It seems like Kyra Perkins was born to be a basketball star. And for at least the next two years, she’ll continue to do what she does best.
Perkins, coming off a career as a Lady Pioneer where she scored over 1,000 points and led the program to heights not seen in decades, has signed with Walters State Community College to continue playing the sport she has loved her whole life. Friends, family and coaches gathered at Charlie Dalton Gym, the place where Perkins has shined brightest the last two years, to see Perkins sign on the dotted line.
Coaches Anthony Lippe, Perkins’ mentor, and Senators coach Jasmin Coleman both spoke effusively about Perkins on her signing day. Lippe referenced Perkins’ impact on the program during a run of 47 wins over the last two years (the most since the 1970s for the Lady Pioneers) and Coleman compared Perkins’ athleticism – evident since she was running around as a 4-year-old playing basketball – to one of her former players, Dulcy Mendjiadeu. Coleman thinks Perkins is every bit the athlete that Mendijiadeu signed with Walters State and the former Senators phenom just completed her career at South Florida and is projected to be picked in the WNBA draft this year.
“I’m beyond excited for what Kyra can do and accomplish at Walters State. She’s from a smaller town, but she’s a big-time talent,” said Coleman. “She fits into everything Walters State is about. The biggest thing for me when recruiting kids is what they are as people and who their family is. You also have to want to get an education. Kyra checks all the boxes.”
Perkins has been balling as a Lady Pioneer since sixth grade, when she said “she started getting serious about basketball because she enjoyed the competition,” while playing at Warren County Middle School. It didn’t take long for Perkins to break into the varsity lineup as a freshman at WCHS and she was a mainstay in the lineup for her final three seasons.
She began to breakout as an all-tournament performer as a sophomore, then emerged as an all-district player the last two seasons when Warren County pushed into the top 10 in the state. Perkins is best known for her defensive tenacity and unreal athleticism (she’s currently winning races in the 200 meters for WCHS track and holds the school record for the long jump), but she can score it too.
Perkins became the latest Lady Pioneer to break 1,000 points in her career this season, pushing above the lofty mark in a home win over White County. She also had big nights when Warren County beat Stewarts Creek (a top 10 team this year) and was a standout when the Lady Pioneers topped Coffee County to claim a share of the District 6-4A title.
Perkins has been a sought-after prospect since last fall, but didn’t know where she wanted to go until Walters State entered the picture. Once the school from Morristown extended the offer, Perkins didn’t take long to make her decision.
“It’s close to home and coach Coleman is going to push you to be your best. It’s not just basketball, she wants to push you to be your best in anything in life,” said Perkins, who plans to major in sports management or sports broadcasting. “The campus is small, but it’s a really nice school. The basketball community is nice and supporting.”
Perkins is the second Lady Pioneer to sign this year (Mia Hobbs already inked with Freed Hardeman) and the fourth signee in the last four years since Lippe took over. Shelby Smartt, who has a handful of offers, could make it five in the coming weeks.
Lippe may have resigned from the program Monday, but he was still on-hand Thursday to see his star sign with Walters State. It was a great moment for Perkins, one Lippe knew could happen from the moment she step foot in Charlie Dalton Gym.
“This is the ultimate reward. Kyra has worked hard to get to this point and it’s been a goal of hers for a long time. To see her accomplish that is pretty special. It’s special for her family,” said Lippe, who coached Perkins for all four of her years at WCHS. “As a coach, you want to try to prepare kids for the next level and I’ve seen Kyra grow by leaps and bounds. I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Perkins will get to work with Walters State this fall. If all goes well as a Senator, Perkins could look to finish her playing career at another school in two years. One thing is for sure: as long as schools keep giving Perkins the opportunity to play, she’s going to keep putting on uniforms and going to work.