Iowa men’s basketball guard Tony Perkins confident ahead of junior season

The Indianapolis native started the Hawkeyes’ final 15 games as a sophomore and is ready to step up this year.


Gabby Drees

Iowa men’s basketball point guard Tony Perkins responds to a question during day one of Big Ten Media Days at Target Center in Minneapolis on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. This year marks the first year of the Target Center hosting Big Ten Media Days. Perkins said “neither” when asked about which Murray brother he liked best.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

Tony Perkins was smiling for what seemed like the entirety of his media availability session during Iowa Men’s Basketball Media Day on Oct. 5. And he had good reason.

The junior guard started the Hawkeyes’ final 15 games last season, including all four Big Ten Tournament games in his native Indianapolis, and he’s expecting to begin the 2022 season as a starter in the Iowa backcourt.

Perkins, who scored in the double digits five times over the Hawkeyes’ final 15 contests last season, was one of three players head coach Fran McCaffery mentioned could make the jump to All-Big Ten level this season.

“He’s absolutely fearless,” Fran McCaffery said. “He was like that in high school. He had as good a high school senior year as anybody I’ve ever recruited. Nobody saw it [because of COVID-19 regulations], but that kid’s a gamer. I’d go to war with him any day.”

Perkins was inserted into the starting lineup in 2021 after now-graduated Jordan Bohannon moved from shooting guard to point guard and Joe Toussiant, who has now transferred to West Virginia, retreated to the bench.

Fran McCaffery said Perkins knew he needed to step up, and he took the challenge head-on.

“We made a decision to put [Bohannon] back at the point … slide Tony into that two spot, and he was absolutely terrific,” Fran said. “I think he understood that we needed to make that change and he needed to be a guy that was involved in stepping up and helping take our team to the next level, which is exactly what he did.”

Perkins said the new starting role came with an increased sense of confidence, especially playing with familiar faces in the crowd as he led Iowa to its first Big Ten Tournament title since 2006.

“It was very big [for my confidence],” Perkins said of the Big Ten Tournament. “I had my mom, my dad, everybody there just watching, cheering me on. Seeing them cheering me on and being at home and having my friends watch me, playing in front of a lot of people I know just felt good.”

Although Perkins’ confidence grew as he played a pivotal role in the Hawkeyes’ conference championship run, teammate Patrick McCaffery said confidence is not something Perkins lacks, whether it be on the basketball court or the football field.

“He thinks he can play quarterback, he thinks he can play receiver, he thinks he could play safety for Iowa,” Patrick McCaffery said of Perkins. “He thinks he can do all that, and he didn’t even play high school football.

“I think that’s what makes Tony good is that he just has this unwavering, irrational confidence. And I always really respect that about him … It’s something that’s really cool, and I’m glad he is that way. And I’m glad he’s on my team.”

Following a stellar postseason and a productive summer, Perkins answered questions about potentially making the All-Big Ten team in 2022 with the same unwavering confidence Patrick McCaffery mentioned.

On the hardwood, Perkins said he prides himself on energy and toughness and noted he has worked hard on his offensive game in anticipation of a larger role this season.

In his 15 starts, Perkins shot 50 percent or above inside the arc on seven occasions. He began his starting stint with four consecutive games of under five two-point shot attempts, but Perkins hoisted five or more in the season’s final 11 games.

This season, Perkins’ goals seem pretty are simple.

“I’m going to continue to be me,” Perkins said. “Continue to play the way I’ve been playing, but I’ve been working on certain things that make me a better scorer, better offensive player, better defender. All around, rebounding, passing, shooting, dunking, whatever … You’ve seen the confidence towards the end of the season last year, so just bring that more toward more minutes, different position-wise, or whatever.”

Fran McCaffery said Perkins will see time at both guard spots this season.

Perkins does not think he can make the jump into the conversation for all-conference honors — he knows he can.

“The way I’ve been playing, the energy, toughness, the way I’ve been bringing everything from all three levels of the court and on defense, I just know,” Perkins said. “I don’t think. I know what it’s going to be this year.”