Heading into his final season at St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes, point guard Gavin Peppers was known for filling it up after averaging 14.5 points per game for the Saints as a junior. He scored 20 or more points five times, including a 31-point outing against Georgetown Prep.

But the scoring wasn’t translating into wins as the Saints finished at .500 (13-13) and 3-7  in IAC play. They were also bounced in the first round of the IAC tournament by Episcopal.

While Peppers’ scoring numbers have declined this season (9.5 points per game) his assists numbers are up from two per game in 2012-13 to 3.8 per game. And the No. 11 Saints (9-3, 1-0) look primed for a deeper run in the IAC tournament in February.

“I’ve been extraordinarily pleased with Gavin,” Saints coach Ronald Ginyard said. “He’s learning how to get teammates involved, and the balance of scoring and passing has been a major improvement for him.”

Ginyard also raved about the the guard’s commitment to defense as he often times defends the opposing team’s best guard. Tuesday, he was given the assignment of Episcopal (7-5, 0-1) standout Greg Malinowski. Malinowski scored 20 points but the Saints grabbed the 67-52 win at home.

“I like the challenge, and I played against him before,” Peppers said. “It was a team effort though, he had a great game but we kept him off his game with a lot of team defense.”

The 6-foot-1 Peppers is receiving interest from Niagara, Eastern Kentucky, Liberty, Robert Morris and others but is still waiting on an offer that is likely to surface with his play this season.

Peppers enrolled at the Alexandria private school last season after two seasons at Montrose Christian just as Ginyard was transitioning as the Saints new head coach. They first met when Peppers was 8-years-old at longtime DeMatha Coach Morgan Wooten’s basketball camp at O’Connell.

With the two already familiar with one another, Ginyard has been able to quickly improve Peppers’ play as a floor leader. It’s also helped that Peppers has players around him like Loyola (Md.) recruit Cam Gregory (14.5 ppg), Colin Goss (8.3) and Travis Light (7.4), who can score double-digits any given night.

“He’s motored me into being a better point guard,” Peppers said of Ginyard’s coaching. “I struggled at first, but now it’s easy, because I’m playing with a lot guys who can fill it up. I feel like we’re unknown and we are working to get respect.”