LINCOLN — Basketball has always meant a lot to the Petteway family of Galveston, Texas. Terran Petteway will be a sophomore wing this season at Nebraska.
His two older brothers also played after high school — Terrell at Lamar and professionally in England; Tavoir in junior college.
“I've been playing since I was 5 years old,” Terran said. “From grade school on, my dad always had me playing 'up' from my grade. I took basketball serious at a young age.”
But his love of the game was rocked two years ago during his freshman season at Texas Tech.
It wasn't just that the Red Raiders went 8-23 overall and 1-17 in the Big 12 under coach Billy Gillispie. Or that Petteway's playing time yo-yoed without explanation. In one mid-February stretch, his minutes in consecutive games were 2, 13, 43 and 14, respectively.
The alleged abuse of players — not publicized until some on the team spoke out three months after the season — was Petteway's major test of will.
Players said they practiced routinely four hours a day and sometimes as many as eight. Injured players were forced to practice or run stairs. Others said their scholarships were openly threatened.
“That was the most crazy year of basketball I've ever had in my life,” said Petteway, not wanting to comment further. “I'm glad I got out. I have good parents that got me out of that situation.”
Petteway was one of 15 players to leave in Gillispie's 18 months at Texas Tech.
Yet he harbors no outward ill will from the experience.
“I think God put me in that position for a reason,” Petteway said. “He put me there to make me more mentally tough. It all worked out, because as soon as I was ready to leave, Coach Miles got the job here at Nebraska.”
Husker coach Tim Miles came from Colorado State — the school that finished second to Texas Tech in recruiting Petteway out of high school.
Actually, CSU was third. Petteway's first choice was to accept an offer from UNLV.
“When I got home, I said, 'Momma, that's where I want to go,'” he said. “My mom looked at my dad and said, 'Any school but there.'
“And when Momma says no, it means no. She didn't like Vegas and the whole concept of the Strip.”
Miles said he recruited Petteway “very hard” at Colorado State, then added: “I've always liked Terran's mom a lot for not letting him go to UNLV.”
So now Miles and Petteway are united at Nebraska.
“You aren't going to find many guys more passionate about the game, almost to a fault,” Miles said. “There is a lot of perfectionist in him. That can be really good. But it's also something you have to manage.”
His teammates can testify to that.
Though sitting out last season as a transfer, Petteway was anything but a spectator in practice. His frenetic play and hatred of losing in any drill was a regular source of conversation, and occasionally antagonism.
“I play hard,” Petteway said. “And I'm very versatile. I can bring the ball up the floor. I can run the offense when I need to. I can post up when I have a smaller guard on me. And I can guard multiple positions.
“But I'll do whatever Coach wants me to do because all I want to do is win.”
His body is ready. The 6-foot-6 Petteway has gone from 190 pounds to 210 in his year at Nebraska, earning the team's top lifter award.
At Texas Tech, Petteway averaged 3.1 points and 2.0 rebounds in 28 games, with 11 starts. But often his offensive assignment under Gillispie was simply to run to the corner and wait.
In high school, Petteway was a Texas all-stater who averaged 27 points and nine rebounds as a senior.
“I see myself as a scorer,” he said. “And if you don't like the offense Coach Miles runs, I can't help you. It's great. We'll get up and down the floor a lot more.”
Miles said he's eager to make full use of Petteway.
“Terran has a chance to be one of our best players,” the coach said. “And he is our hardest worker to this point. Any time you have that mix, that's a good sign.”
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