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Perkins fully invested in his return to SLU

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St. Louis University's Javonte Perkins is working hard to recover from a major knee injury and regain his form that allows him to drive to the basket.

With each day and every bit of rehabilitation and testing Javonte Perkins undergoes, percentages tell the tale of his progress.

Last week Perkins went through a jumping test in which he hopped off of each foot. The goal, he said, was to achieve at least 80% on his healing left leg of what he could do with his right leg. He surpassed the goal with 86%.

Nearly 5½ months have passed since Perkins suffered the torn anterior cruciate ligament that altered St. Louis University’s basketball season. Progress comes slowly, but Perkins has time. Having announced that he will return to SLU for a final season — his sixth at the college level — the high-scoring forward knows he has until early November when the schedule begins.

“I still have to get the muscle back, but it’s not something I’m worried about,” he said. “Right now, I’m on pace. I haven’t been behind as long as I keep doing the work.”

Perkins has been shooting and lifting weights and last week he began running on the court after doing so previously on a treadmill. He placed himself at 50% of his sprinting ability. He does all of the weight training he previously did, but with a smaller amount of weight.

But SLU’s 2020-21 leading scorer is 100% invested in his return to the Billikens after mulling the options in the months following his injury.

He said he relied heavily on his circle of support — mainly his mother and girlfriend — but also sought outside advice from people who have deeper insight into what it takes to reach the NBA.

“It’s all about what you want to do with your life,” Perkins said. “They said if you do the extra year, it won’t hurt you. But if you go out when you’re not ready, it can hurt more than anything. I didn’t know 100% if I was going to be ready.”

Perkins said senior night at Chaifetz Arena had an impact on his return after he talked to a lot of people and heard the response of fans, who chanted for him to return for “one more year.”

He has yet to take advantage of possibilities for name, image and likeness deals but suggested those could come soon. However, there is no evidence that NIL money was pivotal in his decision.

“I’ve got a few in the works but not too much right now,” he said. “I haven’t talked to a lot of people. I’m about to start working on it. A little extra money couldn’t hurt anyone.”

With his decision to return finalized, Perkins can be more methodical with the rehab process instead of trying to rush a result. He has been weight lifting for a while. His work running sprints on the court started last Monday.

He said he starts with a short distance each session and builds, adding that he considers himself at 50% of his sprinting potential.

Perkins can shoot whenever he wants and does so daily. He tries to get 200 shots per day for now, working at various distances around the floor. His estimated accuracy rate without a defender is 80%.

“I have to do therapy also, so I limit myself,” he said of the shooting. “It depends on how I feel. I can shoot these shots all day, but so far nobody is guarding me.”

If Perkins becomes the scorer he was previously, SLU could make a significant jump. National media outlets already have speculated about the Billikens being a potential top 25 team with Perkins healthy.

He averaged 17.1 points in 2020-21 and 15 the previous season. He was a preseason all-Atlantic 10 Conference pick for 2021-22 and a top candidate for conference player of the year before the injury.

Getting back to full speed is something Perkins anticipates without any limitations from the injury.

“I wasn’t an explosive player before the injury, so I don’t think anything is going to get hurt,” he said. “I wasn’t an explosive dunker, so I’ll be all right. It just might take a little minute to get my timing back.”

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