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Arizona basketball: Wildcats wait on NCAA to rule on Peters’ eligibility

Zach Peters

Zach Peters

The Arizona athletic department has had its issues with the NCAA not moving in a speedy manner. Wide receiver Davonte’ Neal, meet power forward Zach Peters.

The latter case brought out “Sarcastic” Sean Miller on Wednesday at Arizona basketball media day. We love Sarcastic Sean.

The Wildcats would like to know the eligibility status of Peters, who spent the 2012 fall semester at Kansas before returning home to Plano, Texas, in the wake of multiple concussions. After receiving medical clearance, he announced his intention of transferring to Arizona in the spring, arriving in the summer.

The athletic department is appealing to the NCAA to waive the rule that states transfers must establish a year in residence before becoming eligible, citing the concussion problems as beyond Peters’ control.

Which brings us to Sarcastic Sean, who figured he would have heard some news by now.

“I think the NCAA has given us four or five deadlines to rule on him, and they’re 0-for-5,” Miller said.

“I would say that when they give us the sixth deadline, they will miss that one, too. We’re anticipating an answer as soon as tomorrow. We anticipated an answer three weeks ago. And if you ask me three weeks from now, I may say we’re anticipating an answer the following week.”

He was, as they say, only getting started.

“We’ve done everything we need to do. I believe Zach’s family has done everything they need to do. Kansas has been incredibly cooperative. I think they have done everything they need to do.

“It’s probably as simple as one person picking up a piece of paper, walking 50 feet and dropping it one a desk, and that person picking up the paper, looking at it and putting a checkmark in the corner. But we’re not there yet.”

Well, in the meantime, Peters is preparing as if he’s going to be able to play. What else is there to do?

This is not a small consideration. Peters is, very possibly, one of the missing pieces to an Arizona puzzle that might have a Final Four logo on it. He’s a 6-10 post player who can shoot. Basically, he could be what Grant Jerrett would have been for Arizona if he hadn’t turned pro after his freshman season.

Otherwise, Arizona’s big men and small forwards are unproven from 3-point range.

“I like to shoot,” said Peters, who is listed at 238 pounds.

“Being physical kind of takes a toll on your body. I’m able to do it, but shooting is probably my favorite thing to do.”

Peters, carefully monitored by the Arizona medical staff, has been conditioning and going through early drills. He has not yet been allowed to have full-court contact.

“We’re really erring on the side of caution,” Miller said. “So far, so good. He’s really progressed a ton since he came here this summer.”

Peters suffered two concussions in high school while playing receiver at Prestonwood Christian Academy and sustained three more in just a few months at Kansas last fall.

“People don’t realize how bad they were. … They piled one on top of the other,” he said.

“When I got my first one, I was fine. The second one, I was still fine. But there were small things you wouldn’t even notice going through life. Say you don’t sleep well or whatever, you just put it to the side. But after one of my last concussions, I could definitely tell there was something different going on and I needed to seek help.

“I wasn’t the person or player I could be with these injuries. … It was pretty obvious I needed to take consideration of my body and health.”

He said his original intent was to take a break from basketball and stay at Kansas for the spring semester, but his parents wanted him to return home.

“I had the option to stay, but I thought it was best for me to go home, too,” he said. “Which says a lot for a college student; nobody wants to go home after our first semester.”

He sounds patient while his status is uncertain, saying, “We have time, we have time.”

Miller didn’t sound as tolerant while he awaits the key decision.

“One of the things I love about Zach having coached him and watched him, he can really shoot the ball. He’s skilled. His shooting, skill level and size would be a nice shot in the arm,” Miller said.

“I don’t know if Zach is going to be a guy that plays 37 minutes (a game) if he’s eligible, but I know this — being a contributor, being a part of the rotation … no question, that would be a solid piece.”

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