UW’s Perkins learns to master life, basketball

  • BOB CONDOTTA / The News Tribune
  • Friday, December 15, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

By BOB CONDOTTA

The News Tribune

Like many college students during finals week, University of Washington senior forward Will Perkins has had a lot of all-nighters lately.

His, though, have had a little different spin than most of his classmates.

As Perkins explains, his 16-month old daughter, Jada, has been teething the past few days “and waking up and crying a lot at night.”

There’s no sense of exasperation in Perkins’ voice as he talks. Just pride in how his daughter is growing and how he is growing with her.

“It’s forced me to mature,” Perkins said of getting married and starting a family shortly before arriving at the UW in the fall of 1999. “It’s forced me to be a more responsible person. I’m responsible not only for myself but also for her and for the type of person she is going to grow up to be, and that’s important to me.”

As important, he says, as anything he is doing on the basketball court where he has emerged as Washington’s leading scorer (14.8 points per game) and rebounder (9.0) in his second year after transferring from Iowa Western Community College.

Basketball, though, isn’t unimportant to Perkins as it was the thing that often afforded him some solace during an often trying road to manhood in Omaha, Neb. Perkins never knew his father and his mother, Darnesha Clark, has been in trouble with the law several times. She is currently finishing a 5-7 year jail term for premeditated assault in York, Neb.

Perkins said when times grew the toughest, he often turned to basketball.

“Whenever I was playing basketball, I was always having fun,” he said. “That was my way to get away from everything in life.”

It was on the court where he made a friend, Joe Chambers, who invited Perkins to live with him and his family – his father, Ward Chambers, is a cardiologist in Omaha – on a 700-acre ranch outside of town. But only on the condition that Perkins follow the rules of the household.

“I learned a lot of things from them as far as the things that a man should do,” Perkins said. “Growing up with a woman sometimes can’t teach you a lot of the things that a man can. When you’re 17 years old, it’s hard to get rid of all of your bad habits. But I learned a lot from Ward.”

Among those lessons was figuring out what basketball could do for his future. Perkins hadn’t always been a great basketball player. In fact, he was cut from his eighth-grade team at a time when he was about a foot shorter than the 6 feet 8 inches he currently stands.

But Perkins grew quickly while in high school and by his sophomore year he was already a budding star at Omaha South High. He hadn’t paid as much attention to academics early in his high school career, however, which forced him to attend Iowa Western JC, roughly 20 minutes from downtown Omaha.

It was there, during his freshman year, that he met his future wife, Terenza, who played on the women’s team. The two were married in the summer of 1999.

By then, Perkins was already on his way to Washington, deciding to use his basketball skills to see another part of the country.

Last year, though, turned into a bigger adjustment than he thought. He struggled with the rigors of big-time college athletics being used mostly off the bench at the end of the season, though he still ranked as the team’s leading rebounder (5.9 per game).

Perkins stayed in Seattle over the summer, with his wife working to support the family, and said he worked on regaining confidence in his game.

So far, so good. Through six games, Perkins has four double-doubles, meaning he reached double figures in points and rebounds, something no Husky accomplished even once last season.

UW head coach Bob Bender said he now considers Perkins the team’s main go-to player, adding that the team needs to begin running more plays for Perkins beginning with tonight’s game at Florida International in Miami.

“We’ve got to get him the ball,” Bender said.

This season, though, could be it for Perkins and basketball. He’s not sure he wants to go overseas or trudge through the minor leagues, which would either force him to uproot his family at a moment’s notice or be away from them.

Instead, he’s on track to graduate this spring in sociology. His far-out dream isn’t the NBA, but law school.

“It hasn’t been the easiest path for him but he has never allowed it to be a negative or wanted people to feel sorry for him,” Bender said. “He’s handled everything with such an air of responsibility. He knows there’s a lot of people depending on him.”

That includes his mother, who could be released from prison in February, which might allow her to see her son play college basketball for the first time.

Until then, having Jada in the stands is enough.

“She cheers for me and claps even though I don’t think she really knows what’s going on,” Perkins said. “When I come home, she gives me a big hug, and that’s kind of nice.”

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Sports

Lake Stevens High School graduate Taylor Roe competes for Oklahoma State University at the 2024 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on June 8 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State University)
Taylor Roe competes at the Olympic trials this weekend

Now that the Lake Stevens H.S. graduate’s decorated college running career is done, the pro ranks are next.

Jean-Luc Baker leads advanced students through a warmup during the Seattle Skating Club 2024 Your True Step figure skating seminar on Saturday, June 15, 2024, at Olympic View Arena in Mountlake Terrace, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Patterson: What’s next for local Olympian Jean-Luc Baker?

The Edmonds ice dancer brought Olympic gold medalist Nathan Chen to town with Your True Step.

Soccer legends to be part of local Copa America watch party

Pete Fewing, Marcus Hahnemann will be on hand at Angel of the Winds Arena for next Thursday’s U.S. game.

Mukilteo’s Beard places second in hammer at U20 nationals

The King’s High School sophomore has a chance to represent the U.S. at U20 worlds.

Sounders complete purchase of NWSL’s Seattle Reign

Now both of Seattle’s pro soccer teams are under the umbrella of one ownership group.

Logan Gilbert of the Seattle Mariners throws a pitch during the second inning against the Texas Rangers at T-Mobile Park on June 16, 2024, in Seattle, Washington. (Alika Jenner / Getty Images)
Mariners week: Gilbert’s brilliance lifts Seattle to sweep

Seattle’s 8 1/2-game lead in the AL West is its largest since the 2001 season.

AquaSox week in review: Mariners’ Polanco does rehab stint

Everett wins five of six on the road against Eugene; Schreck and Garcia have big weeks.

Women’s PGA Championship offers fans chance to watch and learn

The women’s golf major tournament comes to Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish beginning Thursday.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba catches the game-winning touchdown pass as Eagles cornerback James Bradberry defends in the fourth quarter on Dec. 18. (Yong Kim / Tribune News Service)
Seahawks look to fully unlock Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s potential

Seattle is expecting good things from the receiver, who was taken 20th overall in the 2023 draft.

Glacier Peak’s Nicholas Miller. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
2024 All-Wesco boys soccer teams

Here are the 2024 All-Wesco boys soccer teams. Teams are chosen by… Continue reading

Kamiak’s Synclair Mawudeku (2) pitches during a 4A softball game between Kamiak and Jackson at Kamiak High School on Tuesday, April 9, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. Jackson won, 9-0. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
The Herald’s 2024 All-Area softball team

Editor’s note: The Player of the Year and All-Area teams were chosen… Continue reading

Jackson senior and UNLV commit Yanina Sherwood is The Herald’s 2024 Softball Player of the Year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
2024 Softball Player of the Year: Jackson’s Yanina Sherwood

With both her arm and bat, Sherwood led the Timberwolves to their second-straight state title.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.