Eufaula, originally did not want anything to do with the position.
Her head coach at Eufaula High School, Jermieke Cliatt, said Peterson “cried like a baby” when he told her as a ninth grader that if she wanted to start, she would have to play point for the Lady Tigers.
With still a year to go on the high school level, Peterson is all smiles today after committing early to play her college basketball for the Big Ten Conference’s Indiana University Hoosiers.
The 5-foot, 9-inch Peterson was the Dothan Eagle’s Super 12 Player of the Year as a junior and a finalist for the Alabama Class 6A Player of the Year.
She averaged a Wiregrass-area best 23.7 points per game as a junior, leading EHS to a 25-7 record. She also averaged 7.1 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 5.5 steals a game, while maintaining a grade point average of 3.4.
Peterson had entertained offers and/or interest from Alabama, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Troy, South Alabama, Georgia Southern, East Tennessee State, St. John’s, East Carolina, Jacksonville State, Grambling and Southern Miss.
“(Peterson’s) original plans were to wait after the AAU summer games, but a lot of them were canceled (due to the COVID-19 pandemic).” Cliatt said. “College coaches couldn’t be there for the ones that were still playing. They were just going to have to watch via live stream. Kaitlyn was not planning to commit but she wasn’t going to play AAU because of the travel involved at this time.
“Kaitlyn was probably one of the last of the top players in her class to commit. One school, I believe it was Vanderbilt, told her that they had filled all of their commitments.”
Nevertheless, Indiana was extremely active in recruiting Peterson via Zoom. While IU never saw her play in person, the coaches watched her on film. That was enough, Cliatt said.
“What’s so good about this is Indiana is a perfect fit,” Cliatt said. “It was still a long strategic recruiting process. We had several Zoom meetings with one, two or three coaches, academic counselors, strength and conditioning coach, even with players. They began building a relationship with her.”
Indiana is coming off a 24-8 season in which the postseason was canceled. The Hoosiers crushed Florida in Gainesville, 73-49, and beat No. 5 South Carolina, 71-57.
“Indiana is a basketball state,” Cliatt said.
“The key to Kaitlin maximizing her talent is coaching her hard, which is just what she wanted. I kicked her out of practice late in the season because I felt she wasn’t going as hard as she could. She was going as hard as anybody else, but not as hard as she could go. She came back the next night and scored 38.”
Indiana has a roster filled with players from all over, including Spain, Latvia, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, New York, Maine, Florida and Georgia.
“God is first to Kaitlin and Christian values are big to the Indiana team,” Cliatt said. “It’s bigger than basketball. They also like to run and gun. That’s their style.”
The Hoosiers are led by head coach Teri Moren, and assistant Glenn Box played a big role in Peterson’s recruitment.