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Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
Kearns High senior Jay Peters is a talented basketball player and artist. His solid play has helped spark the 7-6 Cougars this season.

KEARNS — One of Kearns basketball coach Bob Ostberg's seniors has a great stroke — smooth and accurate. He is also a quick learner and a hard worker with promising potential to use his talent after high school.

And that's just describing Jay Peters in one of his art classes.

Turns out, Peters is a standout calligraphy student and artist who happens to have some similar skills (and then some) on the court.

In this sense, basketball life imitates art class.

And in Peters' case, he excels at both.

According to Ostberg the art teacher, Peters is a right-brain type. He's creative, artistic, fun, open-minded, an ideas guy. He's also, Ostberg says, "hands-down my best calligrapher." Peters likes to draw on anything. Even football players. He was the unofficial team "tagger," helping his football teammates get fired up for games by drawing on their calves and arms this past season. He is even creating his own line of clothing — "Real Fake Productions" (more on the Loch Ness Monster-inspired name later) — which features his artistic logos and designs.

According to Ostberg the basketball coach, his flashy point guard is a coach's dream. "He has done absolutely everything that we've asked him to do. ... He is a true basketball athlete."

That entails quite a bit.

For one thing, Peters averages about 19 points, six assists, six rebounds and three steals. Not only is Peters an effective scorer — from anywhere on the court, and especially deep — but he's also an "outstanding ballhandler ... (who) leaves you spinning sometimes." He is a dangerous drive-and-dish point guard as well as a relentless, well-balanced defender. He is a good teammate who loves playing hoops, especially with the "brothers" on his team, and a solid leader, who sweeps the gym floor every day instead of making some sophomore do it. He's also a dedicated student-athlete who enjoys practicing and shooting as much as he can but still keeps his grades up.

Peters' stellar play is a big reason the undersized Cougars are off to one of their better starts in years with a rare winning record of 7-6. It's also gotten him some lofty recognition, most notably being named recently as one of 23 Utah nominees for the prestigious McDonald's All-American Game.

It's no wonder why the coach who prefers team-oriented stories over personal player profiles made an exception for Peters.

"He's the kind of player who deserves that individual type of recognition," Ostberg says.

Peters is also the kind of player who recognizes the help he receives. He's so close to the other top Cougars, Ostberg calls the group "the circle of trust." Peters says those guys — co-captain Jeremy Falk, Jordan Knighton and Isaac Vigil — are like family.

"We like playing with each other, so we have fun doing it," he says. "That's what makes us click better is we're brothers."

What helps them shoot better is that they're brothers who hit the gym a lot.

"Anytime we get a chance," Peters says.

They made up a game/drill that they call "Form Shooting." They don't stop until they've hit 210 shots, including free throws, jumpers and the Cougars' specialty: 3-pointers. They went to the rec center every day in the summer, and they still go after practice sometimes.

The Cougars' outside accuracy — along with their fast-break-creating quickness — has them playing like a team capable of making an unexpected run at the playoffs. Impressive considering Kearns' best players — the ones in the circle of trust — are under 6 feet tall. Peters and Falk are 5-11, Knighton stands 5-8 and Vigil is 5-7.

It helps that teams overlook them (literally most of the time). All four are among the top 5A 3-point shooters.

"They ain't ready for us to be able to shoot the ball like we do," Peters says. "I think that's a good thing to our advantage, kind of unexpected."

Something else that's unexpected is how Peters came up with the name of his fledgling clothing line.

One day he was at Knighton's house watching TV with his family. During one commercial, the Loch Ness Monster appeared out of a lake, attacked an SUV, shook it and then tossed it back to the ground. Knighton's brother then posed the question: "Hey, you think the Loch Ness Monster is real?"

His dad responded: "Yeah, he's real — real fake."

Peters busted up laughing, and he began saying that phrase all the time. When he'd shake and fake someone out on the court, he'd jokingly say it after taking them to the hole. It quickly caught on.

"People," he says, "started saying it every time I would shake somebody, 'That's a real fake."'

Peters wrote the phrase — and variations like: "Real fake's what it is" — everywhere. He then made shirts and graphics featuring it. Kids at school asked him for shirts. He printed some designs on cheap iron-on paper but found that those shirts became one-time use only because they "mess up in the wash." He's made about five professional-quality shirts at school, and he's hoping to pursue that more after basketball season.

"He's ambitious that way," Ostberg says.

Peters is also gung-ho about his basketball career. Recruiters aren't knocking down the Cougar's door yet, but he has high hopes of playing at the next level. His size might be keeping coaches away for now, but Ostberg says he's got the talent and drive to succeed in college.

Peters' shooting, which is about 54 percent from the field, certainly seems good enough. So do his dribbling and passing skills. And Ostberg believes college coaches will discover he'll hold his own on the other side of the court as well.

"The biggest-kept secret about him is he's a heck of a defender," Ostberg says. "That's one of the knocks on small guards in high school ... but I think Jay can defend college players."

Along with becoming the next athletic-apparel millionaire — a la former BYU player Bobby Capener, who sold his popular "Above The Rim" collection to Reebok for beaucoup bucks — Peters has a few basketball-related goals. First, he wants his team to make the playoffs. He also wants to win in postseason and to end with a winning record. Getting a scholarship comes next.

"Another goal for me is to play college basketball," he says. "I've been wanting that since I was a little kid, been a dream of mine."

Imagine how cool that signature on Peters' national letter of intent would look. Pretty smooth, accurate, artistic. Just like his stroke — in class and on the court.

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