When you raise a child, Tim Peters says, you develop an instant sense when something is wrong with their health, be it a cold, flu or whatever.
So after his son, Zach, suffered a concussion for the fifth time in a 16-month period last fall, Tim and his wife traveled from Texas to Lawrence, Kan., to check him out.
They only needed one look into his eyes.
“He was a mess,” Tim Peters said.
Zach appeared physically OK but suddenly struggled with math to the point where he could not multiply two times negative five.
Zach’s folks told him to come home. And after more testing, everyone realized how much recovery was left.
Zach enrolled in classes at Collin College in Texas but could not take any heavy analytical courses because his brain wasn't ready.
“They said he shouldn’t even be listening to his iPhone,” Tim Peters said.
But after just over a month at home, by late January, Peters began testing normally on academics. By February, a concussion specialist in Dallas cleared him for physical activity, and soon after Zach began thinking about playing again.
By May, he committed to Arizona and appealed to have immediate eligibility, which the NCAA approved Thursday. He may also soon be approved medically if his eye coordination is deemed safe enough for the high speed and intensity of college basketball.
Zach and Tim both say that could happen in the very near future.
“The NCAA was a great surprise because we had no clue if this was going to go on six weeks or two more months,” Tim Peters said. “But the best news is Zach’s health.”
Peters has been free of concussions for about a full year now. His timetable, as documented by Tim Peters and the Lawrence Journal-World:
Peters suffered his first concussion at a LeBron James basketball camp during the summer of 2011.
He suffered a second one as a wide receiver on Prestonwood Christian Academy’s football team during the fall of 2011.
Peters suffered a concussion shortly after arriving at Kansas in June 2012 but managed to play well during the Jayhawks’ European exhibition trip in August (Kansas coach Bill Self said Peters was Kansas' best big man behind Jeff Withey after one game).
But he suffered another concussion in September and, after returning to practice while wearing protective gear, suffered a blow that required stitches. He announced in November he would leave Kansas after the fall semester.
If Peters is cleared to play medically, where does he fit in with the Wildcats?
Sean Miller has consistently suggested Peters’ size, skill and shooting would make him an ideal fit off the bench inside. He would likely play behind Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley, adding an outside shooting touch that UA’s other big men have not shown.
“I don’t know if he’s a guy who’s going to take 37 minutes but I know he’s a contributor… no question, a solid piece” of the rotation, Miller said.
Tim Peters said his son’s role is now in Miller’s hands, and that he’s glad it finally got there, thanks to doctors, coaches and the NCAA’s help.
He said he’s also glad Zach wound up at UA, after having visited here this summer.
“That’s a unique team,” Tim Peters said. “They’re really great kids. That doesn’t mean they’re angels but they respect their job and their teammates.”