Draft prospect LJ Peak: "I want to guard the best player every night"

Draft prospect LJ Peak: "I want to guard the best player every night"

Interview

Draft prospect LJ Peak: "I want to guard the best player every night"

When LJ Peak announced that he was leaving Georgetown to declare for the 2017 NBA draft, he made it clear the decision was about supporting his family. Peak has a young son and he’s very close with his mother. Playing in the NBA would achieve a lifelong goal, but he’s just as excited about the opportunity to provide for his family.

“Hearing my name called would just be a dream come true,” Peak told HoopsHype. “I’ve worked toward this my whole life and I’ve been waiting for this moment. And I know my mom will be proud. I just want to make her happy.

“I just want to see my family happy and I want to do right by them. We don’t need flashy stuff or anything like that, I just want to be able to support them. This is all for my family.”

Peak started turning heads when he was attending Gaffney High School, where he averaged 38 points and 10.5 rebounds. He won two South Carolina High School League 4A state championships, and he was named South Carolina’s Mr. Basketball.

“It felt good,” Peak said of his high school dominance. “My teammates had a lot of confidence in me and they told me to shoot the ball every time I got it, and my coach was with it, so I guess it was the right thing to do.”

Rather than stay at Gaffney, Peak decided to join Jahlil Okafor at Whitney Young High School in Chicago, where they won a Chicago Public High School League championship. Peak also won a gold medal with USA Basketball at the 2015 FIBA Under-19 World Championship.

He reportedly received offers from programs like Connecticut, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State and South Carolina among others, but he ultimately committed to Georgetown.

Peak significantly improved in each of his three seasons with the Hoyas. As a junior, he averaged 16.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.1 steals, while shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 32.7 percent from three-point range.

It’s worth noting that he shot 40.9 percent from beyond the arc as a sophomore, which suggests that – with some work – he can develop into a solid shooter if put in the right position. Peak admits that his improving three-point shot is his main focus during pre-draft training.

“That’s my main focus this summer: shooting the three ball well,” Peak said. “I think I’ve already come a long way and I’m ready to show that.”

He’s also ready to show off his stifling defense in pre-draft workouts. At Georgetown, Peak displayed his defensive versatility by guarding multiple positions and covering a ton of ground. He’s excited to match up against his draft peers because he’s confident he can shut them down.

“I think I can stand out in pre-draft workouts with my defense,” Peak said. “Most people can’t guard others the way I can. I’m a great defender; I think that’s my biggest strength.

“I’m really excited for the workouts. This is something I’ve been dreaming about ever since I was a kid, and I’m ready to attack it full force.”

At the next level, Peak wants to give opposing scorers nightmares.

“I want to guard the best player every night and make it really tough for him to score,” Peak said. “I’m going to be following him everywhere he goes. And I’m going to be playing the passing lanes too.”

Peak stacks up well alongside his fellow shooting guards in this draft class.

Among the two-guards projected to be selected, Peak ranks sixth in points per game (16.3), second in assists (3.5), fourth in true shooting percentage (.60), fifth in points per possession (1.11), seventh in steals per game (1.1) and seventh in points per play (.98). Peak is currently being projected as a late second-rounder, but it’s still early in the process.

While he has shown glimpses of the player he can become, Peak is the first person to acknowledge that he has a lot of work to do at the next level in order to maximize his potential.

“I’m nowhere near my peak, I still have a lot of room to grow,” Peak said. “I think I can still get better in every aspect of the game, so I’m just going to keep working and keep improving.”

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