Zach Peters addition to add depth to Arizona Wildcats' thin front court
Arizona men’s basketball was able to add another piece to its puzzle late last week when the NCAA ruled that Kansas transfer Zach Peters would be eligible to play immediately and retain eligibility for four years.
Peters, a 6-foot-10, 238-pound forward with three-point range, has the potential to add depth to the Wildcats’ frontcourt this season and will be looked at to help fill the void of a skilled big man with a consistent jump shot left by former Wildcat Grant Jerrett.
The Plano, Texas native initially signed with Kansas prior to his freshman year, but announced his intention to transfer to Arizona last November before playing a regular season game for the Jayhawks.
“Today’s news from the NCAA is very exciting for Zach and his family, as well as our basketball program,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said in a press release. “There was a lot of effort and cooperation that went into this waiver process.”
Heading into his senior year of high school, Peters was ranked as the 97th overall recruit in his class and averaged 15.5 points and nine rebounds per game in his final season at Prestonwood Christian Academy. Throughout his high school career, he earned first-team all-state honors four times and led his team to state titles in 2010 and 2012 and state runner-up finishes in 2009 and 2011.
Peters’ main issue is staying healthy. Throughout his basketball career, he has been plagued with five concussions in a two-year period. Nonetheless, the new Wildcat said he’s eager to get back on the court.
“I’ve tried to remain patient throughout this process, and today’s news is definitely a relief,” Peters said. “I’ve been making strides physically with the goal of getting back to full competition, and, right now, it’s about honoring that process. I’m excited to keep improving, and it’s great to be able to put my focus on the season ahead.”
In addition to Peters, the Wildcats’ frontcourt rotation will feature redshirt junior Matt Korcheck, sophomores Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski and McDonald’s All-Americans Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
While deemed eligible by the NCAA, it still remains to be seen when Arizona’s medical personnel will clear Peters to participate in full contact drills.
“To this point, Zach has participated with us and we’re still in the process of him returning to full competition and contact,” Miller said. “Zach has made tremendous progress in his time at Arizona, and we’re optimistic that with continued improvement, that time will come in the near future.”
Coach Richardson takes leave of absence
The UA announced Friday that men’s basketball assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson will be taking a temporary leave of absence due to health issues.
Richardson assured players and fans that he was isn’t in immediate danger.
“This is not a life or death situation but [is] nonetheless very important,” Richardson said in a press release. “I am very appreciative to be given the flexibility to temporarily step away from coaching and basketball, and to concentrate on my well-being. I want to thank Coach Miller, the Arizona basketball family and the athletic department for allowing me this opportunity. I look forward to returning to the Arizona basketball program.”
Richardson is in his fifth season at Arizona.
“We support Coach Richardson’s decision to take some time off from his coaching duties,” Miller said in a press release. “What’s most important at this time is that he takes care of himself. We will miss his contribution to our program, but giving him time away is the best thing we can do. We look forward to his return.”
— Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17