Smart, Alec: Peters pushes ahead at NBA draft combine, interviews with five teams

May 13, 2017 | by Michael Osipoff, Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — After Alec Peters learned his Valparaiso career was over, he didn't leave his room for several days.

It remains gutwrenching for the Crusaders' career scoring and rebounding leader, even if he's moved forward, including with the NBA draft combine.

"You're built on this idea of coming to a mid-major school and taking them to the Sweet 16 your last year and having this magical run, being that Cinderella," Peters said Friday at Quest Multisport Complex. "In a few days, it came crumbling down.

"Our season ended horribly — it wasn't a good year whatsoever. It didn't work out the way you hoped and dreamed. It makes you mad, it pisses you off."

Peters is two-plus months into his recovery from surgery for a stress fracture in his right foot.

He continues to progress. He's been working in the pool and riding the stationary bike. He was wearing a walking boot Friday after having been non-weight bearing for seven weeks.

He's five weeks away from running and jumping on the court. It's been estimated he will resume full basketball activities in six months.

"It's been tough mentally," Peters said. "It's tested my patience a lot."

Being unable to compete in the combine's drills and scrimmages was agonizing. But participating in medical testing, team interviews and measurements was beneficial.

Peters, who signed with Chicago-based Priority Sports and moved to the city for his rehabilitation and training, received favorable feedback as team doctors examined him and reviewed his scans.

Peters interviewed with the Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Pelicans, Washington Wizards, New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies.

"Everybody told me not to rush it — that's the biggest thing," Peters said.

Peters measured 6-foot-8 3/4 with shoes and 6-7 1/4 without, with a wingspan of 6-10 3/4. He weighed 232 pounds. He was listed at 6-9 and 235 as a senior.

His body fat was 8.8 percent.

"I've never been below 10 percent in my life," Peters said. "I've changed everything I've been eating and gotten my core stronger. My upper body's redefined."

Peters had been viewed as a likely late first-round pick. The injury could impact his position.

DraftExpress.com projected him at No. 39 to the Philadelphia 76ers, and NBADraft.net No. 50 to the Sixers.

"I came from Washington, Illinois, and Valparaiso University," Peters said. "If I get my name called at all, I'm going to be happy.

"Every team needs shooting, and that's something I'm the best person in this draft at doing."

Even without the combine, NBA teams have a sizable body of work on Peters.

After withdrawing from last year's draft and returning to Valparaiso, Peters had precisely the type of senior season he had envisioned until the injury brought a halt with two games left in conference play.

He recalled feeling pain as far back as mid-January. He chalked it up to heavy minutes, particularly this season. He routinely was limited in practice, pushing for games.

But with his foot simply not improving, he knew something was wrong.

After Peters delivered a heartfelt senior night speech following the Crusaders' Feb. 21 win against Milwaukee, he hobbled to the training room to get examined by team doctor Tony Levenda.

Peters' suspicions were all but confirmed when Levenda told him he needed to get checked out further.

The diagnosis called for Peters being sidelined at least six weeks.

All parties involved agreed Peters should seek a second opinion. He had a March 1 appointment with David Porter, a foot and ankle specialist in Indianapolis.

Peters received confirmation his season was finished on the same day he was named Horizon League Player of the Year.

A few days later, after assessing the options, it was determined surgery was the best course for Peters' long-term future. He underwent the operation March 10, getting two pins inserted and having a bone fragment removed.

Surgery was another blow, but Peters has been resilient. He's eager for the next challenge.

"Obviously, I want to hear my name called," Peters said. "But if it doesn't, my agents assure me and I'm assuring myself I'll get an opportunity somewhere in training camp. I'll be ready by then."