Ex-Libertyville star Peterson ready to zoom to Minnesota
It suffices for families and friends wanting to get together, employees working from home ... and college athletes who are transferring.
When a pandemic makes it difficult to zoom on highways, we use Zoom.
"It was a really eye-opening thing for me," former Libertyville basketball star Drew Peterson said of videoconferencing. "I think it's actually a really effective format for recruiting."
Peterson announced a month ago that he was leaving Rice University after playing two seasons of basketball for the Owls. Almost immediately, numerous coaches from high-major conferences contacted him.
On Monday night, he announced on Twitter that he was transferring to the University of Minnesota, despite having never been on the Minneapolis campus.
"They were on me from Day 1 when I was in the (transfer) portal, and I felt really good with my relationship with the staff," said Peterson, a 6-foot-8 guard/forward who will play for head coach Richard Pitino. "I really liked the guys they had coming in (fellow transfers Liam Robbins, 7-foot center from Drake, and Brandon Johnson, 6-8 power forward from Western Michigan), and I think they have a really good opportunity to make some noise. It's a good academic school as well, so all of those (factors) led to me committing there."
With college campuses closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Peterson had a Zoom conference with Pitino and his staff. They gave a PowerPoint presentation on all things University of Minnesota and Golden Gophers men's basketball, complete with video clips and background music. Peterson was recruited by Pitino, who's the son of Rick Pitino, and associate head coach Ed Conroy.
"I think what's underestimated is how easy of a process the whole virtual tour was," Peterson said. "You basically get to see everything you see on an official visit -- all the facilities, the campus, the academic side. Even for the future (post-pandemic), if you can't get guys out to campus, a quick, two-hour, virtual tour visit can almost do it justice."
Peterson averaged 11.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in a breakout campaign for Rice this past season and has two years of eligibility remaining. The NCAA is expected to vote May 20 on whether to allow a one-time transfer waiver. If the NCAA votes yes, Peterson can start playing for Minnesota next season. The Golden Gophers went 15-16, including 8-12 in the Big Ten, this past season.
"Coach Pitino wants me playing right away if I'm able to," said Peterson, who can play point guard, shooting guard and small forward. "If not, it's not the worst scenario. It's a year of development and another year to get ready. I'm honestly good with either option."
While Peterson has never met Pitino in person, Minnesota was one of the first schools to contact him after he made the decision to leave Rice.
"I've been up in that area for AAU tournaments, and it's the Midwest so I know the climate," Peterson said. "I know the area and I know people who go to school up there. I've heard really good things about Minneapolis too."