Charlotte Christian junior boys’ basketball player Rob Peterson has been around the game his entire life. His father, Robert Bower Peterson II -- or better known as “Buzz” -- was the 1981 N.C. high school basketball player of the year, beating out future Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. .
The younger Peterson, 17, looks very much like his father and has a similar build at 6-foot-5 and 170 pounds. Like his father, Peterson is developing quite a game. He leads the Knights this season in scoring (13.5 ppg), rebounding (8.5) and steals (1.6). He’s second in assists (2.4). In his best game, against Queens’ Grant in November, he had 19 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals in a 62-61 win.
“I think he has a good upside,” said Charlotte Christian coach Shonn Brown, well-versed in coaching offspring of well-known fathers. At the southeast Charlotte private school, Brown also coached Seth and Stephen Curry, future NBA players and sons of former Charlotte Hornets star Dell Curry.
“Rob’s got to continue to work. He’s a kid who is always in the gym and is always wanting to put up shots. Some people can play well, but he’s got to play well consistently. You can come out and have one good game. I think if people are watching him, they’re saying can he have a string of good games?”
Never miss a local story.
Like his father, the younger Peterson has an easy smile. In high school, Buzz, who was 6-3, was a high-scoring guard. Rob is more of a small forward, but he aches for the success his father had, beginning at Asheville High .
Buzz Peterson and Jordan, both McDonald’s All-Americans in high school, attended North Carolina together, were roommates and played on the Tar Heels’ national championship team as freshmen in 1982. Peterson was chosen by Cleveland in the seventh round of the 1985 NBA draft but never played in the NBA. After college, he eventually became a head college coach at Appalachian State, Tulsa, Tennessee, Coastal Carolina and UNC Wilmington . In 16 seasons,Peterson’s record was 267-229.
Rob Peterson was around for much of his father’s years as coach, and he’s developed an intense love for the game that has been so good to his father, now a scout with the Charlotte Hornets, owned by Jordan.
“I got my work ethic from him,” Rob said of his father. “I think there might be a little pressure on me to do the kinds of things he did. I definitely think there is some, but I like it. I enjoy it, to try to live up to it. It’s difficult, you know, but it pushes me harder to do better.”
On the court, Rob Peterson often uses his body to score inside, but can also handle the ball well enough to dribble the length of the court and score. He shoots right-handed but often goes to his left on drives and to score around the basket.
“He’s passionate about the game and he has a desire to want to learn,” coach Brown said of Peterson, a Top 35 N.C. prospect in the class of 2017, according to Phenom Hoop Report. “It’s about work ethic and how you can grow with the various gifts you have. He can get up and down the floor. He can rebound. He can shoot the ball. His best basketball is ahead of him.”
Flashing that big smile , Peterson said he agrees.
“Man, it’s so hard for people to try to tell me that basketball is just a part of my life,” said Peterson, whose Knights (7-10, 0-1) will play at Cannon (13-6, 0-1) Friday in a CISAA game. “It’s been my life for 17 years. I love it so much. This year, at school, there’s more pressure on me to lead these younger guys to do better, but this is what I want to do. I want to get better. And it’s been fun so far.”
Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr