There’s still no telling if the NCAA will allow Zach Peters to play for the Arizona Wildcats this season, so life goes on.
The transfer forward from Kansas has been going through nearly all of the Wildcats’ skill work, taking part in conditioning drills, soaking up the UA system … then going home to don sunglasses and flip on a computer program.
For a guy who has suffered five concussions in the past two years, that’s when some of the most important stuff happens.
“A spot will show up, and I have to click on it fast,” Peters said. “The sunglasses make it really hard to see. It’s actually an eye workout. Anyone can do it and get benefits from it. But because I had concussions, the stimulus was kind of thrown off, and they say it’s really important when you’re playing a full-speed sport to get all that back.”
Peters said he has done so well on the tests, and in his early conditioning and on-court work, that he’s close to being able to participate in full-contact drills.
But how Peters does physically ultimately may have no bearing on whether he can play this season. Peters is still seeking a waiver to be able to play this season, instead of sitting out the redshirt year required of transfers, after leaving Kansas last fall.
Four months after Peters opted to transfer to UA, and just a day before full practices open Friday, there’s still no word how the NCAA will rule.
“I think the NCAA has given us four or five deadlines to rule on, and they’re 0 for 5,” Miller said at his annual preseason media day press conference Wednesday. “I would say if they give us a sixth deadline, they’ll 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.”
The case is unusual. Peters left Kansas after the 2012 fall semester, briefly attending a junior college near his Texas home, and said he signed a release that he would not transfer for medical reasons.
Then, after several months of improvement last spring, he opted to transfer to Arizona with the intent of playing again.
“When I left Kansas, I had my mind set on not playing for a while, so I signed a release that caused me not to be able to transfer for medical reasons,” Peters said. “I don’t know what it was, but there was something in the process, that signing the release form made it difficult to transfer and get eligible to play this year. You have to go through this process when you do this.”
But Miller says UA has presented a “very honest assessment of the situation that it wasn’t under his control,” and that he is hopeful of the outcome.
“We’ve done everything that we need to do. Zach’s family has done everything they need to do. Kansas has been incredibly cooperative. They’ve 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 off on a desk, and that (next) person picking up the paper and putting a check mark on it. But we’re not there yet.”
There could be a thought that maybe all those concussions suggest sitting out isn’t a bad thing, anyway, if Peters has to do so.
But there are two problems with that. For one, Peters has already been away from full contact for 12 months, dating back to preseason activities at Kansas, and he doesn’t exactly want to sit out another 12 months.
“It’s almost like I’ve already taken a year off,” Peters said. “I want to play. I think it’s important for me to play. I think I can definitely help the team out a lot. I think this will be a great year for us, and I want to be a part of it.”
In addition, Miller, as his frustration indicated, clearly wants Peters to play. While noting that the Wildcats may not be as good as their preseason expectations, in part because they may be a
man short up front, Miller says he’s hoping Peters can flush out the frontcourt with size and shooting.
Miller has suggested that Peters could give UA the “stretch-four” kind of role that Grant Jerrett played with the Wildcats last season before leaving for the NBA.
“Having Zach eligible to play would solve one of the things I have brought up as a concern,” Miller said, referring to a potentially short-handed frontcourt. “The other thing I love about Zach, having coached him and watched him, is he really can shoot the ball, and he’s skilled.
“I don’t know if he’s going to take 37 minutes, but I know there’s no question he would be a solid piece (of the rotation). We’re optimistic it will happen. Hopefully sooner rather than later.”