A Boy, a Ball, and a Dream: JoJo Peterson set to take on D1 basketball


Kathryn Ingall

Peterson signs his letter of intent to Purdue University Fort Wayne at Mount Pisgah’s signing day event on November 11

Cloey Hixenbaugh, Staff Reporter

Charles Josyah Peterson has always been devoted and able to focus for extended periods of time. This led his ability to continue to accomplish goals. 

His mother, Branda Peterson, says that this habit of his can be traced this back to his youth when he,“sat for hours putting the Lego-set together, and then once it was complete, he would place it on his shelf. Each year he added to the collection. We always thought it was so endearing.” 

As a student, Peterson attended Barnwell Elementary school where he played a variety of sports starting off with flag football. 

He then took his skills beyond flag football and to tackle football where his parents said

 “he was an outstanding quarterback and a great team leader.” 

The leadership his parents saw in him as a child continued to grow as  he began to play more basketball. 

Peterson continued to dive deeper into the basketball world when he started to become more serious in his persuit of the sport. Peterson later joined the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). In middle school, once his focus was on basketball, he began to coin the name we know and love: JoJo. 

He started playing AAU basketball when he was eight years old for Georgia Fastbreak. 

In middle school, once his focus was on basketball, he began to coin the name we know and love: JoJo. 

Peterson has played on seven AAU teams and in the most recent season has played for the Atlanta Celtics. His coach for multiple years was Demond Stephens. As Stephens saw Peterson improve as a player he recognized that Peterson had the potential to be a division one player because of his all-around skill set. 

Demond had been Peterson’s coach since Peterson was in the fourth grade. Demond watched as Peterson transformed and began to focus on achieving his goals on the court.

Mr. and Mrs. Peterson watched as Peterson’s passion grew for basketball especially in fifth grade. 

“Once he returned from his tournament, around 5 am in the morning, he asked us to take him to the gym so he could go work out some more. This was only the beginning.” 

After middle school, Peterson made the decision to come to Mount Pisgah and continue playing basketball. 

Peterson’s first dream was to play basketball in college. His success in middle school led him to believe his dream was realistic. 

Peterson’s dream, however,  seemed to have come to a crashing halt when in the ninth grade he tore his ACL. 

This injury gave Peterson a new view of life and what might come next.

  “[It] showed me anything can be taken away from me at any given time.”  

Peterson worked with Bronson Walters, owner of Muscle Performance Science to get back into condition to play. He went above and beyond to get back on the court. 

“He always had the desire to play at the collegiate level and with this minor setback, he found his hunger for the game,” his parents said. “His passion was intensified and he worked to get back on the court, and return stronger than before. With this new goal, he became more focused, more motivated, and more driven.” 

“A lot [of] God-given talent go to waste because of lack of work ethic and effort,” Bronson said. “JoJo has been blessed with God-given talent and he understands the more he works the larger his talent grows.” 

Peterson grew in his junior year of basketball as a player and a leader. He put his teammates first,by helping them get better which helped the team win games. Team success helped Peterson grow individually which helped JoJo in his recruitment process with more schools. 

  Peterson’s parents explain the recruitment process and what they looked for in a college.

“We identified the degree program that most interested him, the academic rigor of his desired undergraduate program, what resources would be available to him as a player, which basketball program suited his style of play, who would develop him as a player, who took the most interest in him, how far the school was, the facilities, the success rate of their teams and of their graduating players,” said Mr. Peterson.

Throughout this process, Peterson had zoom calls with many coaches and researched many colleges. It was ultimately down to three schools, and after the summer Peterson committed to Purdue Fort Wayne in Indiana to continue his acedemic and athletic career. 

“It is a great program looking at all the other schools this one is the best fit for me,” Peterson said. Outside of basketball, it is a good school environment and it fits my personality.” 

Coach Coffman has high hopes and expectations for Peterson joining the team. 

“Our last 5 point guards have signed professional contracts and we see JoJo with the talent and work ethic to have a great chance to follow in their path in our up tempo style,” he said. “He has had tremendous coaching and brings a high basketball IQ to Fort Wayne which will help him to make an impact early in his career.”

Much like building his Lego house all those years ago, JoJo has worked toward achieving his dream by taking each day, practice, and game one brick at a time.