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October 19, 2011

Wanted man



COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Only a sophomore at Gaffney High School, basketball standout L.J. Peak seems as though he is already a poised veteran. Why? Peak is about to enter his third season playing on the varsity team, a rare feat for a sophomore.

As an eighth grader, Peak logged minutes on Gaffney's state championship ball club. A year later as a freshman, Peak was a permanent fixture in the lineup, leading his team in scoring with a 15 point-per-game average.

This past summer, Peak became an internet sensation with his highlight reel dunks on the AAU circuit. All the early attention started to pay dividends when Peak received his first scholarship offer from South Carolina in June. Shortly after, Clemson and Tennessee both offered as well.

So what is it that makes Peak such a hot commodity this early in his high school career?

"I can get to the basket easy, I dunk a lot, and I play good defense," he told GamecockCentral.com Saturday at a fall showcase event. "I can play all five positions really. Most colleges say they like me at wing though."

Indeed, when Peak takes the court he has the versatility to line up one play at point guard and the next play in the paint backing down an opponent. This rare athleticism has drawn the attention of schools from all over the East Coast. Peak has interest from Big East, ACC, and SEC programs.

"I get a lot of mail but South Carolina, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Tennessee recruit me the most."

Peak has already visited both South Carolina and Clemson on numerous occasions for elite camps and football games. He shared his thoughts on each in-state program:

South Carolina: "They're real hard on grades and doing good in school. I like that. The school is nice. And I know Damien Leonard that plays there."

Clemson: "Their coaches are real nice. I like them and I like their colors. It's a good school too."

Gamecock assistant coach Neill Berry has played a big role in the recruitment of Peak thus far.

"He's a real nice guy," Peak stated. "He's laid back and cool. I like that. The other coaches are the same way."

Despite all the early attention, Peak made it clear that he is focused on one thing - getting back to the state championship. Recruiting and college visits will be put on hold for a while.

"Just hoping to win state," he said. "We have a better team than last year. We're working hard. I want to keep my options open with colleges until I'm a senior and then I'll decide."

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