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September 26, 2013

Arizona F Zach Peters cleared to play immediately

Sean Miller said at Wednesday's media day that he expected a decision from the NCAA as soon as the next day on Zach Peters' petition to play immediately.

As part of a sarcastic rant, apparently the Arizona head coach was not kidding.

Peters, a 6-10 transfer from Kansas, was cleared to play immediately Thursday instead of being forced to sit out a season, Miller said via his Twitter account Thursday. Peters, who did not play a single game for the Jayhawks last season, will have four years of eligibility.

"Today's news from the NCAA is very exciting for Zach and his family, as well as our basketball program," Miller said in a statement. "There was a lot of effort and cooperation that went into this waiver process. We'd like to thank the NCAA, the University of Kansas and many members of the Arizona Athletics family for their tireless efforts to make this a reality.

"To this point, Zach has participated with us and we're still in the process of him returning to full competition and contact. Zach has made tremendous progress in his time at Arizona, and we're optimistic that with continued improvement, that time will come in the near future."

Peters left Kansas after a series of concussions dating back to his days as a high school football player. There were times he also had to wear a protective helmet in practice.

He left Lawrence, Kan., on good terms - Kansas cooperated with his petition to the NCAA - and returned home to Plano, Texas, to undergo a series of tests. After doubts that he would ever play basketball again, Peters gave it another shot and the Wildcats showed interest.

"It was really the players that got me," Peters said of his decision to choose the Wildcats. "I immediately connected with most of the players."

Peters said he would "casually" talk with Miller about his pending status with the NCAA. Every time, the answer was that there was no answer.

Peters was patient, saying that "we've still got time," but Miller was more annoyed with the process. During his press conference, Miller said the NCAA was "0 for 5" in meeting a deadline to make a decision and that he had "no rhyme or reason" to be optimistic about hearing anything different in the immediate future.

Miller even joked that the NCAA would likely miss a sixth deadline, too.

"It's probably as simple as one person picking up a piece of paper, walking 50 feet and dropping it on a desk," Miller said. "And that person picking up the paper, looking at it and putting a checkmark in the corner. But we're not there yet."

Well, they are now.

Speaking hypothetically, at the time, Peters said that if he were to be cleared then it would still be a matter of doing "full-speed, contact" drills. But he added that he is "up to speed with everything else."

"I think I'll be cleared here to play contact in the next few weeks," Peters said. "I really don't think I'm going to miss a beat."

Once on the floor, Miller said Peters has the capability to space the floor with his perimeter shooting. While roles throughout the playing rotation have yet to be determined, Miller said Peters could be a contributor down the line.

This season, he will likely compete with Matt Korcheck, a JUCO transfer who voluntarily redshirted last season, for a role off the bench.

"I don't know if Zach is going to be a guy that plays 37 minutes (a game) if he's eligible, but I know this - being a contributor, being a part of the rotation no question, that would be a solid piece," Miller said.

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Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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