In the Georgetown record books, Perry McDonald is the only guard ever to lead the team in rebounding during a single season. While accurate, it's only slightly misleading--anyone who saw Perry play knew he was a power forward in a guard's body.
The 1985-86 Georgetown media guide described McDonald thusly: "an absolutely fearless competitor, he will take the ball inside against anyone." McDonald played in all 38 games his freshman year, but his efforts were tempered by a role as a backup guard to all-conference standouts Michael Jackson and David Wingate. Most of his minutes were gained in early season contests, with a 15 point effort against Tennessee State highlighting a 4.1 points per game average in 1984-85. A back injury limited his efforts in 1985-86, as he scored just over three points a game. Rather than give up or transfer as two fellow classmates had done that season, McDonald rededicated his play in 1986-87 with one of the remarkable turnarounds in Hoya history.
The key to McDonald's resurgence was a change in position. McDonald spent much of his two years as a reserve at shooting guard, which did not suit his skills as a scorer and rebounder. In 1986-87, with David Wingate having graduated and a noticeable gap alongside Reggie Williams at forward, McDonald moved to the frontcourt and was an immediate impact. He broke his career scoring mark in the opening game of the season with 17 points, and proceeded to score in double figures in 30 of 34 games. Despite being only 6-4, he led the team in rebounding nine times and averaged 16.3 points per game in Big East play.
Two of McDonald's memorable games in Georgetown basketball came against Syracuse. On Jan. 31, 1987, with the heavily favored Orangemen playing at Capital Centre, John Thompson knew that center Ben Gillery would be no match for Syracuse All-American candidate Rony Seikaly. He made the unusual decision to put McDonald down low against the 6-11 Seikaly, and McDonald not only contained Seikaly (holding him to four field goals and 13 points), but turned in a 21 point, seven rebound effort. His late game play forced overtime, and with the last shot in overtime, McDonald posted low and took a turnaround jumper at the buzzer, 83-81.
Two weeks later, McDonald topped the favored Orangemen again, scoring a career high 26 to lead the Hoyas to a 72-71 win at the Carrier Dome. For his efforts that season, McDonald was named second team all-Big East and earned an honorable mention All-America selection. Later that summer, he was a member of the 1987 U.S. gold medal team at the World University Games, finishing fourth in scoring ahead of future NBA stars such as Arizona's Sean Elliott and Iowa's B.J. Armstrong. McDonald scored 18 in the medal round win over Cuba.
With all this international experience, some expected McDonald to be the focal point of the 1987-88 Hoyas, but John Thompson opted to emphasize guard play to drive the Hoya offense. McDonald's on court time dropped about 10 percent from 1987 to 1988, and he took almost 70 fewer shots, but still led the team in rebounding in 16 games and scoring in six. He set a team record with eight offensive rebounds in a game, while a 21 point, 12 rebound effort against Providence was his season high.
Despite having played the most games in Georgetown history (133) without a single foul out and averaging only 1.29 fouls per game, Perry McDonald was not a timid basketball player. A two time state Golden Gloves champion, he could defend himself when provoked and most players knew it. Late in the season, though, Pitt's Jerome Lane tangled with McDonald on the verge of the Panthers' upset win over the Hoyas, and McDonald promptly dispatched Lane into press row, setting off a notable brawl between the teams in the final four seconds of the game. In the 1988 off-season, NCAA Rule 19 established a one game suspension for any on-court fight and a season long suspension for any second violation during the year. The rule has virtually eliminated any such scuffles since then.
Following graduation, McDonald was invited to the 1988 Olympic basketball tryouts but was not selected to the team. An undersized forward like McDonald was considered a poor fit for the NBA, but he was invited instead to join the new World Basketball League, a league with a height limit of 6-4 and below. Not surprisingly, McDonald earned all-league defensive honors in each of the four years the WBL was in operation, and was named its championship tournament MVP in the league's final season in 1992. He later played basketball in Europe before settling in his home state of Louisiana.
Perry McDonald was the centerpiece of what was, in retrospect, an unfulfilled recruiting class following the 1984 championship season. Among the players of his era, McDonald's effort and determination epitomized the hard-nosed, physical skills of Georgetown's nationally ranked teams of the 1980's.