Early Monday morning, as his teammates trickled into Comcast Center for their third 8 a.m. preseason practice, Roddy Peters was already on the court, shooting around with a student manager, dribbling hard then pulling up for mid-range jumpers. He stroked two, three, four in a row, each shot perfect just like the last.
The Suitland native eschewed Georgetown and Kansas, among others, to enroll at his state’s flagship institution. Peters is seen as Coach Mark Turgeon’s point guard of the future, a hyper-athletic slasher with the length and talent necessary to carry Maryland for years to come. But the main knock against Peters came from his outside shooting, and he’s hell-bent on fixing that.
The impetus for this change?
“I’m going to say, majority of it is Roddy,” Turgeon said. “Then taking form shooting and instruction, very little instruction, maybe 30, 45 minutes over summer tour then individual work, then working extra on his own, coming in here with a manager, getting extra shots up.”
His form, Turgeon said, changes with range, but Peters has already revamped himself since arriving in College Park. A hotly recruited four-star prospect from Suitland High School whom ESPN.com ranked as the state’s best high school player, Peters enrolled this summer amid plenty of questions at his anticipated position. Pe’Shon Howard, the presumed incumbent starter, transferred to Southern California, so sophomore Seth Allen assumed the role and Peters became the backup.
He’s put on weight and added muscle, so he “likes taking his shirt off now,” Turgeon said. But he keeps reminding Peters that, even with a more confident shooting stroke, the Terps need him to facilitate and attack the rim, not bombard defenses from the outside. Allen, Evan Smotrycz and Jake Layman can handle those duties. At times this summer, Turgeon would approach his star freshman point guard and offer some reassurance. “It’s not Suitland anymore,” he said, by way of emphasizing that Peters needs not worry about scoring for the Terrapins. At least, not yet.
“He’s just a bully,” Turgeon said. “When he’s going to the rim, he knocks people over to get there. He’s really smart, not charging people. He’s physical, can get to the rim. So we need a slasher. We’ve got Dez [Wells] as a slasher, Nick [Faust] is becoming a better one. And Roddy can do that too, especially on the break. Roddy’s really good on the break. But he does not need to shoot every time he’s open, unless he’s made the one before. He really needs to run our offense and we keep trying to tell him that. He’s aggressive, real aggressive on the break.”
One member of a small two-man recruiting class alongside Damonte Dodd, Peters has fully healed from offseason shoulder surgery. As a senior at Suitland, he spent nights shooting inside an empty Comcast Center, changing into workout gear and performing drills with a friend after at least one Maryland game last season, as reporters watched from press row.
Turgeon knew what he was getting with Peters, who averaged 23 points per game as a junior and developed a reputation as the area’s most lethal guard, but still found himself surprised at the freshman’s motor.
“I knew Roddy was really good,” he said. “But he had a gear I never saw. I thought he was a fourth-gear guy, but he kind of gets into fifth gear and I never knew he had that. And he still does it under control. He’s got good vision. He’s young, he gets out of control a little bit.”
This led Turgeon into his one criticism of Peters, something that, in the long run, is quite fixable and not that concerning: He’s too hard on himself.
“He’ll make a mistake, it’ll affect the next two or three plays,” Turgeon said. “That’s usually with freshmen. So we have to grow out of that as quickly as we can. Practice it’s a bit easier, but when the games start will he be able to move onto the next play?”