The next installment of our player profiles series will cover freshman wing L.J. Peak. There is a lot of excitement surrounding Peak, an explosive scorer who recorded gaudy statistics as a senior at Gaffney (S.C.) High School. He arrives on the hilltop with a huge amount of potential, and the chance to immediately establish himself in John Thompson III's rotation.
Senior-year statistics: 38 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 1.4 APG
Recruiting Profile: Four-star recruit, #31 ESPN, #68 Rivals, #100 247Sports, #63 Scout
After attending Gaffney High School for his first two years of high school, Peak spent a year at Whitney Young High School in Chicago, alongside future teammate Paul White. He chose to return to Gaffney for his senior year, and the results were spectacular. He carried his team to a 20-5 record, and although his team fell in the third round of their playoffs, the loss did not fall on Peak's shoulders, as he scored 49 points in defeat. As a result of his spectacular performance, he was named South Carolina's Mr. Basketball, and arrives at Georgetown as a highly accomplished scorer.
Peak is an explosive athlete who is a threat to score from anywhere on the floor. Right now, he is most adept as a scorer around the rim, and he has shown the ability to score in traffic and through contact. He is also an above-the-rim player, particularly in transition, where he is aggressive and effective attacking the rim. Peak also has the ability to be an above-average perimeter defender, where he has the frame and agility to stay in front of most players. However, there is no doubt that Peak's calling card is his explosive scoring ability.
Peak's commitment to Georgetown was very unexpected. 100% of the pundits on 247Sports's Crystal Ball predicted that Peak would attend his home state school of South Carolina. At his commitment announcement, he first put on a Gamecocks hat, to the delight of the crowd in his hometown of Gaffney. However, he then tossed it to the side and replaced it with a Georgetown hat, leaving the crowd stunned.
Questionable commitment announcement aside, Peak's arrival on the Hilltop is undoubtedly a cause for celebration, as he has the potential to develop into a star in a Hoyas uniform.
Peak is part of a crowded rotation of wings this year. Jabril Trawick returns as the starter at shooting guard, and Aaron Bowen, Reggie Cameron, Isaac Copeland, and Paul White are all in play at the wing positions for the Hoyas. In addition, Peak will undoubtedly face a steep learning curve in his first college season. His high school highlights largely consist of clips of him dunking on, over, and around the unfortunate souls who were tasked with guarding him:
While he is an extremely athletic and talented player, he will not be able to physically dominate in the way that he did in high school. As a result, he will need to work to become a more consistent ball-handler and outside shooter in order to ease his transition to the college game and earn John Thompson III's trust. Peak is used to dominating, and it will be an adjustment for Peak to operate as just another player within a team rotation. It may be easy for him to become frustrated with the higher level of competition and smaller role as he jumps from high school basketball to the Big East.
Despite all of this, however, it seems that Peak will have an opportunity to seize minutes and contribute right from the outset of his college career. He will provide an explosive, attacking element to a team that has lacked those qualities at times over the past few years. He could represent a formidable scoring threat as he gains confidence, and could develop into a superstar on the hilltop.
Peak's play in Kenner League drew some rave reviews. He was nearly unstoppable when he attacked the rim, especially in transition, and he showcased a quick and long first step. In addition, he was consistently aggressive, and it was clear that he has a true scorer's mentality. It is easy to envision Peak exploding for 20+ points a few times during his freshman season.
However, that is not to say that there were no concerns about Peak's Kenner League performance. His aggressive, whirling-dervish style did lend itself to a few turnovers, which may be frustrating as Peak adjusts to the college game. In addition, his jumpshot was very streaky, as he has not quite established consistent mechanics yet. Still, Peak showed that he has enough talent to make an impact for the Hoyas right away, as he scored 23.9 points per game, with a few explosions for 30+ points.
It seems almost inevitable that Peak will provide a few spectacular highlights this year. However, it remains to be seen whether he will be able to improve his jumpshot and ball-handling, and whether he will be able to adjust to playing a supporting role within a complicated offensive system. If everything breaks right for Peak, he could have an incredible freshman season, but until the games begin, he will be something of a question mark.
Peak begins the season as a sparkplug off the bench, and becomes the leader of the second unit, putting up points in bunches while D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Josh Smith rest. As the season grows, so does Peak's confidence, and he eventually earns a starting role at the small forward position, where he thrives in a supporting role. He displays improved form on his jumpshot, and plays hard on both ends of the floor, earning John Thompson III's trust and creating optimism for a huge sophomore season.
The adjustment to college basketball proves to be too much for Peak at the beginning of his career. He struggles to get to the rim, and thus tries to force the issue, often resulting in turnovers. He displays visible frustration with his lack of touches, and struggles to adjust to his role as a supporting player. Peak falls behind Aaron Bowen and Reggie Cameron in the wing rotation, and is kept on a short leash by John Thompson III as the team moves toward the postseason.