Point guard commit Peterson believes in Hoosiers #iuwbb

Kaitlin Peterson has faith.

Faith in God, faith in her coaches, faith in herself.

Last Friday afternoon, the 5-foot-9 point guard from Eufaula, Alabama, put her faith in the Indiana women’s basketball team when she became the Hoosiers’ third commitment in the class of 2021, joining 6-1 Australian wing Paige Price and 5-11 Georgia guard Keyarah Berry.

The faith is reciprocal, as the IU staff has never seen Peterson play in person.

“All they did was watch film and from there, they were like, ‘Hey coach,” Eufaula girls’ basketball coach Jermieke Cliatt said. “What separates Kaitlin from any other guard in the country is her speed. I don’t know any other players in her class with that speed. I’ll send coaches film of another player, and they ask about Kaitlin.”

Indiana did more than ask. An effort spearheaded by assistant coach Glenn Box saw the Hoosiers communicate on a more than regular basis over the past two months, be it about basketball or life.

“We heard from (Box) every day and sometimes more than once a day,” Cliatt said. “With the relationship, they took things in phases. Coach Box reached out, then two more coaches might be on the next zoom call, then the strength and conditioning coach and even the players.

“Those staff relationships were big, and one thing that stood out was the players’ conversation with Kaitlin as far as faith, so that played a part.”

With a grandmother who’s a pastor and a mom who has worked in youth ministry, faith is more than a word for Peterson.

“It’s just helped me become the person I am today, be a better person,” said Peterson, who is the highest-ranked of Indiana’s trio of 2021 commits, coming in at No. 31 for Prospects Nation and No. 44 for All Star Girls Report. “(Indiana) stayed in contact every single day, whether it was texting or calling, and I felt like I would fit there. They play fast, and I like to play fast, so I feel like I will fit.

“Plus their players, just like me, they believe in God and stuff. I’m the same way, so I feel like I’ll fit there.”

Peterson has scored over 2,100 career points at Eufaula, making a steady progression. She averaged 20.5 points, 4.5 steals, 3.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds as a freshman, earning a scholarship offer from Georgia Tech. The numbers bumped up to 21.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 4.6 steals as a sophomore.

As a junior, Peterson averaged 23.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 5.5 steals per game as a junior en route to being named first team 6A all-state and one of three finalists for 6A Player of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association, third team Al.com Super All-State across all classifications and the Dothan Eagle Super 12 Player of the Year.

In addition to Georgia Tech, she also held major offers from Vanderbilt and St. John’s among a host of mid-majors, including Wichita State, where older sister Rachel Johnson recently signed after two years in junior college.

But Peterson wasn’t looking for just any offer. She wanted the right offer.

“She wanted to go somewhere that wanted her,” Cliatt said. “It had to be the perfect fit.”

Not to mention the perfect time.

“I was going to wait longer to commit, but I didn’t want to wait too long with all the 2021’s committing,” Peterson said, “and I had been feeling like Indiana was the school for me.”

What the Hoosiers are getting is a player with a relentless work ethic who wears the No. 3, somewhat reminiscent of IU all-time leading scorer Tyra Buss.

When Peterson started high school, Cliatt described her as “all speed and right hand.”

“She cried as a ninth-grader when I told her to play the point, but I told her, ‘You’re going to be a big-time player, and I’m going to coach you hard,'” Cliatt recalled. “I get on her, chew her out, kick her out of practice, but she has that ‘it’ factor.”

As a matter of fact, Cliatt kicked Peterson out of practice before the Tigers’ 6A regional semifinal game in February, one that the formerly 5A Eufaula would lose, but not before Peterson scored 38 points.

“I know a lot of teams from the ACC and SEC were sad to see her commit,” Cliatt said. “She’s going to be a coach’s dream. She lives in the gym, and IU probably will have to give her her own key. She works out on her own, two-a-days or three-a-days. She’s a respectful, young lady who will lay it all on the court every time.”

Cliatt has laid out a goal for his former volleyball player and track athlete in every offseason.

Learn to play both sides of the ball, check.

Learn to use both hands, check.

Improve the 3-point shot, check.

“I feel like I developed using both my hands and finishing with both hands,” Peterson said. “I’ve developed my defense and shooting.

“I just need to work on my pull-up jumper.”

She’s been doing that on outside courts during quarantine, but Cliatt has one more challenge that won’t be fulfilled until the end of next season.

“I told her to do something she hasn’t done, which is lead her team to a state championship,” he said.

Challenge accepted.

“It would mean a lot, because we haven’t done it in years,” Peterson said. “And if we did do it, we would make history. We’ve never won it in 6A.”

She has faith it can happen.

Photo courtesy of Tony Darrigan, Eufaula Tribune.

20 comments

  1. Sounds like another quality player coming our way. Speed was mentioned which is always a quality not all players maintain. Her level of play improved every year she has been in high school. Her stats escalate every year, good to see! Future looks bright in Bloomington! Go Hoosiers!

  2. Sounds like big a plus for the 2021 year, all stats improved but the one I like was steals indicating a defensive presence and that could be improved even more. With Wise ,Patberg, and Penn being gone by then new leaders will need to come to the front, who will it be. Coaches count on their floor general, Would the quiet Berger be asked to step up vocally or maybe Hillary with her experience will be the one. Certainly will be interesting with all the new recruits.

  3. I was looking the cbs sporting early ranking for IU women at #16. Too bad they didnt have all their facts straight. They had Mack coming back as a starter , cant fault them too much it was like she was a starter interchanging with lex at the post. Aleksa , sorry they didnt mention you since you were a starter and greatly improved over your freshman year. Cant wait to see IU women play this winter,, hoping.

  4. Off topic, but a question for Steve or anybody.
    Won’t Mack start?
    Mack and lex played together at times last year.
    Jori left, not sure who would take Brenna’s spot besides lex?

  5. Nat– I cant imagine Gulbe and Holmes not starting , question comes as to who relieves them. Could it be Patterson and Noveroski. Will Hanna be improved enough to get those minutes. Moren last year referred to her working to improve. There is also the 6′ 5″ Wisne on the bench. Will either of those last two work in the rotation or will it be Key who gets the rotation even though smaller in size. We dont know the answer, coaches will work it out.

  6. There can be only 5 starters each game. Noveroski was a fairly solid recruit. So I think she will see playing time. Patterson will play. Key will play some. IU Ladies have some players that can play. As season plays out into a streamlined rotation who as an individual and team can play at the highest level adjustments for possible injuries or situations etc. Looks to be highly competitive and only winning will bring the most happiness with minimal disappointment and dissatisfaction realizing everyone wants to play.

  7. Waggoner will play and then there are Berger, Patberg, Penn, Holmes, Gulbe,
    and then there is Hillary??? and a couple new faces.

  8. I’m looking forward for the IU Women’s season more than the Men’s but both look promising .
    Someone on another tread noted IU Women will have a strong bench. No bench ‘warmers’ which may be an concern. Last couple of seasons I remember a number of comments regarding minimal usage of the bench. If all these ladies are as good as they sound, coaching staff may be walking a tightrope allocating game time ? What a good problem to have but could be delicate.

  9. I had forgotten Waggoner, thanks for reminding me. Hillary wont play till next year. But they do have freshman Moore-McNeil 6.0′.

  10. Chloe Moore McNeil only a freshman patience will be important. It will take some time for her game to develop and learn system at big ten level though she may play a little.
    Then, over the next two years there may be a red shirt by a player along the way. Of course there may be a transfer or two the next couple years.

  11. Just to add to the bench situation, in years past Moren has not used the bench very much. The obvious reason was there was basically no quality depth on the bench. This year it is quite obvious that there is quality depth on the bench. It will be very interesting to see how Moren uses her bench. There is REAL quality on this team that is deeper than any team Moren has had to this point! This looks to be a very interesting season due to the depth of our team. Can’t wait for the season to start! Go Hoosiers!!

  12. Since T reminded me about Waggoner it jogged my mind and I did remember that it seemed she played respectable minutes for Moren because of her length and defense. I was thinking the last 4 games, but when she actually started getting minutes was the last 6 games and in order was 3-7-11-10-12-7. For the last 4 games of season she avg. 10.0 min. , the last 5 games- 9.4 min. and if you want to count all 6 games its still 8.3 min. Not bad for a walk-on. I doubt that will drop this coming season.

  13. Waggoner as a walk on freshman played because of her defense, she is pretty sturdy, and will rebound. She is a good player. She scored in high school and maybe she can get comfortable enough to make a bucket when given the opportunity. Then, there becomes a lot to like about Waggoner’s game though I like her game anyway. Waggoner is a really good match for T. Moren and her system.

  14. According to the IU Media Guide of 19-20, Miss Basketball Jori Allen scored 1,938 points in her high school career. Grace Waggoner scored 1,834 points.
    Both played on the same AAU team.
    I think Grace Waggoner can score plenty and will play plenty, walk on or not.

  15. Nat I agree 100% about the 6 foot Waggoner. For guards off the bench there is the senior K. Warthen and two sophomores, C. Wilson & G. Waggoner along with another 6 footer freshman Chloe Moore-McNeil (2598 points). That’s a solid supporting cast.
    Overall this Hoosier team will be a tough match up for most teams in the upcoming season.

  16. Though she was a freshman Jori Allen found the transition from high school to college more challenging the role she played for her than Waggoner. Waggoner improved and played with confidence and grew into being comfortable. I think Waggoner will get more comfortable scoring. She is pretty athletic and has a good toughness about her. Waggoner is basketball smart and moves around a lot. She is going to be hard to beat out of minutes for on the bench non starting guard play.

  17. I believe most of those mentioned were career pts leaders at their respective schools, Allen, Waggoner, and McNeil, but the college is a step up many are not quite ready for. Another thing about G. Waggoner is like Buss was a track star at her school. Because she has stuck it out Key will get her senior minutes, but G. W. has made an impact with Moren and Staff and will get hers. So this year we get McNeil and Patterson added to the fray, then next year will come Hillary, Price, and Berry. Competition for minutes may get fierce. Hopefully Wilson can get past her injury problems.

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