Like most 21st Century basketball love stories, Ryan Peters’ passion for hoops started as a toddler with a Little Tikes basket and a Nerf Hoop.
Fifteen years — and countless hours of honing his roundball skills on the driveway of his family’s Canton home and in gyms throughout southeast Michigan — the personable Salem High School senior-to-be is rocking on the basketball court, lacrosse field and in the classroom, where he has earned a weighted grade-point average of 4.2.
The Salem-blue sky is the limit for Peters, who averaged a team-high 17 points per game for the Rocks as a junior.
The 6-foot-1 guard combines top-shelf ball-handling skills, net-ripping mid-range shooting and high-octane defensive effort.
“I still remember playing basketball on a Little Tikes Hoop with my brother Zack, who is four years older,” Peters recounted. “He usually crushed me every time we played, but it was still fun. Playing against someone older than me actually helped me in the long run.”
Peters enjoyed playing basketball, football and lacrosse as a youth, but hoops quickly elevated to the top of his list of favorite activities.
“What I like best about basketball is the feeling of freedom — you’re not tied down to a stick or to a set scheme where you play a couple seconds and then there’s a break until the next play,” he said. “I love basketball because it’s a free-flowing game with ongoing action.
“My game improved not necessarily by doing a bunch of drills, but by going out on my driveway for hours and just playing. I’d play for hours, imagining myself as a player in a game. The more I played, the better my skills became.”
Peters said he learned from watching film featuring his favorite NBA players: Derek Rose, Donovan Mitchell and Jimmy Butler.
“I like watching shorter guards — 6-3 or smaller — who are athletic and have good mid-range shooting skills,” he said.
Most memorable game (so far)
Of the hundreds of games he’s played since taking on his older brother as a pre-schooler, Peters said probably his most memorable is the Rocks’ victory over Plymouth in the first round of the 2023 Division 1 district tournament at Plymouth.
Peters scored a team-high 25 points, but said he got more satisfaction out of the team’s achievement than any individual stats.
“That was the third time we beat Plymouth last season, which is hard to do, so I was happy for the team,” he said.
Peters, the son of Michael and Hanan Peters and older brother of Ethan, said Zack was his initial inspiration to try lacrosse when he was in fourth grade.
Following his recently-completed 2023 spring season for Salem, Peters earned All-State Honorable Mention honors for his play and was a member of the acclaimed All-State Academic Team.
“Zack started playing when he was young, so he’s the one that got me into it,” Peters shared. “I enjoyed it right away. But if Zack had never played, there’s no way I ever would have tried it.
“Lacrosse isn’t a mainstream sport in this area yet, so you almost have to know somebody who plays it to get into the sport.”
Peters said his athletic and academic success would never have been possible without the support of his family.
“Honestly, I can never remember my parents missing one of my games — and I’ve played in a lot — unless my dad had to miss one for work,” he said.
Basketball, lacrosse comparisons
Although the spheres used in both sports are dramatically different size-wise, Peters said the two sports have quite a few similarities.
“Especially with defense because it’s important to play help defense in both sports — it’s called sliding in lacrosse,” he said. “And teams play both zone and man-to-man.
“Offensively, there is screen-setting in both sports, which creates opportunities for pick-and-rolls.”
Academically, Peters said he enjoys all subjects, but science tops the list.
“I give my mom a lot of credit for my academic success,” he said. “I’ve never really struggled in school, but in middle school she emphasized the importance of finishing my homework, studying for tests and just being prepared.”
Ultimate dream, other options
Ultimately, Peters would love to play college basketball (he has been getting some looks from college programs, he revealed), but if that doesn’t work out, he’s primed to pursue a degree in bio-medical engineering — or a related field — at a school like the University of Michigan or Purdue.
“If I don’t play college basketball, I’m definitely going to play intramurals wherever I go,” he said.
Because the Basketball Jones he developed firing up jumpers at a Little Tikes Hoop all those years ago will always flow in his sports-loving bloodstream.
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