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Hempfield star Perry switches commitments

Hempfield High School basketball player Nate Perry has experienced two periods of upheaval recently in his life — one that was hoisted upon him by others, another that he chose willingly.

He believes both will turn out well.

Perry, who ranked third in the WPIAL in scoring (25.7 ppg.) last season, said Saturday he has de-committed from Coastal Carolina, a Division I school in the Big South Conference, and made a new commitment to Appalachian State, a Division I school in the Southern Conference.

Perry, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound guard, said he plans to sign his national letter of intent with Appalachian State during the NCAA's early signing period in November. He was recruited to both schools by Appalachian State assistant coach Jamie Kachmarik, who spent the past six seasons at Coastal Carolina.

"I had no intentions of leaving Coastal, but coach Kachmarik called me and said, 'Let's take a visit.'"

At Appalachian State, Perry will play for coach Buzz Peterson, who has been the director of player personnel for the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats the past two seasons.

Peterson, who was Michael Jordan's roommate at North Carolina, where they won the 1982 national championship, has an 11-year record of 201-134 at four schools. He previously coached at Appalachian State (1997-2000), Tulsa (2001), Tennessee (2002-05) and Coastal Carolina (2006-07).

"Coach Buzz is the real deal," Perry said.

He added that, after committing to Coastal Carolina in late April, he found out the school has five guards in the upcoming sophomore class.

"I am the only two-guard coming in at Appalachian," Perry said. "If I keep working hard, I can be the two-guard there and have a chance to start all four years. This is a better opportunity."

Perry said he doesn't mind leaving the sun and surf of Coastal Carolina, located in Conway, S.C., just outside of Myrtle Beach, for a more rugged climate in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northwestern North Carolina.

"It's not Myrtle Beach," he said. "It snows a lot, so you better like snow, but I'm going there to play basketball."

Meanwhile, there is the matter of the basketball team at Hempfield, which last week hired Jim Nesser, formerly of Jeannette, as its new coach.

Perry said he sees one difference between Nesser and former coach Bill Swan.

"Like coach Swan, (coach Nesser) wants to play defense and rebound," Perry said. "But we are going to push the ball (on offense) this year. He said I will face boxes (trapping defenses) this season, but we are going to open the court, and if we get it and go, (opponents) will have a tougher time setting up their defense.

"If we can keep working, we can do big things."

Perry, who has scored 1,126 points in three seasons as a starter at Hempfield, is one of four rising seniors who started last season, joining R.J. Thomas, Pat Parisi and Dan Cognetti.

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