Tech’s Zachery Peacock: The best sub in college basketball

It's hugs all around for Zachery Peacock, who's a key player on a good team. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

It's hugs all around for Zachery Peacock, the shooting star. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Zachery Peacock is 6-foot-8, 235 pounds. Judging from body type, you’d guess his basketball model would be Paul Silas or Maurice Lucas or the Mailman. Guess again.

OK, enough. You’ll never guess.

Zachery Peacock’s model: J.J. Redick.

And it makes sense, kind of, if you watch Peacock play. He’s a big man with a little man’s touch. This isn’t to say he has Redick range, but if you’re looking for the power forward with the sweetest stroke … well, he plays for Georgia Tech.

It was fitting that the loudest hosannas thrown Peacock’s way this season came from Mike Krzyzewski, who coached Redick. “He could start for a lot of teams,” Coach K said, speaking the frigid day Peacock scored 11 points, including the go-ahead basket on a putback of Mfon Udofia’s air ball, in leading the Jackets past Duke. But rebounding isn’t necessarily Peacock’s pride. Shooting is, and he can really shoot.

About Redick, whom he watched on TV while growing up in Miami: “It was so amazing, how almost all of his shots almost always went in. So I thought, ‘If could imitate what he does …’ ”

Peacock arrived at Tech four months after Redick played his final collegiate game. To this day, he has never seen Redick in person. But the jump shot, which was J.J.-inspired but wholly self-taught, is homage enough. The big man is the most reliable perimeter shooter Tech has. Says Peacock: “I feel like my range extends out to the three-point line. Maybe one step beyond that.”

He’s never shy about hoisting, not even with a game on the line. He had the go-ahead follow against Duke, the winning jumper against North Carolina, and his free throws — he was fouled going to the hoop — took down Clemson. He had a chance to seal the Florida State game on Sunday but missed the front end with 26 seconds to play and the Jackets leading by a point. Which is OK. Even Mark Price missed the occasional foul shot.

The greater point: When Tech needs to score, the ball finds Peacock. He has great faith in his ability to make a shot. He’s a senior, and he has seen college basketball in a way the freshman Derrick Favors, who supplanted Peacock as a starter, has not.

And that’s OK, too. Every good team needs an off-the-bench force, and Peacock is the best sub in college basketball. (Think not? Find someone better.) He averages 9.9 points, fourth among Jackets, and he has done this while averaging only 22 minutes, sixth-most among Jackets.

Peacock didn’t intend to become the Sixth Man of the Year. (Not that the college game bestows such an award, though it should.) He was a starter as a junior and planned to start as a senior. “I thought, ‘We’ve got a freshman coming in, so I’ll do what I’ve got to do to maintain my starting position,’ ” he said. “Initially I never planned to come off the bench.”

He has re-calibrated nicely. Peacock changes games just by entering them. He says he doesn’t check in with the thought of shooting the first five times he touches the ball. “I go in with the mindset of whatever needs to be done. Most of the time it’s setting a hard screen, which I enjoy doing. Next to shooting, I enjoy setting hard screens on people.”

(And that’s incongruous, too. Shooting … and screening? It’s safe to say those weren’t J.J. Redick’s two favorite hoops activities.)

Peacock shares, with Redick and with all great shooters, the self-esteem that comes from having both the form and the touch. “I do have the confidence,” he said, “that’s when it’s my turn to step up I can make the shot.”

He hasn’t kicked himself too hard over the missed free throw in Tallahassee. That’s part of being a shooter. You miss one, you figure you’ll make the next. And a shooter on the order of Zachery Peacock doesn’t ever plan to miss even one. “If I feel that way,” he says, “I just don’t shoot it.”

And when he does shoot? “I always think it’s going in.”

57 comments Add your comment

Irwin M. "Fletch" Fletcher

January 28th, 2010
11:01 am

Irwin M. "Fletch" Fletcher

January 28th, 2010
11:06 am

I wish that Zack would play with a little more caution, sometimes he seems to make some really bad decisions and commit unnecessary fouls, but he has been clutch.

Paul in RDU

January 28th, 2010
11:10 am

Zack is showing something that every team needs – it’s called Leadership

Mark Bradley

January 28th, 2010
11:12 am

Fletch with the first. Kudos.

juvenal

January 28th, 2010
11:12 am

i thought free throws were, aaaaaaaa’a walk in the park…just like..practice” (just kidding, i think he, Gani, & Favors could all play at the same time)

chatter

January 28th, 2010
11:18 am

Like Irwin wrote he too often commits fouls that a SR shouldn’t commit, but then again he is being coached by Paul Blweit. How much growth can one really expect?

Not Disappointed

January 28th, 2010
11:21 am

Morning All! Great blog Mark. Zack is a true ball players…

Ramblin Wreck!

ND

January 28th, 2010
11:43 am

Clutch would have been hitting the FTs vs FSU. JJ would not have missed.

Technophobia

January 28th, 2010
11:44 am

No substitute for senior leadership and experience. And yes, there should be a “best 6th man award”. They can really make a difference.

wiley

January 28th, 2010
11:44 am

Quality kid and quality player. Hewitt needs to look for more kids like him who stay all four years and actually care about the team. I wonder if he will have a future in the NBA….my guess would be yes. Go Jackets!

yellarjacket

January 28th, 2010
11:49 am

Thanks Mark for giving some much deserved credit to Zach Peacock. With all the talent on this team, I believe Zach sometimes gets overlooked. I applaud Zach for embracing his new role as sixth man and showing much needed senior leadership. He’s probably the most consistent jumpshooter on the team and he is definitely the best free throw shooter.

I couldn’t believe he missed the front end of the 1 and 1 at FSU. Don’t forget Zach stepped up and took a charge from Ryan Reid one play earlier, which gave us the ball back and then Zach was fouled on the inbounds. His free throw was a little short, so maybe taking the charge might have affected his shot in that situation.

Mark – you should also mention Zach hit the go ahead jumpshot with less than a minute to play at UNC as well.

Mark Bradley

January 28th, 2010
11:52 am

I should, yellarjacket, and I will.

yellarjacket

January 28th, 2010
11:53 am

Mark – thanks for giving some much deserved credit to Zach Peacock. With all the talent on this team, I believe Zach sometimes gets overlooked. I applaud Zach for embracing his new role as sixth man and showing much needed senior leadership. He’s probably the most consistent jumpshooter on the team and he is definitely the best free throw shooter.

I couldn’t believe he missed the front end of the 1 and 1 at FSU. Don’t forget Zach stepped up and took a charge from Ryan Reid one play earlier, which gave us the ball back and then Zach was fouled on the inbounds. His free throw was a little short, so maybe taking the charge might have affected his shot in that situation.

Mark – you should also mention Zach hit the go ahead jumpshot with less than a minute to play at UNC as well.

GPB

January 28th, 2010
12:03 pm

Peacock is a model that we should hope that many of our freshman take. If all but Favors stay the full 4, I think we will be a force in a two years.

yellarjacket

January 28th, 2010
12:04 pm

My bad. Didn’t mean to post twice.

RicFlair

January 28th, 2010
12:09 pm

How about replacing Hewitt with Darren Horn? His SC team beat #1 Kentucky with just one talented player! Imagine what Horn could do at Ga. Tech with all that talent!!

Angus

January 28th, 2010
12:11 pm

Zach needs to bring it tonight.

It’s 6′-10, 6′-9, 6′-8 (Favors, Gani, Zach) vs. 7′-0, 6′-11, 6′-11, 6′-9, 6′-7.

WF’s frontline is as good as FSU’s (maybe better).

gtm

January 28th, 2010
12:14 pm

Best college sixth man? If the Hawks had the second pick in the next draft then Peacock would be a rich man.

RAMBLE ON!!!

January 28th, 2010
12:14 pm

Zach is the kind of player we need at GT, not the one and dones.

I’m sure, he’ll make a great STARTER for an NBA team in 1-2 years.

and just think, he’ll never play a college post season game, unless GT makes the NIT this year.

Yellow Fuzz84

January 28th, 2010
12:21 pm

Thanks Mark – GA Tech is loaded with talent and is now fielding clearly the BEST team in the ACCin basketball and football. Our recruiting class is probably gonna pass UGaG’s once a few more of their ORAL commits drop out. The time is NOW to be a fan of the Rambling Wreck, there’s plent of room on the bandwagon, ALL ABOARD! We’re going 12-0 and BCS bound again this year!

wiley

January 28th, 2010
12:35 pm

I second Ric Flair…South Carolina’s coach is great.

obvious truth

January 28th, 2010
12:43 pm

Shumpert is the catalyst. Lawal is the best. Favors is the most talented. Peacock is the MVP.

I Run This State

January 28th, 2010
12:45 pm

@Yellow Fuzz84

Rivals.com has UGA’s 2010 class at #9; GT’s at #45

12-0 is a tall order considering Tech’s losing their best 2 defenders, best WR and best RB

RAMBLE ON!!!

January 28th, 2010
12:47 pm

Whooooooo!!!!

ASHEVILLE DAWG

January 28th, 2010
12:58 pm

Peacock may be a great 6th man, but may not nget enough minutes to be the game changer. His drawback—Hewitt.

Mark Bradley

January 28th, 2010
1:09 pm

I disagree, Asheville. He has already changed games. You’ll note that he’s always on the floor at the end.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

January 28th, 2010
1:25 pm

I agree Mark, Peacock may not be the best 6th man, but he probably is the most important.

By the way, I saw a photo of Vince Young practicing at the Pro Bowl. Then I realized why no body watches. Are you kidding me, Vince Young!

dcp

January 28th, 2010
1:32 pm

Great article – I believe if he applies himself he will get a look in a few NBA draft camps. He has made key baskets, plays solid D, and is the guy on the floor at the end of the game that you want to have the ball. Shumpert is erratic, Udofia is coming around, but shaky, Lawal and Favors (if they get fouled) are a gamble. Lawal is better, but I’d rather Zach have the ball. Let’s take down Wake tonight.

ATL

January 28th, 2010
1:43 pm

Peacock is a good overall player and a strong sub but he needs to be smarter with the ball especially in the 2nd half. It almost seems like he has already made up his mind to shoot the ball before he even gets it and it has caused him to throw up some bad shots early in the shot clock. The foul against Clemson really bailed him out when he tried to split a couple Tigers from the 3 pt line with some wild ballhandling..
Im ok with the fouls as long as its from his aggressive play going after rebounds or playing defense

Mark Bradley

January 28th, 2010
1:45 pm

I’d agree, DCP. I’m not sure Peacock will get drafted, but I think some perceptive NBA team will give him a thorough look.

Bradley is Bitter

January 28th, 2010
1:47 pm

just a reminder!!!! (((((73-66)))))

just ANOTHER reminder!!!! {{{{{30-24}}}}}

We Run This State.

sidewalk74

January 28th, 2010
1:52 pm

Hey Peacock, Stop dribbling every time you get the ball. Please.

pws

January 28th, 2010
1:57 pm

And let’s also not forget the input of Bell. He doesn’t have a lot of points, but he does the little things that you don’t get much credit for, as Drew Barry once said about a freshman named Matt Harpring, Bell is the “garbage man” on the team!

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

January 28th, 2010
1:59 pm

We Run This State and We A$$-Paint Little Dogs. That’s what the slogan should be. I was never so surprised when they pulled me into that electrical closet and spray painted my a$$ white. Did they do that to Vince Dooley?

todd grantham

January 28th, 2010
2:02 pm

Mark, too much emphasis on tech lately. yeah the Dogs got blown out last night but they do deserve some exposure. Thanks, todd.

so long

January 28th, 2010
2:05 pm

could Hewitt not call a time out when GT is shooting the winning basket under 10 seconds to go and a little more points from the free throw line guys, go Jackets Wake sux

Jesse Stone

January 28th, 2010
2:29 pm

Todd, UGA is 9-9. They are EXPOSED enough.

Technophobia

January 28th, 2010
3:13 pm

“All morons hate it when you call them a moron”
J D Salinger

Brian Jones TECH FAN

January 28th, 2010
3:14 pm

Mark while I love peacock and everything about his game have to say no to the best bench player. That award would go to Reggie Jackson from BC this kid is amazing off the bench. Best player in the country pound for pound is DEVAN DOWNEY from south carolina if anyone hasnt watched this kid play tune in you are missing out.

CanHewitt

January 28th, 2010
3:37 pm

Peacock will become another undrafted sensation like Morrow despite bad coaching. Hewitt has been a talent killer. Good coaches can get the maximum out of subpar players. Hewitt makes the world class players subpar. Morrow is a greater shooter but rarely saw him taking a shot at crucial moments. Clinch had some potential out of high school but became an underachiever. Favors was rated as #1 in his class but his stock has been dropping. Meanwhile Cousins is putting up better numbers and Wall has become out of this world talent. Gani barely improved his skills. I wonder how they’ll play against another big tim forward in Aminu. I wonder why he went to Wake when his brother was playing at Tech.

If your team had 8 future pro players at some level and lost to a team with no pro potential at all, the blame should solely lies on the coach.

if only....

January 28th, 2010
3:37 pm

the South Carolina coach rocks, I believe he came from W KY, knows his stuff…..

Jackets2010

January 28th, 2010
3:57 pm

Peacock made the 1st FSU game worth attending, showing the freshman how it’s done. Shumpert was great in the UNC game. Oliver in he 2nd FSU game.Favors vs Clemson. Mfon vs Siena. I hope we can start to get more guys to have good games on the same night so winning will get easier.

Mark Bradley

January 28th, 2010
3:59 pm

Darrin Horn indeed came from Western Kentucky. Just like Dennis Felton did.

Jackets2010

January 28th, 2010
4:02 pm

We need to have more Jackets have big games on the same night. Shumpert was all american vs UNC but I would settle for lower numbers more consistently. Peacock showed the freshman how it’s done a couple of times. Oliver good in 2nd FSU game. Favors vs Clemson. Mfon vs Siena. 3 or 4 get hot on the same night and winning will get a lot easier.

Jackets2010

January 28th, 2010
4:05 pm

It is difficult to defend Hewitt with all the critics the bad years have earned but against Clemson we really handled the press well in the 1st half (from practice I’ll bet). Then we went back to the average type of play that his critics love to jump on.

Technophobia

January 28th, 2010
4:32 pm

So who has a big game tonight? The last few games someone has stepped up, who will it be?

Yellow Fuzz84

January 28th, 2010
5:26 pm

I hope D-Rad re-news Hewitt’s contract now that we have clearly proven we are the best team in the ACC.

We Run This Conference!

Kurdt Kobain

January 28th, 2010
6:19 pm

To say Gani Lawal has “barely improved his skills” is absurd. He has grown immensely since his freshman year. Hewitt has earned a lot of criticism, but if you criticize him for bad times you have to compliment him for good times. And this team is talented and getting better all the time.

If our frontcourt works like they did against Clemson, we’re an extremely tough team to beat. They need to get after it tonight.

Mr. Thomas Anthony "The Taxman Cometh" Jones, SR (Waf-SS, ret.)

January 28th, 2010
6:27 pm

Mr. Mark Bradley was correct this time again. The world will soon end when Mr. Bradley agrees with the Taxman!!!

Blue Fox

January 28th, 2010
10:19 pm

Still think we got the wrong Aminu brother at Tech.