Courtesy of Ohio State Athletics
Arizona is a long way from home, but former Buckeye basketball player Danny Peters still finds himself surrounded by familiar faces.
Peters, a New Albany, Ohio, native, is a graduate assistant for the men’s basketball team at the University of Arizona. After Peters’ senior season in 2010, former Ohio State assistant coach Archie Miller contacted him to gauge his interest in coming to Tucson, Ariz.
“Archie called me and said: ‘Hey, I want you to come out here. You’re eventually going to get into this, so why not start now?'” Peters said.
Miller was an assistant coach under OSU coach Thad Matta from 2007 to 2009. He left to join his brother, Sean Miller, who is the head coach at Arizona. Archie Miller is now the head coach at Dayton.
Peters said he wanted to stay at OSU, but there weren’t any positions available on Matta’s staff.
“Arizona is a special place too,” Peters said. “It has a great following, the resources there are second-to-none and the whole West Coast wants to be a part of it.”
His desire to get into coaching didn’t just start on a whim after a phone call from a former coach.
Peters’ father, Dan Peters, has coached at the collegiate level for 32 years, including five years as an assistant at OSU, from 2005 to 2009.
With the inherent time constraints that come with coaching, Danny Peters said he bonded with his father over basketball.
“If I wanted to go shoot, it was because he was going to the gym, so he worked with me,” Danny Peters said. “As I got older, we started talking X’s and O’s and recruiting. Now it’s evolved into a coaching relationship.”
Dan, now the director of basketball operations at Akron, told The Lantern he originally advised his son not to go into coaching.
“Initially the advice was to become a doctor or a lawyer, much more stable professions,” Dan said. “But because his passion for the game and people were evident after a while, it wasn’t surprising that he decided to become a coach.”
Danny joined his dad in Columbus for the 2005–06 season, where he spent the year as a student manager. During the 2006–07 season, Danny was placed on the active roster as a walk-on player.
Then-guard Eddie Days played with Danny during the 2009–10 season, after he himself walked on.
“I’ve known him since my freshman year,” Days said. “All the walk-ons — me, him and Mark (Titus) — we were all close.”
Danny left his mark on the OSU record book as well, being a part of 110 victories, tied with Titus for second most at the school.
While the Club Trillion blog founder, Titus, gained all the notoriety for sitting on the bench, Peters made an impression on his teammates despite rarely stepping on the floor.
“He studied the game a lot and paid real close attention to detail,” Days said. “I think he’ll make a great coach.”
Peters said he has a two-year contract with Arizona. He has to attend school and can’t recruit, but he is allowed to perform other activities typical for a coach, such as scouting and working with players in practice.
“Danny does a great job with our players in getting extra shots and workouts in during the offseason,” said Ryan Reynolds, director of basketball operations at Arizona. “They know that he is here to help them get better as a player.”
During Danny Peters’ first season at Arizona, the Wildcats entered the NCAA Tournament as the fifth seed, upsetting both fourth-seeded Texas and No. 1 seed Duke, before losing to Connecticut in the Elite Eight.
The team loses only one senior from the 2010–11 squad, and hopes to retain leading scorer and tournament standout sophomore Derrick Williams. Regardless, Danny said he has high expectations for his second season in Tucson.
“They’ve tasted success, and now they want more,” he said. “They were a 3-point shot away from getting to the Final Four, and that’s not good enough for them.”