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Blake Perry Picks Kentucky

He had a variety of Division I offers to consider, but Boyle County's Blake Perry eventually decided playing baseball at the University of Kentucky was by far his best option.

"UK has the best academic support system. Obviously school is the main thing, not baseball. You have to get your education," said Perry. "The UK is also close to home so my family can watch me play. It's also in the Southeastern Conference, and that's the best league to play in."

Perry picked the Wildcats over Louisville, Coastal Carolina, Kansas State, Tennessee Tech, Western Kentucky, Morehead and Murray.

He played two years at Boyle before going to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., after the 2008-2009 basketball season ended. He'll be headed back to IMG Aug. 20 for the full year and attend IMG Academy High School there after spending the summer here pitching for the Morse Mustangs.

He had a 5-2 record with two saves at IMG last season. He averaged over a strikeout per inning with 42 strikeouts in 35 innings.

"I had the opportunity to train with kids from all over the world - Venezuela, Korea, Thailand and Puerto Rico - and several states in the United States," Perry said. "The coaching staff and training facility were both excellent. There are four r of my teammates who have made Division 1 commitments this summer, including Gavin Patton who has also committed to UK. He is an outfielder from West Virginia."

Perry, 17, says his team played a full spring schedule, but was not allowed to compete for a state championship since private schools in Florida are not permitted in state competitions..

"We were ranked sixth in the country at one time. We played well and it was a lot of fun," he said. "I'm looking forward to being there the whole year and learning even more."

He says he learned an immense amount about pitching in a short time at IMG.

"They taught me how to pitch, not just throw. They gave me a lot of instruction on how to take care of my arm, what to do and what not to do," Perry said. "They introduced me to lot of small things to help my pitching.

"It wasn't necessarily about throwing harder, but how to control my emotions and more about how to pitch. They told me when I got tired, that's when I had to focus even more on my mechanics."

Pitch count

He was on a "strict pitch count" last spring to take care of his arm since he didn't arrive at IMG until March.

"They never really turned me loose. Even before I came home for the summer I was still at a 75 pitch limit," Perry said.

He said Danville coach Paul Morse, his summer league coach, helped with the recruiting process and also enhanced his pitching knowledge.

Perry says he can consistently throw in the 86 to 88 mile per hour range and occasionally will top out in the low 90's.

Kentucky coaches liked his 6-5 frame and told him they envisioned him eventually throwing 95 miles per hour.

"They liked my physical profile, live arm, competitiveness and composure," Perry said. "They look at my frame and see someone that can easily add 30 pounds. As I put on weight and get stronger, it should continue to increase my velocity and mound presence. It won't happen over night, but it can if I work hard enough."

Since his family has always had UK football season tickets, Perry says it was "pretty easy" for him to be a Kentucky fan. However, he says he tried not to let that influence his college decision.

"Money is not everything, but the UK made me a good offer that was respectable. I appreciate what they did. As a family, we just decided UK was the best place for me and I know I am making the right decision," he said.

He's planning to enjoy the little time off he has before he returns to Florida. However, he won't have to worry about missing his family when he does return to IMG.

"Both my parents are going with me this year. I have two supportive parents that I really appreciate," he said. "But I will also still have a chance make new friends and be away from home. That could help me a little bit going into freshman year of college.

"I won't be living in the same house with my parents. It's not like I will be completely on my own yet, but it does give me a much better idea about what going to college will be like."

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