It didn’t take long for Georgetown guard L.J. Peak to name the player he models his game after. Based on how Peak plays the game, it’s easy to see how his game resembles that of Dwyane Wade.
Of course, Wade is now in his 14th season in the NBA and a much different player than he was during his younger days. Peak looks at how Wade approaches the game, though, and how he can make an impact in a variety of different ways on any given night.
“He found other ways to score,” Peak told Basketball Insiders. “He wasn’t a consistent shooter, and that’s how I felt like when I started out and I couldn’t really shoot consistently. Slashing to the rim, starting from defense to offense, that’s how I really model my game.”
While Peak may not have been a consistent shooter in the early going, he’s improved significantly since then. During his freshman year at Georgetown, Peak shot just 24.6 percent from three-point range but improved that number to 40.9 percent last season and is shooting 35.1 percent this season.
The junior is currently enjoying his best season to date, averaging a career-high 16.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Hoyas head coach John Thompson III has entrusted Peak to become the team’s leader, and he appears to be flourishing in that role. He’s second on the team in scoring, fifth in rebounding and leads the team in assists and steals. He has led the Hoyas in scoring 11 times this season.
“Coach Thompson always tells me to lead the team, be the leader on the court and be the coach on the court,” Peak said. “I’m just trying to do as much as I can.”
Peak was named the Big East Player of the Week on January 16 after leading the Hoyas to wins over St. John’s and UConn. He averaged 18.5 points and five rebounds during those games. While he played well enough to earn that honor, it wasn’t his head coach who first broke the news to him.
“I really didn’t know [that I won],” Peak said jokingly. “[Coach] didn’t even tell me about it. I had to find out on Twitter; I really don’t even use it. I use Instagram.”
Peak has been instrumental in helping the Hoyas to some big wins recently. Georgetown knocked off No. 16 Creighton on Wednesday and No. 11 Butler on Saturday night, the first time the Hoyas defeated ranked opponents in consecutive games since 2013.
Peak said the Hoyas would have to play near-perfect basketball to have a chance at beating those teams. Against Creighton, they got off to a quick start and led by 12 at halftime, and they shot 72.7 percent from the field in the second half to defeat Butler. Peak recorded 20 points, five assists and three rebounds against Creighton and 22 points, six assists and three rebounds against Butler. He also hit numerous big shots to help seal the win.
He was named the Naismith Trophy Men’s Player of the Week after averaging 21 points, 5.5 assists and three rebounds last week against Creighton and Butler.
“I’m really not trying to prove nothing, but I would say just coming out playing my hardest and showing what I can do,” Peak said. “It’s kind of like proving it knowing I’m overlooked, but winning has a lot to do with it. Whoever wins at the end of the day is going to get the most recognition.”
Like Wade, Peak has found success in his ability to get to the free-throw line. While Wade hasn’t necessarily been known as a great three-point shooter, he found ways to get to the line. A big part of Peak’s game is the ability to drive to the rim and draw fouls. He is currently averaging a career-high 6.2 free-throw attempts per game, which ranks second among all players in the Big East.
It also helps that Peak has been able to convert on a majority of those attempts. He says he practices his free-throw shooting after every practice, and it shows in his 82.4 percent shooting from the line. He’s come up with numerous clutch free throws as well. Prior to Saturday night’s game against Butler, Peak had converted on 30-of-37 free-throw attempts in the final five minutes of games this season.
“[Getting to the line] puts pressure on the defense, first of all,” Peak said. “Then it allows me to use my quickness and length and explode to the rim and get the other team in foul trouble. Just going to the hole and finding the other team’s bodies and bumping into them a little bit and working on finishing the shot.”
Peak is listed at 6-foot-5 and plays at the two and three position on the floor. He was a member of the 2015 USA Basketball U19 National Team that captured the gold medal with a 7-0 record. He was teammates with several of the nation’s top prospects, like Harry Giles, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum and Allonzo Trier among others. Being around some of those top players enabled Peak to get an idea how other players approached the game.
While it remains to be seen where Peak will play next season, he’s currently projected to be drafted in the second round by DraftExpress. One area of his game that figures to translate well at the next level is his length. He measured a 6-foot-9.5 wingspan at the U19 Championship, and this has allowed him to disrupt passing lanes and contest shots. He loves the challenge of matching up on defense with the opposing team’s best player.
“I can guard anybody but the five,” Peak said. “[Being versatile on defense] gives me the best chance to be on the floor more because with teams going small, I can be able to guard positions 1-4 or 1-5 with the team going real small and putting a point-forward at the five.”
As the Hoyas sit at 12-10 (3-6 in the Big East) this season, Peak and the rest of the team will try to position themselves to earn a berth into the NCAA tournament. Three out of their final nine regular-season games are against ranked teams, including two against No. 4 Villanova.
While the Hoyas have some tough games coming up, they know earning a berth into the NCAA tournament will place them on the game’s biggest stage and a chance to receive the recognition they want.
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