C.J. Peeters wanted to parlay his experience at Central Lakes College into an opportunity to advance his basketball career.
On Wednesday, Peeters accomplished his mission when he signed a letter of intent to play at Jamestown (N.D.) College, an NAIA school.
"Personally, I think it's a great fit," he said. "I have an opportunity to go in there and play. They have good coaches, I hit it off with them right away. That's half the battle, get a coach you like and understand and be on the same page with.
"I think I've got a great opportunity to do something there, build a resume and in the future possibly go overseas (and play). They've got a few connections. That's an opportunity I want ... It's a great offer. I couldn't pass on it."
Between academic and athletic aid Peeters will have all of his expenses paid for and play in a program that went 11-17 overall last season, 4-10 in the Dakota Athletic Conference. Before the 2008-09 season, the Jimmies had won four of the last seven DAC titles.
"We graduated seven guys," said Jamestown coach Jeff Trumbauer, who attended the signing ceremony Wednesday at CLC. "We had a little bit of a rebuilding year this past year, but we think we'll be pretty strong, and certainly C.J. is going to help us a great deal."
In two seasons with the Raiders, Peeters helped CLC win 45 of 62 games, MCAC state and Region 13 championships and play in the NJCAA Division III national tournament.
As a sophomore at CLC he was all-conference, all-state and third-team All-American. He helped the Raiders to third place in the state tournament and averaging 16 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals.
As a freshman, Peeters was the national tournament's freshman of the year. He averaged 12 points, 6 rebounds and almost 4 assists and was all-conference and all-state.
"He's a very talented ballplayer," Trumbauer said. "He can do a lot of things. He's got good size, 6-6, 210 pounds. For us he can play a lot of different positions.
"What was most impressive to me was not necessarily his size or athleticism but his unselfishness. He's a very good passer, almost to a fault where he's looking to set up teammates before he looks for himself. He has that rare combination of skill and a team-first attitude.
"We're going to enjoy his personality too, he's got a fair amount of personality. That's something that our team lacked. It's going to be nice to see him interact with our guys. I think he's going to have a lot of success at our school and in the conference, and we're excited to be part of that."
Russell said Peeters was the first All-American in his 11 seasons at CLC. He said Peeters is an "unbelievable" player and person.
C.J. Peeters of Brainerd and Central Lakes College signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Jamestown College next season while Jimmies coach Jeff Trumbauer (left), CLC coach Jim Russell and Peeters' mom, Pam, watched. Steve Waller
"People always have high dreams and high expectations, and I think that's awesome," Russell said. "When I get my guys prepared for the next level, wherever that might be, the No. 1 thing is if the school can get paid for that's good. No. 2, you want to go somewhere where you're comfortable, where you know you can relate to the coach and have fun while doing it.
"That says a lot for C.J., to go to a place where he knows he'll be comfortable, a place where he's going to be taken care of, and he wants that responsibility of being the star of the team."
Peeters, who plans to major in teaching and become a coach, lauded his CLC experience .
"I don't think I would be anywhere near where I am right now without being here," he said. "I grew a lot as a person, as a ballplayer, maturity wise, and confidence-wise."
Peeters' final game as a Raider will be in an all-star game for NJCAA All-Americans at 5:30 p.m. April 25 in Odessa, Texas.
"I just never thought I would be an All-American, I never thought I would be going to Texas for an all-star game," he said. "It's just unbelievable right now. I can't thank Jim Russell enough, I can't thank the program enough. It's worked out pretty well."
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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