A lot of guys would’ve given up. And it would’ve been understandable. You don’t make the basketball team as an eighth grader. You try out again in ninth grade and, again, you don’t make the team.
It takes a special kind of determination or stubbornness or both to keep going. I also takes a great love for the game.
And Wesley Peters did just that. He kept after it. He kept working.
As a sophomore, he made the Bryant High School team. Though he didn’t play a lot for the varsity, there was improvement against the competition in JV games. As a junior, he played in spots for the varsity and contributed some quality minutes as the season went along.
In 2014-15, as the only senior on the team, Peters started most of the games and wound up having an impact throughout the season and, by the end, he was the team leader, a calming effect and had a big-time role in the Hornets reaching the Class 7A State Tournament.
“He was just very, very solid,” said Hornets coach Mike Abrahamson. “He defended, rebounded, handled the ball, made shots, made it to the free throw line, made free throws. You knew you were going to get his best and he was going to do a little bit of everything for us. That’s invaluable when you don’t have to wonder what someone’s going to give you on a given night.”
Peters came a long way and now he’s going even further.
Acknowledging the role of his folks, his friends and coaches in helping him to keep going, Peters signed a letter of intent on Thursday to continue his education and basketball careers at William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa, this fall.
“I always thought that I was going to play in college, even after the setbacks,” he stated. “It just made me go harder.
“You’re going to get out what you put into it,” he said regarding basketball. “It’s like a relationship. You’re going to love it sometimes and you’re going to hate it sometimes but if you hate it that means you once loved it. It’s just the relationship with the game that I like.”
“Wesley’s the definition of a self-made player,” said Abrahamson. “He has worked and worked and worked and he’s our standard now for work ethic and putting in extra time and extra work.
“He has spent so many extra hours in the gym making himself a good player, a college-level player,” the coach added. “I’m just so proud of him for what he’s made himself into as a basketball player.”
“I was considering Lyon College in Batesville and Grambling in Louisiana,” Peters said. “The coach (John Henry at William Penn) emailed me and said he’d seen me play. He sent me his information. After that, we just texted and I went on a visit in June. They offered me when I was on my visit and I signed.
“It’s far but I like it,” he noted. “They have my major, Psychology, and they take it serious. The student-to-teacher ratio is pretty low so I get to have one-on-one time with my teachers if I want to.
“The coach reminded me of Coach A. He was interested in my future and he cares about me graduating — more that just basketball,” Peters added.
The 6-1 guard came to Bryant after eighth grade at Pulaski Heights and ninth grade at Maumelle.
“At first, it was tough because I didn’t know anybody except my cousins,” he recalled. “It was hard playing in a system with somebody that actually cares about the game, because they test you to see how much you really love the game. I guess I passed.”
And one of those cousins, Dezerea Duckworth, is also attending William Penn and played in more than half her team’s games as a freshman last year.
“They’re getting a hard worker and they’re getting a good person, a high-character person, a leader, and someone I hope will have a good career,” Abrahamson said of Peters. “He’s a big strong guard. He doesn’t turn the ball over and he can shoot it. And he can defend his position.
“I’m going to miss him and our team’s going to miss him,” he concluded.