MORAGA, Calif. (KTVU) - At first glance they’re just a couple of Jocks from Down Under. Jock Landale and Jock Perry – proud members of the vaunted Saint Mary’s Australian pipeline.
“I just love the culture here,” says Perry. “There's just so many Aussies it's like a home away from home.”
But their paths to Moraga are unique – even by St. Mary’s standards. The two Jocks were first acquainted in their actual home, as teenagers back in Melbourne.
“We played against each other once,” Perry remembers. “My team got upset win against him, so a bit of bragging rights there.”
Landale echoes the recollection.
“He actually kicked my a** really badly.”
To say Landale came from meager basketball beginnings is an understatement. His high schoo didn’t even have a team. As part of the curriculum, Jock spent his entire 9th grade year sequestered in a remote mountainous area – Crocodile Dundee style.
“It was a battle, to be honest,” he says. “We're off in the mountains doing wilderness stuff you probably think is typical Australian lifestyle but it's not. We’d chop wood, heat our own water, hike for six days, crazy stuff like that. I didn't even touch a basketball for that year.”
And yet, here he is. A dominant college player, and one of the top big men in the nation.
“It's unbelievable,” remarks Gaels’ head coach Randy Bennett. “He's grown a lot from last year and he had a heck of a year last year. I don't know that there's any better there than he is.”
Perry’s path to Moraga is even more unlikely. The amazing thing here isn't that he's 7-foot-1; it's why he's 7-1.
“Judging from my family I might've been a smidge over 6 foot, but nothing like 7 foot 1,” he says. “I was over 210 centimeters and I kept on growing at the same rate, so the doctors gave me a simple blood test, then I got rushed off to get an MRI scan of my brain. They found a small tumor on the pituitary gland, which controls the hormones. From there I got rushed into surgery. Obviously it was daunting at the time it's brain surgery, you never think that's gonna happen to you. It was a bad thing also a blessing in disguise. Wouldn't have these great opportunities basketball has given me without it.”
“He's had a tough road. But he's handled it. And wishes he was playing more right now. But his day is coming.”
Oh, it’s coming. Most likely, next season. With one Jock graduating in May, the other is poised to take over a frontline role for the Gaels. In the meantime, the two longtime mates are enjoying their time together in this home away from home.
“I've tried to – I wouldn't say take him under my wing,” says Landale. “We do help each other out at practice, we have our moments we work together quite a bit, try to share knowledge.”
“To go against someone who is such a talented big every day that's really helped my game, made me better,” adds Perry. “I think I've got a lot of work. That's definitely my goal. Get myself as good a player as I can be. If I could follow in Jock Landale’s footsteps I'd be pretty lucky, yeah.”