A confident Tony Perkins is prepared to make an impact for Iowa men's basketball

Iowa men's basketball guard Tony Perkins is big on confidence.

He admits it wavered during his freshman year. Inconsistent playing time played a major factor. He appeared in 24 of 31 possible games and made an impact where he could, but finding an overall rhythm was difficult. There were a handful of games where he logged double-digit minutes. But, in most, he played only single-digit minutes or didn't play at all.  

"Last year it was more a confidence thing," Perkins said this week. "I didn't really play a lot, so I was trying to do the little things: rebounds and getting stops on defense." 

Last season, Iowa was loaded with experienced talent that took up the majority of the minutes and shot opportunities. Perkins knew this upcoming year would present an opportunity to step into a bigger role. 

And he's spent the offseason regaining his confidence and becoming a team leader. 

"I'm really big on confidence," Perkins said. "So if I'm not feeling like this way, I kind of shut down a little bit. But this offseason I've been sitting down and reading more, meditating more and focusing on my mental health.

"Now I'm willing to showcase my game all-around, not just on defense but the offensive end as well." 

Last season, Iowa guard Tony Perkins found a niche on the defensive end. This year, he's hoping to become an all-around contributor.

His emergence as a point-scorer will be a welcomed site to an Iowa team that will have to replace nearly two-thirds of its scoring offense, with the departures of CJ Fredrick, Luka Garza, Jack Nunge and Joe Wieskamp. 

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Perkins attempted only 33 shots last season, converting on 45% of them, and he attempted three 3-pointers, making one. He showed shooting prowess in high school, shooting near 37% from thr-point range during his final two years at Lawrence North in Indianapolis.

One player from last year that he took lessons from was Wieskamp. And Perkins is hoping to add a little Wieskamp to his game this upcoming winter. 

"Just watching him get open," Perkins said. "Taking lessons from him really helped me a lot and is still helping me in watching him now when he works out. Still watching his footwork and what he does to get open because I want to do the same things he does, around screens, get open shots and stuff like that." 

Iowa guard Tony Perkins speaks to reporters during a summer Hawkeyes men's basketball media availability, Tuesday, June 29, 2021, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

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Perkins' highs and lows from freshman year allowed him to grow.  When he didn't play for a particular reason, he would watch film. When he made a mistake in a certain area, he would work on that aspect even more. 

"You can't worry about the things you messed up on," Perkins said. "The game is about runs and you're going to make mistakes, you're going to mess up at times." 

His biggest personal moment came in the final game of the season: Iowa's second-round NCAA Tournament game vs. Oregon. The Hawkeyes lost but Perkins played 13 minutes, his second-highest total of the season, and scored a season-high five points. 

The tournament provided one key element to the game he'd been missing: fans. 

"A big boost in confidence," Perkins said. "I'm more of a crowd person, I like when they scream and yell; that gets my energy up. That was a great moment going through that and going through that phase." 

Fortunately for Perkins and the rest of the Hawkeyes team, fans are expected back at full capacity at Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season. When the season tips off, Perkins' growth as a player will be on full display. 

He has already made a name for himself as a defensive presence. The expectation for himself and the program is for him to step into a bigger role and become an all-around contributor. 

"(I see my role as) a great defender, a leader of course," Perkins said. "A player who can score all around and get people open, get stops on defense and rebounds.

"Just help us win. That's my biggest focus — just help us win." 

Kennington Smith is the new Iowa Hawkeyes beat writer for the Des Moines Register. You can connect with Kennington on Twitter @SkinnyKenny_ or email him at ksmith@gannett.com