On the same day Alec Peters was announced as the Horizon League Player of the Year, it was confirmed that the college career of likely the greatest player in Valparaiso history had come to an end.After receiving a second opinion Wednesday about his right lower leg injury, it was concluded the star senior will not be able to return this season, according to sources. He will make a full recovery, but needs more time to heal than even making the NCAA Tournament would allow.
Peters was having a season worthy of All-American status, averaging 23.0 points and 10.1 rebounds. He's Valparaiso's career leader in scoring, rebounding, field goals and free throws, and third in Horizon League history in scoring.
Peters is second in Division I in scoring among active players -- and likely would have been the leader had he not gotten injured -- and second in rebounding. His 134 straight starts -- every game of his Crusaders career -- was the nation's longest active streak.
Peters missed the last two games of the regular season, on crutches and wearing a walking boot on his right foot, as Valparaiso split road games at Wright State and Northern Kentucky to clinch a share of its fifth regular-season title in six seasons. There was hope he would be able to play in the Horizon League Tournament, but Wednesday's doctor visit ruled out that possibility.
Peters was unavailable for comment Wednesday, when he was named the Crusaders' first league player of the year award winner since Ryan Broekhoff in 2012.
Peters is projected as a first-round pick in this year's NBA Draft.
Last spring, he grappled with the decision to withdraw from the draft. He then stayed at Valparaiso -- even after Bryce Drew left to take the coaching job at Vanderbilt -- when he could've departed as a highly coveted graduate transfer.
Peters cited his desire to finish his career with his "brothers" on the Crusaders. He had visions of getting back to the NCAA Tournament -- he and the Crusaders nearly upset Maryland in the first round his sophomore season -- and winning a game or games. Valparaiso's only wins in the NCAA Tournament came in 1998 during its storybook run to the Sweet 16 that was fueled by Drew, the player Peters likely has surpassed as the Crusaders' best.
Earlier on Wednesday, Valparaiso coach Matt Lottich said the 6-foot-9 forward's status was uncertain. But when the second-seeded Crusaders (24-7, 14-4) begin the conference tournament at 7 p.m. Saturday against the winner of Friday's game between seventh-seeded Detroit Mercy (8-22, 6-12) and 10th-seeded Milwaukee (8-23, 4-14) -- and beyond -- they will be without Peters.
Peters was in contention for league player of the year both as a junior and sophomore, when Oakland's Kay Felder and Green Bay's Keifer Sykes won, respectively.
"He could've been three-time player of the year, if you ask me," Lottich said. "It's well-deserved.
"I'm hoping he's national player of the year. I think he's that good."
Peters also made the all-league first team for the third time, all in succession, becoming the first Valparaiso player to have three first-team honors since Raitis Grafs from 2001 to 2003 in the Mid-Continent Conference.
Senior swingman Shane Hammink made this season's all-league second team, and junior guard Tevonn Walker was named to the all-defensive team.
Hammink is averaging 15.8 points and was integral in Valparaiso earning a share of the regular-season conference title.
The Crusaders thought Hammink had a chance at the first team.
"I'm proud of this accomplishment," Hammink said. "It's a great honor. Am I upset I didn't make first team? Yes. But that's the way it goes sometimes."
Hammink also was a preseason second-team pick.
"Shane has done it night in and night out with consistency and with percentages, and he's been outstanding defensively," Lottich said. "He could've been first team. We're pleased with second, but he deserved a first-team nod."
Walker was chosen for the all-defensive team. He typically draws the assignment of guarding the opponent's top perimeter player.
"It's an accomplishment," Walker said. "But I feel like I can still do more. It shows how much work I've put in and it's paid off. But I don't want to stop here."
This article is written by Michael Osipoff from Post-Tribune, Merrillville, Ind. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.