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Positive growth potential

After moving cross-country, Ryan Peters will get his shot in Division I

Posted: April 26, 2009 9:30 p.m.
Updated: April 27, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Northfield Mount Hermon's Ryan Peter's transferred from Valencia High in 2007. After two years in Mount Hermon, Mass., Peters will play for Lehigh University.

 
At the start of the 2004-05 boys basketball season, Ryan Peters was a nondescript high school newcomer playing for the freshman team at Valencia High School.

At the start of the 2009-10 college basketball season, Peters will suit up as Lehigh University's point guard of the future.

His road to a Division I basketball scholarship has been paved with five years' worth of maturation and one foot's worth of growth.

And it turned out to be 3,000 miles long.

Peters left Southern California after his junior year in 2007 to enroll at Northfield Mount Hermon School in Mount Hermon, Mass., a move that he felt provided him more career opportunities.

"I was just looking to open up more doors," Peters says. "At the Mount Hermon School, I felt I could do more stuff here. I needed the extra time to finish growing and maturing."

Northfield Mount Hermon's boys basketball program has sent more than 50 players to Division I schools over the past decade, and Peters is the latest.

After arriving at Valencia High School at a modest 5-foot-4, Peters grew a full foot by the start of his senior season at Northfield Mount Hermon, a four-year period that included Peters repeating his junior year after transferring.

Now blessed with an athletic 6-foot-4 frame, Peters isn't about to get lazy.

"As far as the hard work goes, I think being smaller earlier on, that's what I had to do," he says. "I was putting in a lot of hours back home. When I came out here, I teamed up with (NMH alumnus) Dave Rufful, who put me through the whole weight room thing. From there, it's just become an everyday thing."

Basketball and weightlifting helped Peters keep busy while adjusting to life on the East Coast, which he had never visited before he transferred.

Peters lives in the dorms on campus, which are close to the gym. After living with a roommate chosen at random during his junior year, he is rooming with teammate and Louisville commit Mike Marra this year.

A majority of the students at Northfield Mount Hermon are from the Northeast, but some of them hail from other regions of the United States and even other countries.

Peters says he didn't have any trouble getting along with them despite the different backgrounds.

He did, however, notice the change of scenery.

"The whole area is covered in forests and trees," he laughs. "I'd never seen so many trees in my life. Basically, you concentrate on school work and sports."

It didn't take long for Northfield Mount Hermon coach John Carroll to notice Peters' efforts.

"He was a scrawny, skinny kid who had big, big aspirations of being a Division I player," Carroll says. "We expected him to be our starting point guard on our JV team in his junior year. He was relentless in the weight room and relentless in the gym. He worked himself into a position on our team."

The Diamond Hoggers went 18-10 in both of Peters' seasons, reaching the first round of the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council playoffs in 2007-08 and the quarterfinals this past winter.

Peters averaged a modest 4.3 points and two assists this past season but shot 67 percent from inside the arc and played excellent defense.

"I think I can shoot the ball very well," he says. "I can play (point guard) or (shooting guard). My biggest strength is possibly my defense. I'm more of a physical guard. I can contain people in the halfcourt."

Peters developed his varied skill set by playing with the Double Pump Elite travel team last spring and summer, and he got to showcase his talent during open sessions held on Northfield Mount Hermon's campus, which were attended by coaches and scouts from Division I programs.

Representatives from Lehigh noticed Peters during his junior year and were impressed with his game. Peters visited the school in mid-March and felt it would be a great fit.

The Mountain Hawks felt the same way after re-evaluating their team this season, and offered Peters a scholarship.

"It's different for every kid," Carroll says of the recruiting process. "He's a very specific kid with very specific skills. Lehigh needs someone who's going to work hard and dictate that to a lot of his teammates, and be a backup point guard and learn to take it over as a sophomore."

There's more to the decision than athletics, however.
Peters is interested in becoming an orthopedic surgeon, and another reason he transferred to Northfield Mount Hermon is the science curriculum.

"The science classes here are really strong," he says. "I've seen kids getting into Ivy League schools. It was just a lot more challenging at prep schools like this. When we get to college, it's a lot easier than it is for someone, maybe, from a public school."

Lehigh is renowned for its pre-medical track. The class of 2003 had an 88 percent acceptance rate when applying to colleges in the Association of American Medical Schools, according to Lehigh's Web site.

Given his personality, Peters' career choice doesn't surprise Carroll at all.

"I can see him having a really good bedside manner with some people," Carroll laughs. "We're an international school, and Ryan does not close doors to anybody on campus. It makes perfect sense, once you think about it."

It also makes perfect sense considering Peters' work ethic, which helped turn a short freshman at Valencia into a mature young adult ready to take the reins of a Division I basketball program while studying medicine.

"I think I kind of felt that I needed this," Peters says. "I didn't have a doubt in my mind that I could come out here and do what I needed to do."

Once Carroll saw what Peters was about, he had no doubt, either.

"Kids understand what our program is before they get here, and they're prepared to work at a much higher level than they've worked before," Carroll says. "They feel they're not getting pushed enough where they are. He's in a really elite category with his commitment and the time he's spent on his body and his mind and his game."


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