Since arriving in Chicago he's taken in a Bears exhibition game and eaten Portillo's hot dogs. Soon, L.J. Peak will experience city basketball in the Chicago Public League.
Peak, a 6-5 junior, is officially enrolled at Whitney Young, completing a rumored transfer from Gaffney High School in South Carolina. While word spread about a potential move to Whitney Young, there was still much up in the air late in the summer with the Chicago teacher's strike and looking at other potential high school options in Chicago.
The decision to leave Gaffney had been mulled around by Peak and his family for over a year. There were two other key players who left the basketball program and recently transferred out of Gaffney for various reasons. When it came to the possibility of moving to Chicago, the family had a cousin who lived in the city and who was a Whitney Young graduate.
"We needed a change from where we were," says L.J.'s mother, Lynette Peak. "We were going through a lot and thought it would be good for the family to move at this time. We said, 'Let's do this. Let's try this and get a fresh start and experience something new."
Combine the connection with family in Chicago and the idea to start fresh somewhere new, along with all that Whitney Young offers academically, socially and culturally and the choice became clearer as to what high school to attend.
Already boasting one of the top five players nationally in the Class of 2014 in 6-11 Jahlil Okafor, along with highly-regarded 6-9 junior Paul White, Peak gives coach Tyrone Slaughter another top national talent to coach over the next two years.
"This puts us in a different category than before he arrived," says Slaughter. "It's obviously a really nice addition. He's a kid with good size, athleticism and really adds to our scoring and will help us defensively. Plus, he really knows how to play. He's going to allow us to do a lot more things on both ends of the floor."
Peak, who is ranked No. 67 in the junior class by Rivals.com, No. 49 by Scout.com and No. 55 by ESPN.com, played this past weekend in the Mac Irvin Back to School Jam. His talent and understanding of the game is clear. Peak knocked down a couple of 3-pointers and looked at ease getting to the basket off the dribble and is an exceptional finisher at the rim. When the City/Suburban Hoops Report puts together its updated Class of 2014 player rankings, Peak will likely be among the top five prospects in the junior class.
"What I do think the two years at Whitney Young will provide L.J. is an opportunity to be a student-athlete in preparation for college," says Slaughter.
With the return of Okafor, White and junior point guard Miles Reynolds, the Dolphins were already poised to be a top five team in the state this coming season. With the addition of Leak, Whitney Young now has four of the top juniors in Illinois playing together for the next two seasons.
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