. At present Perry is working on becoming a more complete player while sparring with Badger point guards Kammron Taylor and Michael Flowers in practice.

"Mickey is a great player," Flowers said. "It is unfortunate that he chose to redshirt because he possesses some great talents. I just can't wait until next year, so he can show everybody what is in his repertoire. Mickey redshirting, he is only going to get better that way."

Perry has a unique perspective on college basketball—and several of UW's opponents. Before the Badgers faced Marquette, Perry's scout-team persona was freshman star Jerel McNeal, with whom Perry played on a Chicago all-star team.

Thursday, the Badgers beat Freeman's Hawkeyes 66-52 (Perry impersonated Jeff Horner and Freeman in practice). Sunday, UW will welcome Shannon Brown's Spartans to the Kohl Center.

Even when he is not making a key life decision, Perry keeps in regular contact with Freeman and Shannon Brown.

"I grew up with those guys, playing a lot back at home," Perry said. "Wishing them the best. We all had dreams of getting to this level and we're here now."

Perry just has to be patient and wait for his chance to shine.

"It's just waiting your turn, I guess," Perry said. "And when the opportunity comes just take advantage of it."

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