USC basketball saw their top five scorers leave after the 2020 season. Onyeka Okongwu left for the NBA, Elijah Weaver transferred to University of Dayton, and seniors Jonah Mathews, Nick Rakocevic, and Daniel Utomi all graduated.
How USC was going to replace their production was a big question heading into this season. So they figured why not get a player who can fill multiple needs at once. That’s where versatile wing Drew Peterson comes in.
After leading Rice University in total rebounds (209), assists (112) and steals (33), Coach Andy Enfield took a chance on the junior transfer. With five other players also transferring into the program, Peterson had to make his impact early and often.
Through three games, it’s safe to say he has done just that.
At 6-foot-8, Peterson is super versatile on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. He’s not going to kill you with north-south speed, but he’s great at picking angles and moving laterally.
Peterson is quick enough to stay in front of those smaller guards and long enough to switch on the bigger wings/forwards. His defensive instincts and IQ is above-average which helps him get in the passing lanes for easy steals.
Modern-day basketball is more positionless than ever before. Players of Peterson’s length can’t just guard their position anymore. Which makes his defensive versatility so much more important.
You can put him on the floor with the Mobley brothers to make it a living hell for opponents to drive into the paint. Or you can go small with Peterson at the 4 and switch nearly everything.
When it comes to offense, Peterson style of play fits in seamlessly with the team’s philosophy. USC wants to play inside-out starting with the Mobley brothers down low. This is where Peterson is really able to show off his ability.
Once the ball is in his hands, Peterson wants to attack the paint. He’s great at reading those high screens to either turn the corner and go all the way to the hoop for a bucket. Or dishing it off for an easy roll to the rim by one of the Mobley’s.
Peterson’s crafty handle and understanding of angles makes him tough to stop when driving downhill. If the defense is waiting for him at the rim, Peterson knows to kick it out to one of his open shooters.
When he’s off the ball, Peterson has good movement around the arc and is able to find the soft spots in the zone for open three-point shots. After improving his three-point percentage from his freshman year to his sophomore year, Peterson looks to be doing it again. He is currently 5-for-8 from distance on the season.
A three-star transfer from Rice isn’t supposed to be this impactful, but Peterson has been better than advertised through three games. His 14.6 points is second on the team to Evan Mobley’s 16.3 points.
If Peterson can continue to ball like this the rest of the season, we might see his name on a few NBA mock drafts come March.