New Surroundings, Same Game
LJ Peak’s transition to Chicago has been as smooth as his jumper.
by Dave Spahn / @DaveSpahn
The transfer rate in high school and college basketball has been a hot topic for discussion in the past few months. With an ever growing number of Division I players transferring every season, some have raised the issue whether we have a “transfer epidemic” on our hands. While the transfer rate is truly at an alarmingly high rate, a certain category of players who transfer end up becoming extremely successful at their second stop. Insert LJ Peak into that “smart transfer” category.
Peak left his home town of Gaffney, SC, in hopes to play a national schedule and compete at the biggest and brightest stage high school basketball has to offer—a deal that nearly every high school basketball player in America dreams about. Peak left his comfort zone and moved north to put his talents to the test. Although his new surroundings may be different in the Windy City, Peak’s approach to each game has stayed constant throughout his transition.
“Playing in Chicago is just like playing at home to me,” Peak explained. “We just have a better team here [at Whitney Young] and play against top competition every night.”
Peak’s fantastic numbers throughout the season (14.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.6 spg) proved Peak’s lofty ranking among the top-100 juniors in the nation. He solidified himself as an elite Chicago player and ranks among the best the city has to offer. Teaming up with fellow top fellow top-100 juniors Jahlil Okafor and Paul White, and future DI point guard Miles Reynolds, Peak’s game has opened up to a multitude of new roles and looks. If you ask Peak about his game, his he’ll tell you he’s far from a finished product.
“I think I have become a much better defensive player, more of a lock-down defender, and my shot has gotten a lot better since coming to Chicago, but I still have a long way to go,” Peak stated. “I’m nowhere close to where I need to be. I’m definitely not done working. This is only the beginning, really.”
Peak listed a laundry list of schools that include Florida State, Georgetown, Ohio State, Marquette, UConn, Florida, Baylor, Clemson, Maryland, Tennessee, VCU, NC State, LSU, DePaul, Providence, Illinois, Louisville and Michigan State on his college list. He obviously hasn’t trimmed his list to date, but he did name Florida State and UConn as schools that stand out above the pack. He mentioned both FSU and UConn’s respective coaching staffs as the reason for their leading position in his recruitment and plans to take visits to both places after his AAU season with the CP3 All-Stars is finished.
Peak’s Whitney Young squad won the Chicago City Playoffs last week, a feat Whitney Young has not accomplished since Quinton Richardson donned a Dolphin jersey. The four-man junior quartet of Okafor, Peak, White and Reynolds has terrorized almost every opponent in its path, including dominating victories over Dematha (MD), Chester (PA), Bishop Gormon (NV), Bishop O’Connell (VA), White Station (TN) and Long Beach Poly (CA). They still have the state championship to contend for, but if the ’12-13 season has been any indication of the future, LJ Peak’s long line of college suitors should grow even larger.