EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State men’s basketball program will retire the jersey (No. 42) of former All-American Morris Peterson this Saturday, Jan. 17 as the Spartans host Illinois in the Breslin Center at 4 p.m. Peterson, who helped lead Michigan State to the 2000 National Championship, earned All-America and Big Ten Player of the Year honors as a senior in 1999-2000. The jersey retirement ceremony will be held prior to tip-off.
"Morris Peterson was not a highly visible recruit nationally, but he and Antonio Smith took a chance on me, and we’ll always have a special bond because of that," said Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo. "If you look at where he was when he came to Michigan State, to where he was when he graduated, to where he is today, he is one of the all-time success stories. He excelled athletically, academically and socially. Everyone knows about all of his on-the-court accomplishments, but to him and his family, his graduation day was just as important, with family coming in from far away to be a part of that special day.
"There are a few things that stand out to me about Morris Peterson as a player. After not taking a potential game-winning shot in a loss at Kentucky early in his senior year, he bounced back a few weeks later with a contested 3-pointer against Indiana, sending that game into overtime. I’ll also always remember him suggesting in a late huddle against Iowa State that we should use the back-door lob because his man was overplaying him.
"But more than any one play, the unselfishness he showed as a junior willing to come off the bench for the betterment of the team is an example that I still use today," Izzo continued. "He deserved to start, but instead, he became the first sixth man to earn First-Team All-Big Ten honors. His unselfishness is one of those things that is a cement block as you try to build a program that stands up over time. Equally impressive, he’s stayed in touch ever since he graduated and has ensured that the program that he helped build has continued to flourish."
Peterson ranks 10th in on the MSU career scoring list with 1,588 points. Over the course of his Michigan State career, the Spartans captured three-straight Big Ten Championships (1997-98, 1998-99, 1999-2000), two Big Ten Tournament titles (1999, 2000), made two Final Four appearances (1999, 2000) and won a National Championship (2000).
The Flint, Mich., native ranks among MSU’s all-time leaders in 3-point field goals made (8th, 146) and attempted (8th, 387), and games started (4th, 137). Peterson played just four games as a true freshman in 1995-96 before taking a medical redshirt due to a broken finger. He averaged 6.8 points as a red-shirt freshman and 8.0 as a sophomore. During his sophomore season, Peterson fractured a bone in his right wrist and missed three games. When he returned, he was forced to play with a cast, dubbed "The Club," for a majority of the remainder of the season. The cast is credited with helping Peterson become a better all-around player.
His breakout season came as a junior in 1998-99. Despite just starting four of 38 games that season, Peterson became the first non-starter in Big Ten history to earn first-team all-conference honors as he led the Spartans in scoring at 13.6 points per game. Peterson was also named the Outstanding Player of the NCAA Midwest Regional as MSU advanced to the Final Four for the first time since 1979. Coming off that performance, Peterson had an explosive start to his senior year, leading the Spartans with 31 points in a win at No. 2 North Carolina despite All-American Mateen Cleaves missing the game with an injury. For the season, Peterson averaged 16.8 points and 6.0 rebounds, earning First-Team All-America honors from the Sporting News and the Wooden Award and second-team accolades from The Associated Press, NABC and USBWA. At the end of the conference season, he was voted Big Ten Player of the Year by the league’s coaches. He was voted Most Outstanding Player of the 2000 Big Ten Tournament as the Spartans captured their second straight title. During MSU’s run to the national title, he was named Most Outstanding Player of the Midwest Regional for the second straight year and earned a spot on the all-tournament team.
Peterson was selected by the Toronto Raptors with the 21st pick in the first round of the 2000 NBA Draft. He spent seven seasons with the Raptors before joining the New Orleans Hornets prior to the 2007-08 season.
Peterson becomes the ninth player in Spartan men’s basketball history to have a jersey retired, joining Scott Skiles (No. 4), Mateen Cleaves (No. 12), Steve Smith (No. 21), Johnny Green (No. 24), Shawn Respert (No. 24), Jay Vincent (No. 32) and Earvin "Magic" Johnson (No. 33). In addition to the retired jerseys, a banner also hangs in recognition of 19-year head coach Jud Heathcote.