CICERO – After a game at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament this year, a Division I assistant coach went up to Weisner Perez to introduce himself and show interest as a recruiter.
“We’d like to have you come to our campus,” the coach said. “How are your grades?”
“They’re good, I’m top five in my class,” Weisner said subtly like it was no big deal.
The coach lit up.
“Oh yeah, we’d really like to have you visit our campus,” he said excitedly.
That’s what makes Perez so special. The Morton junior forward has the skill set to earn an athletic scholarship from a Division I program and the grades to earn academic scholarships if he never stepped foot on a basketball court.
Perez’s combination of athletic talent, practiced skill, work ethic and intelligence made him one of the best players in the area and should make him one of the best players in the state next year. For his impressive season with Morton, Perez is the Suburban Life boys basketball all-area team MVP.
Initially, Morton coach Tony Martinucci knew that Perez would be good when he was in junior high, but still had trouble finding Perez a good AAU program to play with. He convinced Illinois Wolves coach Mike Mullins to take him in.
“Mike did me a favor when very few other guys would take Weisner,” Martinucci said. “Mike took a shot for me and for him, and Mike really helped him improve. You also have to want it for yourself. Weisner wanted it for himself. He’s running up and down that football stadium every day. He’s in the gym every day.”
After his freshman year the Morton coaches told Perez, who is 6-foot-7, to work on his right hand moves in the post. He did that. After his sophomore year he knew he needed to improve his jump shot. He did that. Now colleges are telling him to improve his ballhandling so he can play small forward in college. Everything in his history says he will do that, too.
“Most of the schools recruiting me are recruiting me as a three or four in and out player,” Perez said. “I can play in and I can shoot jumpers so from there now I’m going to add more of a dribbling arsenal to my game. Hopefully that will get me to the next level.
“I felt like I had a great improvement from my sophomore year. I’m a lot more comfortable shooting it and bringing up the ball.”
His older brothers, Wilber and Waller, both went through Morton as well. The family has left its mark on Martinucci.
“More so than basketball, you can’t comment enough on what a great family they are,” Martinucci said. “The whole family is first class.”
As Perez enters the offseason to prepare for his senior year, he is expecting big things. Perez said he hopes to make another deep playoff run to match or surpass this year’s sectional final appearance. He also has a chance to become Morton’s all-time leading scorer.
“He has nothing but upside ahead of him,” Martinucci said. “I think talent-wise the sky is the limit.
“A wonderful aura about him. He’s almost always smiling. I thought that was the best thing about him.”