George McClure saw Roddy Peters in an open gym before his sophomore season and knew the wiry point guard was a Division I player. Damon Handon had similar thoughts after watching Peters dominate Prince George’s County High School competition throughout his junior year.
As recently as four months ago, however, McClure – Suitland High’s boys basketball coach – and Handon – D.C. Assault’s general manager – were in the minority when it came to assessing Peters’ game. Just one Division I program – St. Joseph’s – had offered Peters a scholarship heading into his summer on the AAU circuit with Handon’s program.
When Peters finally hit the big time over the summer and landed offers from several high-major schools – including Maryland – he still managed to float somewhat under the radar locally as the Terps chased Aaron and Andrew Harrison. But 12 days after the five-star twins committed to Kentucky, Peters finally got his day in the spotlight by pledging to the Terps.
“It feels real good that the process is over and everything,” said Peters, who also considered scholarships from Georgetown, Kansas, Memphis, Rutgers, Seton Hall, UCLA and Xavier. “[Maryland is] where I always wanted to play.”
Growing up in Forestville, Peters idolized Juan Dixon and cheered on the Terps each winter. The 6-foot-4, 180-pound point guard called Maryland his “top school” in January as Terps assistant coach Dalonte Hill began monitoring his progress. McClure, meanwhile, was reaping the benefits of Peters’ perceived snubs from colleges.
“It’s been a blessing that he’s been kind of under the radar. It’s kept him hungry,” the Suitland coach said. “In basketball these days with the internet, a lot of these young men, they get their name put out there early on. He wasn’t one of those young men coming out of high school. He maybe felt a little bit behind, a little under the radar. But when it all came together, it really, really came together. I’ve never seen a kid make the jump he made over the summer in a long time.”
Peters’ ascent started before his summer with D.C. Assault. He averaged 23 points. 5.2 assists and 2.4 steals as a junior, including 30.5 points per game during the Rams’ four-game playoff run. Handon, whose Under Armour-sponsored program has featured several high-major lead guards – including Tyler Thornton (Duke), Quinn Cook (Duke), Eric Atkins (Notre Dame), Jerome Seagears (Rutgers), Nolan Smith (Portland Trailblazers, Duke) – made adding Peters to his roster for the spring and summer his top priority.
“I watched him play almost every high school game he played last season. At that time I felt like he definitely had what it takes to be high-major,” Handon said. “We knew that. And I think a lot of people on the national level didn’t realize it until they watched him play during the spring and summer.”
With D.C. Assault, Peters picked up right where he left off with Suitland. The tipping point in his recruitment came during the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va., where Peters did battle with several higher-rated guards and came away with his fair share of victories. The confidence Peters – now ranked the No. 39 prospect in the country according to Rivals.com – gained from his performance in Virginia was invaluable.
“That’s why it was easy for him to go to Maryland in spite of Maryland going after the [Harrison] twins so hard,” Handon said. “Part of what makes Roddy the player he is right now is he played with a chip on his shoulder, which I think is a good thing. You’re talking about a lot of kids, maybe a year ago, two years ago, rated in front of him that he’s been able to pass. I think that’s refreshing to see that.”
Even though Maryland’s recruitment of the Harrisons was one of the most public pursuits in the country, McClure and Handon said the Terps pushed hard for Peters after offering him in July. Handon credited Hill – a former D.C. Assault coach – with “keeping the relationship” between Maryland and Peters strong.
"[Maryland] did offer Roddy and they told him that, even if the twins committed, they would still take him,” Handon said. “In my opinion, I think [Hill] played a big part in this. I really do. He was ... probably one of the first high-major coaches to go see Roddy last year at Suitland. He was recruiting Roddy all the way through the whole thing with the twins."
Immediately after the Harrisons picked Kentucky nearly two weeks ago, the collective attention of Maryland fans turned to Peters, who admitted that Kansas’ offer, in particular, gave him some pause.