By Noah Perkins
Special to the Reporter
Perrion Callandret learned to shoot at the Rotary Boys & Girls Club on 19th Avenue, just outside of downtown Seattle.
A decade-and-a-half or so later, he’s still trying to fine-tune his jumper.
“The NBA is all about threes,” Callandret said.
At 6-foot-2, he knows he needs to be a better shooter.
“The biggest stepping stone in my career is going to have to be my three-point shot,” Callandret continued. “The NBA isn’t about mid-range anymore. I’m a good ball-handler, I can get to the basket, distribute the ball and play defense. I need to advance my game as a shooter.”
With the Windy City Bulls of the NBA G-League this season, Callandret was one for 12 from three over 28 games at press time.
“A lot of shooting is confidence,” Ron Bollinger, Callandret’s coach at Bothell High School, said. “His first year at Bothell, from the beginning of the season to the end of the season, his shooting improved in every increment. His confidence really rose as he progressed through the program.”
Callandret, 24, is in his first year of pro ball, after spending the entirety of last season out of basketball, rehabbing a knee injury in Chicago. He sustained the injury as a redshirt senior at the University of Idaho in 2018.
“The biggest challenge after sitting out a year is getting accustomed to how the [pro] game is played,” Callandret said. “In that gap year, I pushed myself more than I ever had. I think I am faster and quicker than I was before I got hurt. I know I am stronger. I feel better than I have in a lot of years.”
A Lisfranc injury in his right foot cost him nine games his junior year; a knee injury kept him out of all but two games his senior year; a broken kneecap forced him to miss the end of his redshirt season.
“I think I am built to go through trials and tribulations,” Callandret said.
Spending long hours in the gym isn’t new to him.
“He worked his butt off [at Bothell],” Bollinger remembered.
That work ethic, in large part, comes from the example his mom – Judi Sinclair – set for him and his older brother (Glen Dean, a former pro basketball player in the Czech Republic) as kids. Often, she’d work long, irregular hours at department stores or a grocery chain.
“My mom literally did any job at any hours she could to support my brother and me,” Callandret said. “She sacrificed her free time, relationships, friendships, to make sure her kids were successful. It’s a testament to her that she has two kids that graduated from college, played pro sports and are doing great for themselves.”
“If she could go back, I’d bet she’d say she’d work even harder,”Callandret continued. “She instilled that in my brother and me.”
An NBA paycheck would go a long way for Callandret.
“My mom still works,” he said. “That’s something I don’t want her to have to do that much longer. My brother and I are doing our best to take her out of that situation because she has done so much for us. We want her to finally be able to relax and reap the benefits of her hard work.”
Bothell teammate and current Chicago Bulls high-flyer Zach LaVine has also had an immeasurable impact on Callandret’s hardwood determination.
Friends with LaVine since middle school, Callandret moved in with the LaVine family and transferred to Bothell from O’Dea toward the end of his sophomore year.
The move was prompted by some turbulence at home.
“The LaVines were generous enough to let me move in with them,” Callandret remembered. “Being around Zach and seeing his work ethic and how hard his dad [former NFL player Paul LaVine] pushed him to be great was a huge step for me – it paved the way for me to be where I am now.”
“They became like brothers,” Bollinger said. “They are like brothers today – their bond grew over time; they would fight like brothers. I think it was a positive for both of them.”
In Callandret’s two varsity seasons at Bothell, the Cougars compiled a record of 38-16. Callandret averaged 17 points and more than three assists per game.
“When Zach was a sophomore, teams boxed-and-one’d him a lot,” Bollinger remembered. “Having another athletic kid who could penetrate helped out a lot. [Perrion] was our defensive stopper; Zach could play defense, but as it was described to me when I was a young coach, you don’t want to put your aircraft carrier on their aircraft carrier – Perrion would always take their best player from the beginning of the game.”
Thinking back on high school basketball, it’s his first game junior year that really sticks out in Callandret’s mind.
“It was my first game starting in high school and I was nervous,” Callandret said. “I scored 20-something. Zach and me played well together and that’s where it blossomed. I was kind of looked down on as a basketball player in Seattle – I wasn’t playing at O’Dea. It just let everyone know that I could really play.”
During the offseason, Callandret goes back to Bothell and makes it a point to get shots up in his old high school gym.
“Bothell – not only the school, but the area – was a big part of me growing up,” he said. “It played a big role in me getting to where I am today.”
Looking to the future, Callandret doesn’t know what is going to happen, but he’s seen his hard work rewarded in the past. He’s hoping it happens again.
“From what I’ve been through to where I am now: I feel like God always puts you in a position where you are supposed to be. I don’t feel like He would have brought me this far just to bring me this far,” Callandret said. “I think I am really close [to the NBA]. I think the only person who can stop me is me.”
Noah Perkins formerly covered the NBA for Hoop Japan and has done freelance work for several newspapers.