More than three months after the season ended, Jasmine Peete is still trying to wrap her mind around the numbers she put up for the Pacific Union College women’s basketball team this winter.
The 6-foot-3 center had a breakout campaign for the Pioneers, one that launched her into the conversation of greatest players in program history with two years left to play.
Although PUC had another rough season with a 1-23 overall record, Peete shattered multiple single-season and game records. Her 41-point outburst at La Sierra in Riverside and 30-point game at Cal Maritime in Vallejo are 1-2 atop the single-game marks in program history, unseating the previous high of 29.
She racked up 10 double-doubles, tying for the single-season school record, and made 62.9% of her shots, which not only blew the previous school record of 45.2% out of the water but was also ranked as the second-best nationally in all of NAIA Division 2.
Overall, she also averaged team highs in points (15.9) and rebounds (9.4), and was a first-team all-conference selection.
“I was kind of shocked too looking back at it,” Peete said by phone from her home in Riverside, where she’s finishing her sophomore year with online classes. “I didn’t really realize I did all that. I’m still kind of shocked.
“At the beginning of the season, if someone had said I was going to do that I wouldn’t have believed them.”
That’s because a year prior, Peete had been in a very different place. As a freshman at PUC, she had still been working her way back onto the court physically and mentally from a serious shoulder injury that had derailed her high school career. The colleges that had previously recruited her in high school went silent after she got hurt, and she jumped at the chance to play when PUC offered her a scholarship her senior year.
Peete has so far made the most of her time in Angwin. She’s been able to rediscover her game and confidence while getting healthier and stronger. This past season was the most comfortable she said she’s felt playing basketball since her junior year of high school, before she separated her right shoulder.
“I think I kind of re-figured it out this year,” she said. “I kind of got back to who I am as a player. Junior year of high school I was pretty well-known in my area and I felt pretty good about where I could go, but then I got hurt and everything kind of changed. It took me a while to get back to this.”
Now, as she prepares for her third collegiate season, she has a chance to both go down as an all-time PUC great and help lead her program into a new era.
“I believe if she continues on the way she is and stays healthy,” said George Glover, head coach of PUC’s women’s team, “she will surpass the school record for total points in a career at PUC.”
Just like Peete when she looks back at her season, Glover has a difficult time wrapping his mind around Peete’s 41-point, 17-rebound game against La Sierra, a performance that stands as the third-highest scoring game in conference history.
“I saw the shots she made, but the point total just blew me away,” he said. “Her shooting percentage, the amount of points she scored, the amount of rebounds she had – it just blew me away that she did that. All our mouths just dropped when we saw her stats at the end of the game.”
True to her efficient form, Peete made 17 of her 21 shots that game, a school record for most made shots in a game, and did so in front of friends and family. La Sierra University is only a 6.5-mile drive from her alma mater, Centennial High School, creating a raucous atmosphere for Peete’s career night.
“I kind of wanted to put on a show,” Peete said. “I just wanted to play really well, but it was frustrating because at the start I wasn’t playing well because I was so nervous about messing up. Then we came out after halftime and I remember I just went off. It was probably the most fun game I’ve ever played.”
Peete’s reign of terror inside the paint didn’t end that night until she fouled out late, which undoubtedly helped the Eagles pull away for the 97-90 win in overtime.
Glover still looks back on that night and thinks “what if?”
“There’s no telling what she could have done that game if we kept going to her, but we had other players with wide-open shots and I tell players to take those shots,” he said. “We could have fed her all game and she could have had 60 points, easy, if we had kept going to her because she was in that kind of rhythm.
“She kept saying ‘Coach, I’m hot! I’m hot!’ And I was saying, ‘I know, I can see that.’”
By that point in the year, Peete had already established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the California Pacific Conference. That game simply put an exclamation mark on her career season.
It was also an important step in Peete’s journey working to get back to the player she was growing up in Riverside.
From humble beginnings, learning the game from her dad on her hoop at home and at the local YMCA, Peete quickly became a notable player at a young age in her area. By the time she had established herself as Centennial High School’s starting center as a junior, she was also spending her summers traveling around the country with an elite AAU team on the Nike EYBL circuit, running alongside and against future NCAA Division I players.
Peete’s first taste of varsity ball was as a sophomore at Centennial when, in just 12 games, she grabbed the third-most rebounds on the team and chipped in around 8 points per game. She upped those numbers her junior year to team-highs of 11.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.
Things were going well for Peete. Several college programs, like UC Riverside and the University of Denver, were interested in her and her notoriety was only increasing as she continued to improve on the AAU circuit.
Then, one fateful summer day, Peete fell awkwardly on her right arm during a tournament game and her life changed. She had separated her shoulder, an injury that didn’t require surgery but did mean months of intensive physical therapy that kept her out for most of the Huskies’ preseason practices.
“I didn’t move my arm for like three months,” she said. “I was all slinged up.”
When the sling came off, Peete stayed off to the side of Centennial’s practices working with the school’s trainer to relearn how to use her right arm.
“I’d be doing stretches, trying to slowly raise my arm up and bring it down,” Peete said. “It was a lot of learning how to do basic stuff, working to get the motion back.”
Peete worked her back onto the floor, but she was not the same player she had been before the injury. The coaching staff at Centennial noticed it, too, and her place in the rotation soon belonged to someone else. Instead of ending her high school career in a blaze of glory, her minutes, points and rebounds all dropped to career lows. Most colleges also stopped reaching out, no longer interested in a damaged product.
“That season took a lot of my confidence away because I wasn’t playing normal minutes, which is understandable now because I wasn’t where I needed to be,” she said. “But at the time, it was very frustrating because I went from a starter to a benchwarmer really quick.”
“I think there was a lot of doubt with me that I would ever be able to get back to where I was. I had to learn how to shoot again and how to move my arm and rebound.”
When PUC first took notice of Peete, the program was actually scouting players on the team that Centennial was playing against. But standing about 6-foot-2 at the time, Peete was who stood out on film.
Glover said he was impressed with her skill around the basket, especially her agility and footwork, for her size. She moved better than most bigs in the CalPac and had an old-school playstyle that Glover quickly became enamored with. He reached out to her high school coach, went down to see her play, met her family, had her up for a campus visit to PUC, and secured her commitment shortly thereafter.
While Peete said she still struggled with lingering shoulder pain her first year at PUC, she still averaged team highs of 10.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game and was a second-team all-conference selection. That was an important step in getting her swagger back.
“I got second-team all-conference freshman year so I knew I wasn’t that bad,” she said. “I was like, ‘Jasmine, don’t be so hard on yourself.’ … Our assistant coach tells me to play like it’s practice because he says I go really hard in practice because I don’t care about my mistakes. So I think when I started to figure it out was when I realized don’t beat yourself up over things, which I used to do a lot my freshman year. That doesn’t help anything because then you start missing more because you’re thinking about it too much. It was just a mess.”
The season Peete just posted should be proof enough that she’s quickly returning to form, and that should be a scary thought for the rest of CalPac.
“Even her sophomore season we’re still scratching the surface with her,” said Glover. “She’s performed at a really good level, but she has even more to offer and CalPac hasn’t seen it yet. It’ll be interesting to see her move forward and her progression from her sophomore to junior season because she’s gotten more comfortable with the league and more comfortable with the competition.”
Part of why Peete said she’s felt so at home at PUC, a Seventh-day Adventist school, is because of the role faith plays in her life.
“I believe everything happens for a reason,” she said. “I’ve always tried to keep a positive attitude with this. God put me at PUC for a reason and I may not understand it now, but hopefully I will later.”
As she nears the end of her second year in college, that reason may be coming more into focus. Peete is currently studying Emergency Medical Services and wants to go into healthcare to use her experiences with pain and injuries to help others. She’s also realizing now that at a small school like PUC, she’s able to put more focus on her academics.
“I definitely want to help people, probably orthopedics because I’ve endured a fair share of injuries playing basketball,” she said. “So, I think I could help people that way.”
While winning games hasn’t been one of the strong suits of PUC’s women’s program, Peete and other young players like freshman Olivia Crigler have given Glover some pieces to build around. He said he speaks to other CalPac coaches regularly and Peete is always a topic of conversation.
Though their record was worse this year than it was her freshman year, Peete noted that the Pioneers played in more close games this year than last but have simply struggled to close games out. Heading into her junior year, she’s confident the team can start to fix some of those issues.
“I think we shocked a lot of schools this year,” she said. “There were a lot of games this year where we were within five to 10 points at halftime, which I’m sure a lot of teams weren’t expecting. That, to me, showed that we were doing better than my freshman year.
“I’m excited for next year because Coach said he has some really good players coming in. I’m really trying to get some more wins on the record.”
Contact Gus via phone at 707-304-9372 or email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustGusMorris.
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