Persistent back problems became too much to overcome for Gonzaga’s Kaden Perry.
Wednesday, the former Battle Ground High School star penned a heartfelt message announcing he’s stepping away from collegiate basketball.
“It’s been my dream ever since 7th grade to play at Gonzaga and show the world what I can do,” Perry wrote on Instagram. “Unfortunately, life doesn’t always follow a straight path and I got hurt my senior year of high school. I didn’t know, what I thought would be just another injury, would be a back problem that I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life.
“After much thought and consideration, I’ve realized that I am unable to perform at the level needed to be a D1 athlete.”
Perry said that while he won’t be a part of the basketball program, he’ll remain at Gonzaga to earn his degree and “start the next chapter in my life.”
“I want to thank all my teammates, coaches, friends and family that have supported me through my entire basketball career. This isn’t the way I thought things would go, but I believe God has a plan for everything.
“Thanks for all the support you have given me. GO ZAGS!”
A 6-foot-9 forward, Perry was among the state’s top basketball recruits. He led Battle Ground to Class 4A state appearances in 2019 and 2020. As a junior, he averaged 23.7 points, 15.3 rebounds and earned first-team all-state honors.
Despite being an ESPN top-100 recruit, there was no suspense about where Perry would play in college. He made a verbal commitment to join Gonzaga before his junior year.
Perry’s senior season at Battle Ground, already upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, took a bad turn when he injured his back in a game against Prairie on May 7, 2021. Four days later, Battle Ground coach Manny Melo said Perry was likely done for the season.
Perry underwent surgery for herniated discs before arriving at Gonzaga and appeared healthy during preseason workouts ahead of the 2021-22 season.
But Perry suffered a setback, re-injuring his back during a Nov. 29 pregame workout that saw him helped off the court by trainers.
Perry would play in two more games his freshman year before being shut down and undergoing a second surgery.
He appeared in eight games, averaging 6.5 minutes, 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 points. His best game saw him score six points and grab four rebounds against Central Michigan on Nov. 22, 2021.
Before his sophomore season, both Perry and Gonzaga coach Mark Few said he was fully healthy for the 2022-23 season. But Perry suffered another setback and missed the entire season.