Rice is on Peterson's collegiate menu
That didn't take a long time.
Once Libertyville's Drew Peterson decided to make official college visits following his senior basketball season, the 6-foot-8 guard/forward wasted little time making his choice. He chose Rice University on Tuesday, verbally committing to Owls head coach Scott Pera after he and his parents, Michael and Stacey, visited the Texas campus over the weekend.
"I made the visit and I really liked it, so I committed," Peterson said.
Pera announced Wednesday on Rice's website that Peterson signed a national letter of intent.
"Drew will be a great addition to Rice University and our basketball program," Pera said. "He is a highly motivated student and a terrific basketball player. He checks every box in what we are looking for as we continue to build toward the future.
"On the court, he has a unique skill set for a guy his size. He can play multiple positions and is a terrific passer as well as a long-range shooter. He had an outstanding senior season and racked up a ton of accolades. He joins a class that we feel will help us take this program back near the top of Conference USA in the coming years. This is a great day for Rice basketball and we can't wait to get Drew and his classmates on campus this summer."
Rice was the first school Peterson visited officially since his high school career ended.
"(Academically), it's a top-15 school," Peterson said. "Academics was a big part of this. I wanted to be able to set myself up for the future, and also (the basketball staff) told me I can make a huge impact coming in as a freshman. Obviously every kid wants to hear that. It's just a great opportunity for me."
Peterson waited a long time to accept a scholarship offer.
While many high-profile seniors either made a verbal commitment or signed a letter of intent before the start of the season, Peterson decided to play out the campaign. He estimates he had about 16 offers, including those from Loyola, Princeton, Yale, Tulane and William & Mary. His only other official visit was to William & Mary, located in Virginia, in the fall.
"Coming off AAU going into the fall, I wanted to really focus on my senior year and end on a good note with that," Peterson said. "I didn't feel like I had enough time to make the decision. I wanted to make sure I was 100 percent. I didn't want to be even 99 (percent)."
Peterson, who plans major in economics and minor in business, put together an all-state season in his third year on varsity. The Lake County captain of the Daily Herald All-Area team averaged 24.3 points per game, leading the Wildcats to 19 wins and a Class 4A sectional berth. His buzzer-beating 3-pointer lifted Libertyville to an overtime win over Conant in the Deerfield regional final. He had seven 30-point efforts, including a career-high 37 against Waukegan.
"Drew will go down as one of the top players to have ever played at Libertyville," Wildcats coach Brian Zyrkowski said. "He is very talented and is an extremely tough player to defend as he can shoot from anywhere on the floor as well as see the open teammates when defenses are focusing on him."
On his visit to Rice, which is located in Houston, Peterson met with the basketball staff and academic advisers, and got a tour of the campus. He also hung out with the players, including former Stevenson guard Connor Cashaw, who was his host. Cashaw, who just finished his junior season, played against Peterson's brother, Conor, in high school.
"We talked a lot about the conference and how he played against my brother," Peterson said. "He's a great guy. He was their best player, and he'll probably be their best player next year."
Peterson could be a boost to Rice, which went just 7-24 (4-14 C-USA) this past season. He knows gaining weight and getting stronger are priorities, however.
"It's just a great relief to figure out where I want to go," Peterson said. "I've been talking to a lot of the freshmen that are incoming. It seems like a great group of guys, and I'm just ready to make the next step in my life."