Amidst tons of changes, Drexel recruit Jeremy Peck has been keeping things consistent this season.
By not straying from his usual routine, the Houston, Texas native has found success in all levels of his basketball career. For his high school, St. Thomas Catholic, Peck took his team to the semifinals in Dallas of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools state tournament at the 5A level, the highest classification for a private school. There they fell to eventual champion Prestonwood Christian but Peck saw this as a learning opportunity, despite being his last high school game, he knew the exact formula for how Prestonwood stopped his production.
“They have a 7-footer who’s going to Mississippi State and packed in a 2-3 zone with him or another guy doubling me wherever I went,” he said. “They had a freshman kid knocking down 3’s. When they had the lead they packed it in and slowed it down. Possessions went longer and longer as the game went on and we weren’t able to score enough late in the game. It was pretty frustrating.”
He also noted his own team’s struggles and how they contributed to the loss.“We started the game and couldn’t hit a 3 or an open jump shot, we had a really cold game. We missed 10 or so free throws and that is unusual for our team so something just wasn’t right for us.”
Despite not making it to the ultimate destination, a state championship, Peck says the personal goals he set in the beginning of the season were attained. The big man did indeed make 1st team All-District and All-State as well as the All-Tournament team. He also aimed at averaging a double-double and he thinks his numbers should fit around where he thought: within 16-17 points per game and between 8-10 rebounds per game. He commented that this season was different from past years, saying “this season was a little more difficult. In our district, more teams knew about our style of play and I had a man or two on me at all times. I was more of a catch and assist guy so I didn’t have to be a scorer, [but] it was fun getting the whole team involved.”
All in all the season was a success for Peck, which will in turn, make his move into the college game a lot easier. Without worrying about games he can now focus on wrapping up this school year and training, which resume this month with his personal trainer.
A spot he would like to work on his continuing to grow his ability to stretch the floor offensively. When being initially recruited by Drexel, then head coach Bruiser Flint was really interested in Peck’s dual-threat offensive ability, as he has a solid post game and a legitimate three-point threat in his arsenal. This season, between AAU with his the Defenders, and St. Thomas ball, Peck noticed he was playing more and more like a guard. He started to take and make more threes than in -years past. He dribbled the ball more and even brought it up acting as the point guard on numerous occasions. He hopes that will give him a greater chance of playing meaningful minutes as a freshman. “I hope it helps me stand out… During the recruitment process, that’s what everyone was saying. I would be able to space the floor and spot up and take 3’s. I’m not just a back-to-the-basket type player but I can do both. That’s what coaches really loved about me.”
Coaching is especially important for Peck, who was lured to Drexel mainly by the dual efforts of DU assistant coach Bobby Jordan and the Defenders’ AAU staff who has Philadelphia ties. Bruiser Flint and Drexel parted ways at the end of this season after 15 years, ushering a new era in Dragon basketball.
Zach Spiker takes over after serving as the head coach at the United States Military Academy for seven seasons, where he led the team to the most amount of wins in 30 years. The change came as a huge surprise to Peck. When I asked him what his initial reaction was upon hearing the news, he responded by saying Flint and his staff “were recruiting [him] the longest, ever since the middle of [his] junior year. He was really looking forward towards playing with those guys and was sad that it happened but realizes it’s a business when it comes to that area. Spiker reached out to Peck during the change and had a handful of really positive conversations over the phone with him and his family. Peck sees the coaching change as a sign of progression for the program. “It happened two or three years ago with UNC-Wilmington so why can’t we do the same thing?”
He also commented that, “It’s a real possibility [that we have success] with the players we have: young, still growing, and getting better and better, so I think that could be a real possibility.”
Under the leadership of Spiker, Drexel’s young team (only 2 seniors on the roster) will have a great opportunity to make noise early, especially if Peck gets involved as a freshman. Spiker, who has gained accolades from the likes of Mike Krzyzewski, the former Army player and head coach and now current coach at Duke University, called Spiker "one of the outstanding young basketball coaches in the country.” Coach K extended his praise for Spiker by saying, “the job he did at Army over the past seven seasons was amazing. His teams play with incredible enthusiasm, paceb and toughness -- all traits that reflect Zach, who will surely make the most of this opportunity. Drexel basketball is in store for some big things under coach Spiker's leadership." With arguably the greatest coach of all time in Spiker’s corner, things should go his and Peck’s way for the next four seasons.
Photo: St. Thomas basketball Twitter account (@STHSBasketball)
-Drexel ends season with 80-70 loss against James Madison in first round of CAA tournament