Peoples a constant contributor in historic senior class
Michael Bryan | Thursday, March 18, 2010
While he may not have the accolades or numbers of classmates Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson, senior guard Jonathan Peoples has been a constant contributor to the winningest class in Notre Dame history in Big East play.
Peoples has played in every conference game for the Irish during his four years with the team and is very aware of the achievement.
“It means a lot to say that we did something like that,” Peoples said. “We’re always going to be remembered as the winningest senior class.”
The senior captain is averaging a career-high 18.3 minutes per game this season but has played a key role for Irish coach Mike Brey and Notre Dame from his freshman year.
A Bellwood, Ill., native from St. Joseph High School, Peoples was recruited by Brey after averaging 15.2 points per game his senior year. After the Irish extended a scholarship offer, Peoples quickly accepted.
The transition to Notre Dame was both exciting and challenging for Peoples.
“It was everything I expected, everything I heard about. Beautiful campus, the people here are great,” Peoples said. “I didn’t know about parietals, I was kind of heated about that. It was a great experience my freshman year though.”
In the basketball program, Peoples had to make adjustments to 6 a.m. practices.
“The workouts in the morning had me, I just couldn’t get through it for the first two months, and I was getting a little home sick,” Peoples said. “Being around the older guys like Colin Falls, Rob Kurz, Russell Carter, they helped me adjust quickly.”
While Peoples was learning from the experienced upperclassmen around him, he was still seeing time on the court as a reserve, appearing in all 16 Big East contests. Peoples played six minutes of time in Notre Dame’s appearance in the NCAA Tournament, where the Irish were upset by Winthrop.
Peoples minutes and impact continued to grow through his sophomore and junior seasons when he became one of the first players off Brey’s bench. The guard played in all 33 contests sophomore year and earned his first career starts his junior season against Marquette and Pittsburgh.
“I finally got the opportunity to start my first college game, and I was happy,” Peoples said. “I was kind of nervous, but happy at the same time.”
Evolving into a veteran leader by his senior year, Peoples was named a captain by Brey along with classmates Jackson and Harangody.
“He’s smooth, he can score, he can shoot the ball lights out,” Jackson said. “He’s a great guy and he knows how to play basketball.”
Peoples was slotted as a guard in the starting lineup at the beginning of his senior campaign but has entered into a sixth-man role since the emergence of junior forward Tim Abromaitis. Still, Peoples has played a career-high number of minutes for his career and is hitting 3-pointers at a 40.8-percent clip.
“My jump shot has gotten a lot better. I’m more of a defender now,” Peoples said.
Peoples had the best performance of his career off the bench this season, scoring 23 points and grabbing six rebounds in a win over Providence.
While it looked like Peoples and Notre Dame had little shot of reaching the NCAA Tournament after a losing skid and the loss of Harangody to injury, the team put together a remarkable six-game winning streak to close out the year and return to the Big Dance for the third time in four years.
“It’s been a battle. I think we stayed together as a team but we lost games by not doing a couple little things,” Peoples said. “We still have to prove something.”
Peoples and the Irish will look to prove they can advance to their first Sweet 16 of their careers starting against Old Dominion at 12:25 p.m. today.