Men lose signee to junior college
Janis Peterson thought a lot about where she wanted to spend the final two years of her college basketball career after her plans to play for San Jose State fell through more than a year ago.
The 6-foot-1 guard, who was among the top players in California during her two-year junior college career, wanted to leave the state and find a school where she felt at home, not to mention teammates and coaches with whom she felt a connection.
That place turned out to be North Texas.
Peterson confirmed Thursday night that she has signed with the Mean Green and is in the process of finishing up the final classes she needs to be academically eligible at UNT.
“I’m in a position where I’m going to be where I want to be,” Peterson said. “When I took my visit to North Texas, I felt so comfortable and built a good connection with the coaches. They will be able to help me get my degree and get somewhere in basketball.”
Peterson has already built quite a resume as a college player after playing her first two seasons at City College of San Francisco. She was the 2010-11 California Junior College Co-Player of the Year as a freshman when she averaged 22.6 points a game and the Northern California Junior College Player of the Year as a sophomore, when she averaged 17.9 points per game.
Peterson originally signed with San Jose State but did not meet academic requirements to transfer to a Division I school and had to sit out this past season.
“At the very beginning, it was very tough for me, but I started working out with the team at Diablo Valley and treated it like a redshirt year,” Peterson said. “I was able to work on a lot of things and improve.”
UNT had an open spot on its roster at the time and found out about Peterson because of a connection assistant coach Wesley Brooks has with Ramaundo Vaughn, the head coach at Diablo Valley, a community college in Pleasant Hill, Calif.
“Coach Vaughn told me about her,” Brooks said. “I saw a video of her and said, ‘Oh, my goodness.’ I showed the tape to [UNT head coach Mike] Petersen, and he said we absolutely need to go after her.”
UNT brought Peterson in for a visit and introduced her to Alexis Hyder, a sophomore forward who earned third-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors last season. The two immediately formed a connection.
“Alexis is awesome,” Peterson said. “She showed me around and made me feel really comfortable.”
Petersen believes his newest recruit will be a key addition.
“Janis will give us position flexibility and more scoring and length on the perimeter,” Petersen said. “She is a long athlete who can run, score and hit 3s. She can also cover ground defensively and has a really diversified skill set.”
Those skills are ones that Petersen believes will help UNT continue to make the transition to playing in his up-tempo system. UNT showed signs of progress in its first year under Petersen, running off five straight wins in January, taking Alabama to triple overtime and falling by three at then-No. 13 Oklahoma.
“I like the group we have coming back,” Petersen said. “The thing Janis adds to it is another proven scorer who can make shots. In our sport, players who can make shots are really valuable.”
Nunn will head to JC
Tony Nunn, a member of UNT’s 2013 signing class, will enroll at Odessa College for the upcoming season and is no longer part of the Mean Green’s immediate plans, head coach Tony Benford said Thursday.
Nunn spent last season at Oldsmar (Fla). Christian Academy and struggled with injuries.
“It was mutual,” Benford said of the decision. “He feels like he needs to go play right away because he didn’t play this year. There is a possibility he could come in next year.”
UNT assistant coach David Anwar has a relationship with Odessa head coach Tra Arnold and played a key role in placing Nunn at the school.
UNT is scheduled to have 12 players on its roster without Nunn heading into next season, one short of the NCAA limit.
Benford said UNT will look to fill that slot in the next few days and could sign two more players.
All of UNT’s players who have eligibility remaining and are scheduled to return are set to be on the roster next season, said Benford, who left open the possibility that UNT could go over the NCAA scholarship limit of 13 temporarily.
“The scholarships will work themselves out,” Benford said. “We have 12 now and will have 13 on the first day of school.”
UNT’s recruiting class has undergone a series of changes over the last few months.
UNT picked up early commitments from Arthur Casimiro, a center from San Bernardino Valley Community College, and Anthony Norris, a forward from Midland College, but neither ended up signing with UNT.
UNT filled the void the loss of Nunn, Norris and Casmiro created in part by adding a few players late, including George Mason transfer guard Vertrail Vaughns and Cincinnati transfer Kelvin Gaines.
“In college, if you look around, recruiting changes all the time,” Benford said. “There are 400 kids who transfer every year and a lot of times kids commit early and don’t work out.
“I don’t think there is any doubt that it worked out. We added more than we lost on the perimeter, and we have gotten bigger and more athletic inside.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 or via Twitter at @brettvito.