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Arizona Wildcats basketball: Zach Peters cleared for practice contact

Zach Peters

Zach Peters

Arizona Wildcats forward Zach Peters has been cleared for full-contact practices after recovering from concussion problems that date back years and led to his withdrawal from Kansas last year.

As for when and how much he will play, just hold on a minute, coach Sean Miller said Tuesday.

“It’s been a while since he played competitive five-on-five, so you don’t go from zero to 100,” Miller said.

“But it’s just good for Zach, good for our team, to have another player involved in what we do every day. Hopefully, that will progress to where he can help us at some point this season.”

Peters, who left Kansas after the 2012 fall semester, was ruled eligible to play by the NCAA, which in September waived the normal year-in-residence that basketball transfers must establish.

Sixth-ranked Arizona opens the season at home Friday against Cal Poly, but don’t look for Peters in that game. It’s “too early,” the coach said, adding “that would be unfair at this point.”

Peters (6-10, 238) hasn’t played all that much full-contact basketball in the past couple of years, the last time being on a 2012 summer trip to Europe with the Jayhawks.

Since arriving in Tucson this summer, he has been doing conditioning, weight lifting and some practice drills while the team’s medical staff evaluated his progress. Miller said Peters has twice been to the concussion experts at the University of Pittsburgh.

Miller envisions his young-and-talented team being a work in progress through the non-conference season, and Peters’ status could mirror that. By the time of the season when games matter the most, he could be a key piece that the Wildcats don’t have otherwise — a big man who can shoot the 3-pointer.

“He brings a skill set to the table that is unique in that he is very good shooter, a very good passer, and he’s physical as well,” Miller said. “It’s not as if he’s just a 6-foot-9 guard. He can throw his body around.”

Miller will have ample options in the frontcourt. Kaleb Tarczewski will start at center, with Brandon Ashley at power forward and Aaron Gordon at small forward. Gordon will also see time at power forward.

Matt Korcheck is a post option off the bench. And then there will, eventually, be Peters, who has four seasons of eligibility remaining. If nothing else, in the short term while he works toward game time, he will be able to give the other forwards a new challenge in practice trying to defend a pick-and-pop big man.

“Zach has worked extremely hard and diligently to put himself in position to be successful here moving forward,” Miller said.

“From that perspective, the one thing we don’t want to do is throw too much his way, if for no other reason, it would just be unfair.”

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