“I was sleeping when it happened. I woke up to 38 missed calls from him,” Manhattan transfer Jose Perez said.
Perez’s head coach Steve Masiello was let go of his duties at Manhattan last Tuesday, Oct. 25. Masiello was calling Perez to let him know what happened.
Perez woke up and called Masiello back, realizing something was up.
“I facetime’d him, I’m not fully awake yet and I see him crying,” the 6-foot-5 guard said. “Then I realized, oh sh*t. This is serious.”
The 24-year-old when down to say goodbye to his mentor as security guards escorted Masiello out of his office.
“It’s been very emotional, I broke down. I saw somebody that took care of me, basically as their son. I had legit tears,” Perez said.
Perez has never been able to settle at a school to call home. Perez started at Gardner-Webb, taking the Runnin’ Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament in 2019. After his second year, Perez entered the transfer portal and move up to play for Steve Wojciechowski at Marquette. Perez played 10 games due to an injury and Wojciechowski was fired at the end of the year. Back to the transfer portal Perez went.
Manhattan was the place where Perez felt like he was home. Perez averaged 18.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists under Masiello. Last week was emotional for Perez, who now needed to find another team to play for with the season just two weeks away.
“It has been coach fired after coach fired. I have no stability,” Perez said. “I have never really had a set home.”
As soon as Perez entered the transfer portal, he became the most prioritized transfer last week. Many programs from all levels were contacting Perez to try to bring him along this season. West Virginia was one of those schools as they reached out that same day.
West Virginia separated itself from the competition by just being honest. Basketball Hall of Fame coach Bob Huggins put a lot of time into recruiting Perez.
“Coach Huggins was calling me 2-3 times per day. Literally right after practice, the exhibition game. Him and coach Jay [Kuntz] did an amazing job recruiting and they gave me their word,” Perez said.
Within five days of being in the portal, Perez committed to West Virginia on Sunday night, choosing them over Georgia Tech, Louisville, Mississippi State, Missouri, North Carolina State and TCU. Perez reflected on his emotional week.
“There was a lot going on,” Perez said. “It was really difficult to take it in because there was just too much going on. My head was all over the place.”
Perez will now start the process of moving to West Virginia and start practicing with the Mountaineers as soon as next week. Perez believes he will be allowed to start playing right after the first semester ends.