Perhaps no Colorado men's basketball player needs to prove himself more during the offseason than freshman Bryce Peters. And it has little to do with his skills on the court.
To say the least, it was a tumultuous rookie year for the freshman guard from La Puente, Calif., who began, and ended, the regular season serving suspensions due to violations of team rules.
In between, Peters showed flashes of an explosive scoring ability, one that could be a huge asset next season as the Buffaloes bid farewell their top two scorers, Derrick White and Xavier Johnson — players that accounted for about 42.4 percent of CU's scoring this season.
However, following Wednesday's season-ending loss at Central Florida in the first round of the NIT, head coach Tad Boyle said Peters still has a long way to go to prove he can be reliable.
Peters was reinstated from a six-game suspension at UCF but did not play. Though he missed 8.5 games due to various suspensions (exactly 25 percent of the season) it was only the second time all year Peters was held out due to a coach's decision.
"It's everything off the floor," Boyle said. "Bryce Peters on the floor, there's no issues. Every issue that Bryce has is off the floor. It has nothing to do with his basketball ability or what he does in practice. It has everything to do with off-the-floor issues. Until he figures that out, he's going to struggle."
Peters sat out the first two games of the season, making his CU debut Nov. 17 by scoring nine points in a win against Louisiana-Monroe. On the heels of that benching, Peters told BuffZone.com:
"My off the court decisions have to get better. I understand that. And I learned from that. So now I just have to perform on the court."
However, those lessons seemingly were short-lived. Two weeks later Peters was held out during the first half of a win at Portland after missing a study hall session. In a turn of events somewhat emblematic of his season, Peters came off the bench to hit a critical 3-pointer late in that game to help seal the Buffs' first win of the year in a true road game.
Peters finally gained some traction during Pac-12 play, scoring a then-season-best 11 points on a 3-for-4 night from the floor against UCLA on Jan. 12 with his uncle, former UCLA and NBA star Tracy Murray, watching from the sideline. Given a spot start alongside four other reserves against Oregon State on Jan. 26, Peters responded by going 5-for-6 overall and a perfect 3-for-3 on 3-pointers while finishing with a season-high 15 points.
Peters also went 3-for-4 on 3-pointers while scoring 13 points in a win at Stanford that broke CU's 10-game road losing streak within the league. Peters' five double-digit scoring performances occurred during a 10-game span in Pac-12 play.
However, that encouraging on-court progress was all but erased with his late suspension, which began at Oregon on Feb. 16 and continued through the Pac-12 tournament.
"Off the floor, I don't think he's grown at all," Boyle said. "On the floor, he's grown. He's a good player. Bryce's ability and talent are unquestionable. Now, his ability to take care of things off the floor is something that is a major issue and a major concern I have that we have to figure out as we move forward."