Valparaiso's odds of staying atop the Horizon League increased on Monday when star forward Alec Peters announced he would conclude his college career as a Crusader. Peters told CBS Sports that he would not reunite with Bryce Drew at Vanderbilt, despite the rumors that surfaced after Peters withdrew his name from the NBA Draft last week.
BREAKING: Alec Peters told @CBSSports that he's returning to VALPO next season. Huge news for the Horizon League.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) May 30, 2016
Peters has been one of the most dominant players in the Horizon during his three years at Valparaiso. He's averaged 16.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game over the course of his career, including a career year in 2015-16, when he posted 18.4 and 8.4, respectively. Peters earned First Team All-Horizon League honors last season for the second time in his career, and was an Honorable Mention All-American.
With the departure of Oakland's Kay Felder to the NBA, Peters should be the preseason favorite for Horizon League Player of the Year in 2016-17.
Peters' return is crucial to Valparaiso's aspirations of getting back to the NCAA tournament. The Crusaders made it two years ago, but fell to the Maryland Terrapins in the Round of 64. Last season, the Crusaders were upset in the Horizon League tournament, but had a strong enough resume to earn a No. 1 seed in the National Invitation Tournament. Valparaiso validated its success through the first four rounds, but fell 76-60 to George Washington in the title game.
Now, a new era begins at Valparaiso with Matt Lottich taking over as head coach after Drew's departure. Having an All-American-caliber player like Peters will go a long way toward the Cruasders not just making the NCAA Tournament, but making some noise.