Alec Peters knew that he had a golden opportunity to make one final impression during his rookie year in the NBA on Tuesday night.
The former Valparaiso star did just that, scoring a career-high 36 points and knocking down eight 3-pointers to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 124-97 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
While Peters has shined in the NBA G-League for much of the season, he entered Tuesday’s regular-season finale having scored just 46 points in a NBA uniform, including a then-career-best eight points against Golden State on Sunday.
"We have eight guys that were available and I knew that I’d get my opportunity to go out there and play," Peters said. "Someone had to be the one to get going and I knew I had to do something right. Luckily it was just one of those nights for me."
Peters became one of the hottest stories on the penultimate night of the NBA season as the former Valparaiso star began trending nationally on Twitter as he scored 24 of his 36 points in the second half. Peters joined MVP candidate James Harden as the only player in the NBA this season to have at least 35 points, eight rebounds and eight 3-pointers in a game.
Peters drew high praise from Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. The former Indiana head coach said that Dallas "had trouble stopping Larry Bird dressed up as Alec Peters."
The second-round draft pick finished his rookie year averaging 4.1 points and 1.9 rebounds in 20 NBA games. Peters spent much of the year playing for the Northern Arizona Suns of the G-League where he averaged 17.6 points over 35 games while shooting 41.1 percent from the 3-point line. Peters ultimately appeared in 55 professional games.
"It definitely feels weird to now be first done playing in April," Peters said. "It's been a long year, but I also wish we were still going for another month and a half like these playoff teams. The goal is to keep playing late in the year. I hope there’s a lot of basketball like that in my future."
Peters will take a couple weeks off before returning to Phoenix for offseason conditioning next month. He signed a one-year, 2-way contract prior to the start of last season which will expire on June 30.
"Free agency starts on July 1 and that’s when I’ll find out what is in store for me," Peters said. "I’ll get back to Phoenix in May to start working and getting ready for the summer league. I’m excited for that. The summer league is where a lot of things can happen. I don’t want this last game to be a one-hit wonder. I’m striving to be consistent and keep working."
Valparaiso roster moves: Marten Linssen became the second member of Valparaiso’s freshman class to announce his intentions to transfer. The German native averaged 2.0 points and 2.0 rebounds in 7.4 minutes of reserve action over 22 games.
Fellow freshman Parker Hazen announced his intentions to transfer last month and both players have been granted their release by the school. Linssen’s departure leaves the Crusaders with three open scholarships after incoming freshman Daniel Sackey officially signed his national letter of intent on Wednesday evening.
“I’m early on in the process right now and haven’t decided where I’m going to go,” Linssen said. “This year was hard (with playing time) and I wanted the opportunity to be able to play more next season. I thought it might be more of the same. I had a great time at Valpo. I took huge steps as a basketball player, coming to a new country and opening up my personality.”
Sackey committed to the Crusaders earlier this year and made his signing official on the first day of the late signing period. Known as a lightning-fast point guard, Sackey was ranked No. 16 in Canada by North Pole Hoops this season.
"Daniel is an exciting player who brings a unique combination of skill and athleticism," Valparaiso coach Matt Lottich said in a statement. "He is a blur in the open floor and creates numerous opportunities for his teammates. Daniel has a natural ability to lead, and will excited the Valparaiso community for years to come."