Arizona Wildcats freshman forward Zach Peters is ending his basketball career, the school said today.
UA said Peters will remain on scholarship, but will end his basketball career as a result of a medical exemption filed by the university. The exemption will allow UA to pay for his scholarship but not have it count against its maximum of 13.
Peters had a long history of concussions before he arrived at UA last summer but was cleared to play fully in November -- and was rarely used, playing in just 11 games.
“You never want to see anyone’s athletic career cut short by injury, especially a person of Zach’s character,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. “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.”
Today's announcement is a significant change from the stance that Peters and Miller have had this spring.
Peters said the day before UA's season ending loss to Wisconsin in the NCAA tournament that "everything's great" even though he rarely played for the Wildcats.
"I’m excited for the offseason," Peters said, to "see what that can do for my game. I'll be completely ready for next year."
When asked about Peters' status during a news conference last month, Miller did not say his status would change and gave no indication that Peters was facing further medical issues. He said he met with Peters along with all of the other returning UA players.
"We treat him like every player in our program," Miller said, who then spoke in general about postseason meetings. "We had our postseason meeting. Clearly defined the expectations moving forward. Reviewed what happened. We give them an opportunity to talk, making sure they’re aligned with what they want to get out of this, that we can deliver as a coaching staff and a program, and we move on from there."
A UA spokesman said Peters did not have any further medical issues this spring but opted to leave basketball in order to ensure his future health. That's what Peters indicated in his statement through UA.
“I want to thank everyone who has supported me throughout my basketball career,” Peters said in the 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.
“As advised by many medical professionals, this is the best course of action to ensure myself a safe and healthy future. I’m excited to remain a student and pursue a degree at the University of Arizona.”
Peters was cleared to play in November after a series of concussions between his high school senior season and his true freshman season at Kansas. But he played only 31 total minutes all season, even though Miller said before the season he expected him to be in the regular playing rotation.
Peters' move opens up a scholarship the Wildcats can offer in 2014-15. They are expected to host Boston College transfer Ryan Anderson next week and are also reportedly pursuing South Florida transfer John Egbunu. Anderson is visiting Iowa State this weekend and is scheduled to visit Indiana before arriving in Tucson next weekend.