NC State women’s basketball gets commitment from 13-year-old

N.C. State head coach Wes Moore (right) liked what he saw of 13-year-old Jada Peebles (not pictured) before he knew about her father's athletic career at the school, according to The Charlotte Observer.

It’s hard to imagine a 13-year-old making any important decision, much less a decision that will affect the rest of her life.

Yet 13-year-old Jada Peebles gave the NC State women’s basketball program a verbal commitment on Friday, accepting an offered scholarship by head coach Wes Moore.

She can’t officially sign a letter of intent until October 2018, which is more than four years away. But the seventh-grader, whose father, Danny, played football and ran track at NC State, told the Charlotte Observer she feels "really good" about her decision. 

In a way, it does make sense. Oftentimes kids grow up a fan of a school’s team and dream of going to school there.

"I’ve always wanted to go to State," she told The Observer.

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Danny Peebles went on to play wide receiver in the NFL and was recently inducted into NC State’s Hall of Fame for both his football and track career. He was also selected as one of the ACC’s top 50 track athletes of all time. Peebles’ mother and father both attended NC State, and she grew up going not only to Wolfpack sporting events but also to their basketball camps.

She’s had NC State in her blood practically since she was born.

But obviously a scholarship offer alone — much less an actual commitment, even if it’s just verbal — will raise eyebrows among those who might think 13 is too young to make that kind of a decision.

It’s not the first time this has happened, even in North Carolina.

Quarterback Chris Leak was offered a scholarship by former Wake Forest head coach Jim Caldwell in 1998, when he was just in eighth grade. Leak’s older brother C.J. was a Deacon already, so he accepted the offer. Leak, who went to high school in Charlotte, ended up attending Florida and quarterbacking a national championship team in 2006.

Peebles, already 5-foot-7 as a 13-year-old, was described by The Observer as an outstanding shooter.

But she is still in middle school. And with the way things tend to go in college athletics, Moore and his staff might not even be there when Peebles can finally sign her letter of intent, much less when she would actually step foot on campus (in 2019). If there is another head coach in place in 2019, that coach is under no obligation to honor the commitment as it’s a non-binding agreement both ways.

There was another reason for the commitment, though. Peebles wants to be a veterinarian, and NC State has one of the best vet schools in the region, if not the country.

Still, Danny Peebles and his wife said they wanted their daughter to be sure about this, even though the commitment is non-binding.

"We asked a lot of questions," Danny Peebles told The Observer. "The whole process took about a half of a day. Right after she got back in the car, she said she knew she wanted to go to State. When we started talking about it, I asked Jada what would happen if she committed to State and later Connecticut called with a scholarship offer. What about Notre Dame or Maryland? She just shrugged. When Jada shrugs, it means that it is no big deal."

Speaking of Notre Dame, former Irish star Skylar Diggins committed to Notre Dame as an eighth-grader, so it’s not all that unprecedented, even in women’s basketball.

Peebles’ AAU coach Arne Morris spoke to the coaches at NC State, and they already knew about Jada before they knew about her father. So their interest in her had nothing to do with his ties to the university, Morris told The Observer.

What ultimately matters, though, is that she’s satisfied with the decision.

She says that she is.

"I really don’t think it adds or subtracts any pressure," Peebles told The Observer. "I’m excited that I’m going to State."