The fall semester kicked off last month at the La Lumiere School, a college preparatory and boarding high school located about 70 miles outside of Chicago in LaPorte.
And the La Lumiere hoops program, led by coach Alan Huss, welcomed back a solid nucleus of players and a few new faces to a team that lost just one game to an Indiana high school team last winter.
As a non-IHSAA school, La Lumiere was permitted to begin team workouts almost immediately upon the return of its players to campus.
In that month and a half of watching his group work, Huss feels confident one of his prized pupils, Hanner Perea, is beginning to come full circle.
“I think overall he’s just growing up. He’s kind of gone from a boy to a man here in the last couple of years and it’s really come to the forefront this year,” Huss told Inside the Hall recently. “He’s just more mature and a little bit more focused on the task at hand. Whether that be his school work or his basketball and I think it’s starting to show.”
The addition of a pair of 2012 forwards that are also Big Ten bound — Purdue commitments Jay Simpson and Raphael Davis — should aid in pushing Perea in workouts and practice this fall.
La Lumiere’s offense, according to Huss, will seek to play more towards its strong suit this winter — the power forward position.
“I know a lot of people probably thought we should have played through him more last year,” Huss said. “But what I would say is that a year ago, he wasn’t ready for that. His decision making and ability to hold his seal and post up with deep position, it was difficult to play through him. Even just his ability to consistently catch the basketball. Those are all things he’s really improved. We’re doing some things to allow him to face the basket a little bit more than he has in the past. I think he’s bought into that.”
The Colombia native’s elite athleticism has been held in high regard since his arrival in the United States in January 2008, but further skill development could ultimately determine his ceiling.
Perea is still making up ground in his efforts to master the basic fundamentals of the game after picking up a basketball for the first time at age 12.
“He’s learning how to backscreen the wing and then pop and catch, look for his jump shot there,” he said. “In our high-low stuff we’re going to run this year, he’s going to have some opportunities to really flash from the weak side block to the strong side elbow and top of the key and be able make a shot from there or make a one dribble move from there. I think people are going to see an expanded offensive game from him.”
One specific improvement in that expanded offensive game from Perea should be more confidence in his jump shot.
“He can really shoot the basketball. Especially 15-to-19 feet. His thing is just finding and learning ways to hunt those jump shots within the offense,” Huss said. “He’s fixed a fundamental issue he’s had with it when he catches the ball. He always had a tendency to drop it before he went up. He’s really worked hard to make his first motion toward the basket.”
As was the case last winter when La Lumiere traveled to Bloomington South, Indiana fans should have a couple of opportunities to catch the future IU power forward in the central and southern portions of the state.
The Lakers will play two games in Indianapolis this season. The first is against Traders Point Christian on January 26. The team’s second game will be at Lawrence Central on February 4 in a showdown against United Faith Christian Academy, where Perea will face off against fellow IU commit Peter Jurkin. They’ll also take on Montrose Christian, who won the ESPN Rise Invitational last April, on January 28 in Louisville.
“Montrose is probably going to be the No. 1 team in the country,” Huss said. “And I know for a lot of southern Indiana people, Louisville’s not a bad commute. I just figured that would be a good chance for people down there to see him.”
Filed to: Hanner Perea