Canyon junior Anthony Regalado has his shot blocked by Saugus' Nathan Perez and Stephen Tampus in a Foothill League match up at Saugus High School. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Saugus boys hoops Nate Perez selected to NCAA College Basketball Academy

Whether it was in the weight room or putting up shots in the gym, Saugus varsity boys basketball sophomore-to-be Nate Perez has been a workhorse, even if it meant waking up before school to put up shots since setting foot on the campus almost a year ago.

“Along with strength and conditioning program he’s made it to all the workouts we have,” said Saugus boys basketball head coach Alfredo Manzano via text message. “He comes in on off days, before and after. All last year he was part of the breakfast club consisting of three other freshmen which came in at 6:30 a.m. to put up shots before class! Needless to say, he’s constantly in the gym.”

The 6-foot-2 shooting guard finished his freshman year averaging 17.2 points per game and shot 37% from 3-point range on his way to winning the 2018-19 Signal Sports Awards co-All-SCV Newcomer of the Year.

It didn’t take long for others to take notice of Perez’s work ethic and undeniable basketball skills that start with his fluid shooting stroke, as he was selected to the inaugural first year of the NCAA College Basketball Academy.

Perez is one of 2,400 rising seniors, juniors and a few sophomores from all over the country to be selected to the youth development camp that gives high-level Division 1 men’s hoops prospects the ability to hone in on their skills and prepare them for the next step.

“He’s caught the eye of many and been at the right places to get the invite,” Manzano said.

There will be four regional sites: the East Regional held at the University of Connecticut, the South Regional (University of Houston), the Midwest Regional (University of Illinois) and the West Regional (Grand Canyon University). To accommodate all the participants, the academy will hold two sessions at each location the first session was from July 22-25 and the second began 25 and lasts until the 28.

The rising sophomore was selected to participate in the second session of the West Regional at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.

Current Fox Sports analyst and former UCLA and most recently St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin will serve as the West Regional commissioner while former Phoenix Suns head coach and former UCLA basketball player Earl Watson will be one of three assistant commissioners.

Current Westmont College head coach John Moore and Orange Coast College head coach Steve Spencer will be the West Regional instructors.

Joining Perez in the second session of the West Regional will be: Bishop Alemany’s Brandon Whitney, Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) and local Valencia resident Brandon Perez along with Heritage Christian’s Dillon DePina amongst the many selections.

“From the beginning of freshman year to now he’s definitely gotten stronger which is helping him finish with contact and be stronger with the ball,” Manzano said. “He’s been in the weight room along with the rest of the guys three days a week since the season ended and it shows.”

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