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Home, Sweet Home

Nov. 4, 2009

by Jon Cooper, Contributing Editor

ATLANTA — Zachery Peacock is a people person.

He just thrives on human contact.

Some of his favorite contact comes in the 18-foot-10 by 12-foot area between the foul line and the baseline, where he might absorb a knee to the chest attempting to draw a charge or an elbow to the ribs battling for a rebound.

While it’s not a life for the squeamish, it’s the life for Peacock.

It certainly beats hanging out at the three-point line, like he did for most of last season. Out there, the only contact he encountered was of the verbal variety, from players on the opposing bench.

Usually, he was able to ignore their harmless yet annoying yells from behind as they attempted to distract him when he launched a shot.

“I’m so comfortable right now with what I’m doing, it’s amazing,” said Peacock, who begins his senior season averaging 3.9 rebounds per game, with 41 career blocked shots. “I can’t even find the words to describe how I feel.”

Not being able to put into words how he feels being in the post is preferable to not being able to put into print his feelings about playing on the wing.

Even coach Paul Hewitt admits that putting Peacock at the small forward spot last season was an experiment done out of necessity after injuries knocked out more ideal wing candidates Lewis Clinch, D’Andre Bell and Maurice Miller.

On first pass, the idea actually sounded nice to Peacock, but it soon proved to be a case of, `be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.’

“It was always my dream to play out on the wing, but it’s a lot tougher than it looks,” he said with a chuckle. “It was something new. It was a new experience for me. It just feels good to be back where I’m used to playing.”

Even with the switch in position, some of Peacock’s power numbers went up (4.8 rebounds per game and 21 blocks), but his offensive production fell by nearly a point per game (nearly 1.5 points in ACC games).

His three-point shooting nearly disappeared, as he took only 15 shots from behind the arc all season, hitting six — marks he’d usually hit during the non-conference portion of the schedule.

The drop in offensive production can be attributed to his lack of energy caused by losing weight to try to adapt to his new position.

“[Losing weight] really bothered him,” said Hewitt. “He was weak. There were some days he was trying not to eat too much, then come out and practice, and he literally would feel faint in practice. Then he had his knees. His knees are a little sore and he’s chasing around all these smaller guys.”

Peacock keeps a sense of humor about his season on the wing, and, according to Hewitt, isn’t shy talking about it.

“He says, ‘Anybody that wants to play the wing, come talk to me first,’ ” said Hewitt with a laugh.

Peacock prefers to talk about the upcoming season, where he’ll play at a healthy 245 pounds, a comfortable weight for him. He’ll have the back of freshman center Derrick Favors and junior forward Gani Lawal, and likely flourish when opportunity presents itself.

“I can tell already it’s going to be a great experience playing with those guys,” he said. “It’s going to help me because a lot of teams are going to be playing them, forgetting about me. I can do my own thing from what the teams are preparing to do to them.”

He might even venture out to the three-point line.

“You’ll still catch me back there shooting a couple threes,” he said, breaking into a smile. “But I’m glad I don’t have to spend the majority of my time back there.”

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