Cranial injuries are some of the most severe and least understood hazards that athletes encounter in contact sports. When exploring the issue of these injuries, most discussions flock to outwardly aggressive sports such as football or boxing. Basketball, however, is often overlooked. It is assumed that basketball related injuries are limited to the lower body, as ankle sprains, blown knees, ACL tears, and hamstring pulls are commonplace on the court. Be that as it may, basketball can be brutal and harboring of concussive dangers in its own right. Players throw their elbows, shoulders, heads, and hips into their opponents to create space, jumping and diving without headgear or protective padding, and often doing so three feet above a hardwood floor. Arizona basketball recruit, Zach Peters, has experienced the dangers of brain injuries first hand.

Peters, a 6-10 and 240-pound Texas-native experienced his first concussion prior to his senior year of high school during his stay at the LeBron James basketball camp in 2011. A few months later, Peters experienced a second concussion while playing wide receiver for his school’s football team. Shortly after, Peters shipped out to the University of Kansas with high expectations of playing for the school’s elite basketball program. Two more basketball related concussions plagued Peters while playing for Kansas in summer exhibition play, forcing him to wear protective headgear in future games. However, in another exhibition contest, Peters absorbed an elbow to the forehead, resulting in 10 stitches in spite of his protective helmet. 

The promising forward’s body had enough. Peters began to feel post-concussion symptoms that greatly affected his cognitive ability, academic performance, and kept his body under constant strain. After meeting with doctors, coaches, and loved ones, Peters elected to leave Kansas after only one semester in order to return home to recuperate. The talented college freshman’s academic, and athletic career was shrouded in doubt before it ever had the chance to begin.

Over the next few months, Peters gathered his thoughts, took courses at a small community college, and was put through a slew of medical tests that focused on memory, cognition, and reflexes. The time away was just what the young man needed. Peters began to feel ready to suit up under a college basketball banner once more.

The University of Arizona had a promising team last spring, but when freshman Grant Jerrett declared for the NBA draft in a somewhat unexpected move, Arizona was left with a space to fill. Jerrett had been a prolific outside scorer with the ability to be physical close to the basket, and now in Jerrett’s absence, the Wildcats were left with a gap in that area. 

As fate would have it, Grant Jerrett’s strengths are also the strengths of Zach Peters, and Arizona seemed the perfect fit for the displaced freshman. Though coach Sean Miller has been adamant about bringing Peters into the rotation slowly so as not to aggravate his past injuries, the forward has a second chance at the sport he loves, and will hopefully, over time, return to his old form with no further concerns regarding his tempestuous past. Wildcat fans should welcome Peters to the program with open arms, and Peters should be proud to call Arizona home.

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