Jeremy Peck is like any other kid. He goes to school, studies for tests and quizzes, plays basketball… pretty normal, right? This “ordinary” high school student is now looking to become a back to back member of the Texas All State Team and lead St. Thomas Catholic High School in Houston to the state title in his senior season, all the while knowing that he is committed to play for the Division 1 college basketball program of Drexel University. Suddenly you think he isn’t so normal anymore, now do you? While talking to him on the phone, you would think he is just a standard teenager by the calm and happy attitude he conveys, but his six-foot, eight-inch stature and lively playing style on the court shows there is a lot more to this ordinary kid.
I spoke with Jeremy last weekend about all things basketball and there really isn’t much he’s not ready to do: he has already nearly averaged a double-double in a season, worked out with professional coaches at the Houston Rockets’ facilities, and played against incredible international talent (and met the Chinese Vice Premier while doing so) through an NBA foreign exchange program. What is awesome is that he is ready to do more. I asked him about goals for his senior season, and he laid it out pretty simply,
“I sat down with my coaches and we hashed out some goals: I want to get 20 points and 10 rebounds every game, finish first in districts, and make First Team All-State again. [And] hopefully get that ring and win the state championship.” Pretty matter-of-fact.
For Jeremy to succeed in the coming years, it will be important that he sticks to his goals and not stray far from his gameplan. When he arrives in West Philly for his freshman year at Drexel, there is a strong chance that he could see some minutes early in his career. When I brought up that possibility he noted, “What [the coaching staff] said was that since I have the ability to step out and expand the floor by shooting threes and midrange jumpers, it would help them out … it would add a new big man for the offense which is what they were really looking for.”
The Houston native’s ability to be a hybrid center on both sides of the ball has boded well for him as an amateur athlete, playing in the AAU circuit with the Houston Defenders 17U team. He says his roles are a bit different for both St. Thomas school ball and with the Defenders, “In AAU, there are five of us who can score and do different stuff, but in high school I have to play big man by default. [There] I have to score more in post ups, whereas in AAU, I score more from outside.” This is an edge that some players may not have and certainly not an edge that propels most basketball players to the Division 1 level. Getting to experience two of your own playing styles on equally competitive fields creates a holistic game, something Jeremy can use to his advantage in the coming years at Drexel.
What lured Jeremy to Philadelphia was a combination of factors. The academics, location, and ability to play a high level of college basketball all weighed itself into the equation, but the change of scenery is an experience in it’s own. “It’s kinda crazy to think about,” he described. “You don’t really realize how far away it is until you make your official visit and see how different everything is. It’s a cool experience to be able to be recruited out of state and [then] go out of state to college and play basketball”. Jeremy plans to major in business and really likes the prospect of him having a four-year degree from the university as a student-athlete, even if hoops aren’t written in the stars, “Once I am done with [basketball], I have a degree from Drexel that I can come back with. It’s a pretty nice thing to have.”
After college, it would be assumed that he wants to play in the NBA, but playing overseas isn’t something Jeremy has completely turned away from, “Coach Flint has a pretty good track record getting people overseas to play, he said to me in our phone conversation. “It has been a goal of mine to go overseas and play, to get that experience and see where that takes me.” But for now, Jeremy has to worry about getting through the workload of senior year, just like any other ordinary kid.
Picture courtesy of the St. Thomas basketball Twitter account (@STHSBasketball)
Hailing from Houston, Texas, Jeremy Peck has decided to head up to Philadelphia for college and play at Drexel University. On Tuesday, the senior at St. Thomas Catholic High School in Houston announced his commitment on Twitter, making him the second recruit for the Dragons’ recruiting class of 2016. Following his announcement, an outpouring amount of support and congratulations were sent to Peck.
As it goes for on-court play, his off-ball speed and agility are incredible for a 6’8” player, especially on the fast break. Plus, with an often overlooked three point shot in his arsenal and soft hands around the rim, he can stretch the floor offensively and create opportunities for other players. In his junior year, Peck led his team to its first Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) tournament win in three years, being named team co-MVP with fellow senior Colin Jones. Peck was not only recognized by his team, but also across the state, as he was nominated for first team TAPPS All-State. Fourth year St. Thomas head coach John Kwok told the St. Thomas athletics website, “[he] is determined to advance his game. He’s more fluid and instinctive,”
When Peck arrives at Drexel, he will be a part of a deep frontcourt, joining upperclassmen Rodney Williams, Mohamed Bah, and sophomore Tyshawn Miles. Therefore, being a starter right off the bat is not likely, but with Peck’s skillset, it is very likely he will become a focal point in the offense as early as his sophomore year.
After being recruited by the likes of Tulsa, Loyola-Maryland, Tulane, Air Force, and Boston University, Peck made his decision to attend Drexel based on the school’s size, location, and educational reputation, according to CityofBasketballLove.com. Peck set goals for himself following his junior season that included working on ball handling, defensive readiness, and getting stronger in his core through weight room sessions and looks to develop in those areas before he starts at Drexel next year and prove why the trip up was worth it.
Photo courtesy of @STHSBasketball
For much of the last decade, Samme and Shannon Givens have been a common commodity in the Philadelphia area college basketball circuit.
Both Shannon and Samme started at Drexel University, where they had some success. Samme came to the school in 2008 and made an impression on the Drexel fan base immediately. In freshman year, he averaged 20 minutes per game, 5 points, and nearly 7 rebounds. The next year, his brother Shannon joined in.
Shannon was coming off an impressive season at Fels High School in Philadelphia, where he was named first team All-Public League and averaged more than 23 points per game.
“My brother and I always had a dream of playing basketball together,” Shannon told The Empire. Thanks to hard work and chemistry with his brother, Samme upped his points per game to 7 and his rebounds to nearly 8. Shannon contributed only 2.7 points per game, but shot a strong 43% from the field and 45% from three in about 10 minutes of play. However, the team was mediocre and had struggle winning. They finished with a 16-16 record. Despite the up-and-down season, Shannon still remembers some good memories.
“My fondest memory was when we played against Kentucky,” reminisced Shannon. “We lost by 44 points that game but the experience to play against the best team in the country with a sold out arena was electrifying. Kentucky had 7 players that went to the NBA that year and I’m pretty sure 4 of them were only freshmen. Also I can say that my brother and I held it down for our team with 12 points for Sam and 10 points for me.”
But that was Shannon’s last season, as he departed for West Chester University, where his father, Kevin Givens, had played basketball. He is the school's all-time leading scorer.
“I decided to transfer from Drexel because after my freshman season there. I felt that I didn’t fit the style of play that coach Flint had for us,” added Shannon. “Also, with me not being happy on the court I thought I was bringing my brother down in terms of him worrying about me.”
Maybe Shannon was right. The next season was a strong one for him and his brother. Shannon averaged nearly 10 points per game and started majority of the season for West Chester. He also tacked on many explosive games, including 27 points at Gannon and 9 assists at the University of the Sciences.
As Shannon was thriving in his new setting, Samme was becoming one of the best players in the Colonial Athletic Association. He helped the Dragons to a 21-10 record and averaged a double-double. Samme was one of the most efficient players in the conference, shooting 52% from the field. But it wasn’t enough to lead Drexel, as they didn’t get out of the CAA tournament and were often plagued by a plethora of turnovers.
The next season was Drexel’s best in some time. Behind the guidance of then senior Samme, the Dragons went 29-7 and earned themselves a bid to the NIT tournament. After opening the season 2-4, Drexel won 23 of their next 24 games prior to the conference tournament. But they were once again eliminated out of the CAA tournament by VCU. The season wasn’t ruined though because they earned themselves a chance to play in the NIT, where they won two games.
Samme continued his success, averaging 11.6 points per game, 7.9 rebounds, and 1 block. He stayed consistent shooting from the field 52% and upping his free throw percentage to north of 70%. No wonder it was such a successful season for Drexel.
On the other hand, Shannon did not play the 2011-12 season. The West Chester basketball site described his absence as a “one year hiatus”. The next year, Shannon’s junior season, he averaged 8 points per game and had 40 steals. Although he made only 1 start, he played in 28 games and was a common commodity off of the bench. WCU had a strong season behind Shannon’s guidance with a 20-8 record. But the next year was even better.
In 27 games during the 2013-14 season, Shannon averaged 12 points, including 6 games with 20 or more points. His quickness also paid off, averaging 1.2 steals per outing. West Chester went 20-10 and earned themselves a trip to the NCAA DII National Tournament. The team was eliminated by Indiana University (PA) despite Shannon’s 18 point, 6 rebound performance.
Samme, in the meantime, was in the Netherlands for the 2012-13 season. He was playing with Leeuwarden and was a dominant force. Shooting 65% from the field, Samme averaged 17 points per game and 8 rebounds. A year later he moved on to France, where he averaged 13 points and 5 rebounds, shooting 50% from the field. He started 4 of their 49 games.
Last season he bounced to Germany, but didn’t have his best year, averaging 9 points and 6 rebounds in 16 minutes of play. Although his PER was higher than the year before and he contributed when he could, he just couldn’t find consistent minutes. The man continued to do what he has done since Drexel however, shooting 54% from the field. Now he is on his way to Maccabi Raanana in Israel.
As for Shannon, he is now two years out of West Chester. “I’ve been keeping myself busy with basketball,” he said. “I’ve been on tour in Mexico playing in the top league, I’ve coached an 8th grade AAU team [called] Renegades, and I played for the Schuylkill Firedogs, a semi-pro team in the Eastern Basketball Alliance league. Also I assisted at Academy of the New Church this past year with my dad and Jeff Lytes, and their boys basketball team.”
But don’t think this is the end for Shannon and Samme. Still good friends, Shannon says he is “going to Israel” with his brother to tryout for a few teams to try and start his career overseas.
Maybe they will join forces again? It’s a possibility.
-Drexel loses to Charleston in the quarterfinal of the CAA tournament