The Arizona Wildcats’ curious experiment with Zach Peters is over.
UA said Friday that the freshman forward would leave the basketball team for medical reasons, ending a 12-month relationship that began when Peters committed to the Wildcats as a transfer from Kansas despite having suffered multiple concussions over the previous two years.
“You never want to see anyone’s athletic career cut short by injury, especially a person of Zach’s character,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said in a statement. “That being said, this is a decision made with an eye toward Zach’s bright and productive future. He has nothing but our full support as he begins his next chapter.”
Originally brought in as a replacement for the departed Grant Jerrett, a big man who could shoot from the outside, the 6-foot-10-inch Peters was cleared medically to play in November. He never wound up cracking UA’s playing rotation but showed no outward signs of further health problems.
When asked about Peters’ status last month, Miller said only that the staff was treating him like any other player and did not mention any health issues.
Peters said in March that he expected to be “completely ready for next year” and was excited about the offseason “to see what that can do for my game.”
According to UA’s release, that sentiment changed in recent weeks. A UA spokesman said Peters did not suffer any recent health setbacks but did a big-picture re-evaluation of his situation and opted to stop playing.
“As advised by many medical professionals, this is the best course of action to ensure myself a safe and healthy future,” Peters said in a UA statement. I’m excited to remain a student and pursue a degree at the University of Arizona.”
Peters is expected to pursue a business major at UA, and the school said it has applied for an exemption that would allow Peters to remain on scholarship but not count toward the 13-scholarship maximum.
The Wildcats had been at the maximum for 2014-15 but now have a scholarship they can offer to a transfer this spring if needed. Former Boston College forward Ryan Anderson has said on Twitter that he will visit the Wildcats next week, after first visiting Iowa State and Indiana, and departing South Florida big man John Egbunu is also reportedly considering Arizona.
A year ago, though, Peters was believed to be an answer in the post for Arizona.
Jerrett left Arizona after his freshman year for professional basketball, and Miller said before last season that Peters “could solve one of the things I have brought up as a concern,” with his size and ability to stretch defenses by shooting.
“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 if cleared to play, Miller said in September.
As it turned out, though, last season was just another chapter in Peters’ long and difficult journey to get on the court of a major college basketball game.
A native of Plano, Texas, Peters first suffered a concussion at a LeBron James camp during the summer of 2011, then another while playing high school football during the fall of 2011.
Peters suffered a third concussion shortly after arriving at Kansas in June 2012, a fourth concussion three months after that and also took another blow later in the fall of 2012 while wearing a protective helmet.
By November 2012, Peters announced he would transfer from Kansas and returned home to suburban Dallas. He recovered enough that he began physical activity in February 2013 and spent the summer in Tucson — but ultimately made only brief appearances in 11 UA games.
“I want to thank everyone who has supported me throughout my basketball career,” Peters said in UA’s statement. “I especially want to thank my family, as well as the medical staff, coaching staff and my teammates at the University of Arizona for their support over the course of a trying year.”
- Departing UA guard
- Nick Johnson
- has relocated to the San Francisco Bay area in order to train for the NBA predraft process, according to a spokesman for his agent,
- Aaron Goodwin
- UA freshman walk-on
- Eric Conklin
- will transfer to another school next season with the intent to earn more playing more, according to
- Chad Groth
- , a Phoenix-area basketball orga