For those who primarily watch the NBA, Alec Peters may not be a familiar name. But for those who keep up with the college game, Peters is as much a part of the mid-major landscape as anyone. The senior has been the cornerstone for a Valparaiso program that has become one of the better mid-majors during his time on campus. During his career, Peters has averaged 16.8 points per game on 49/43/82 shooting splits, and pulls down nearly seven rebounds per game. This year, Peters already has scoring outbursts of 23 and 36 points in Valpo’s first two games.
It wasn’t a given that Peters would spend his senior season at Valparaiso, or even in college basketball at all. Peters declared for the 2016 NBA Draft, went through the evaluation process, but was able to return to school due to the NBA’s new early entry rule. There was speculation that Peters would follow Bryce Drew to Vanderbilt, but ultimately he opted to return to the Crusaders for one last ride.
Currently, Peters is projected to be an early second-round pick in next year’s draft by DraftExpress. He’s rated as the No. 6 prospect in the senior class, but will have to overcome the notion that younger players are more valuable assets to NBA front offices. Nonetheless, Peters will have his entire senior year to prove to GMs that he’s worth a look.
If there’s one thing that Peters does better than anything else, it’s shoot. With the NBA becoming an increasingly perimeter-oriented game, being able to score from the outside is a necessity. Peters is a career 42.6 percent shooter from three-point range, and is doing so on over five attempts per game.
Peters projects as a stretch four in the pros, but doesn’t have the typical size or athleticism that other NBA power forwards have. Peters makes up for this lack of athleticism by having a quick release that he can get off from anywhere on the floor. He thrives in pick-and-pop situations, and makes defenders pay when they don’t close out fast enough.
He’s also able to utilize a solid face-up game when working out of the post. At only 6’8 and 225 pounds, Peters isn’t able to physically overpower opposing bigs. He relies on his quick release and shooting off the catch to combat longer or more athletic defenders.
Also, as is the case with any senior, Peters has an elite feel for the game. It’s cliche, but Peters truly has an understanding of how to make an impact. He picks his spots effectively, and is a solid team defender despite his physical limitations. In the NBA, there’s value in just knowing how to play, and Peters provides that.
Peters’ biggest weakness has been made clear at this point: he lacks elite athleticism for an NBA forward. He’s been able to overcome that against the competition in the Horizon League, but he will have to find ways to compensate for that lack of explosiveness at the next level.
This could become a particular problem on defense. If he’s matched up against power forwards, they will likely punish him on the glass and around the hoop. If he gets matched up against small forwards on the wing, they will blow past him, or knock down open shots if he leaves too much space. Also, Peters has been a solid rebounder at the college level, but the size and athleticism of an NBA frontcourt will be tough to overcome.
One way that NBA defenses can defend Peters is with a hard close out, making him put the ball on the deck. Peters is skilled for a forward, but can struggle at times making plays and shots off the bounce. He will need to make defenses pay for running him off the three point line.
Overall, Peters can make a good case for being worthy of a draft selection. In the NBA, unless you’re a superstar, it’s better to have an elite skill rather than a bunch of average ones. Peters provides that with his shooting. As teams continue to construct rosters that are perimeter oriented, Peters can fill the role of a stretch four off the bench. If Peters continues to showcase his all-around offensive skill-set this season, it’s likely that an NBA team will select him in the early-to-mid second round of the draft next summer.