Dec. 31—ROCHESTER — In the near future, Plainview-Elgin-Millville senior Kaiden Peters is going to have to make a decision. But right now, he's just trying to enjoy his final season of high school basketball.
Peters is a starting guard/forward for the Bulldogs. But it wasn't too long ago that he was excelling for the P-E-M football team. This spring he will compete in track and field.
"He's a freak athlete in every sport he does," P-E-M boys basketball coach Jason Herber said. "He could probably play college in all three sports."
At some point Peters will choose whether he wants to play football or basketball in college.
"I'm 50-50," Peters said. Well, maybe it's more like 52-48, with a slight lean toward basketball.
"I might like basketball a little better," he admitted.
Peters has a football offer from Division II Winona State University as a defensive back and as a kick returner.
He was dazzling as a kick returner as a senior at P-E-M, returning seven kicks for touchdowns, six punts and one kickoff. For his standout season, he was selected to the 2022 Minnesota Vikings All-State Team.
He has been talking to schools regarding basketball, but has yet to receive a scholarship offer.
"If I get an offer for basketball, I haven't decided what (sport) I'd rather pick," he said.
And while Peters is an outstanding athlete, Herber said he is an even better person, who is easy to coach and has very little ego. Herber has known Peters since he was in second grade. Peters is good friends with Herber's son, Brady, who is a starting senior guard for the Bulldogs.
"So he's like another son to me, he's always at the house," Jason Herber said. "He's just so much fun to be around."
Jason Herber is the manager at CineMagic Hollywood 12 Theatres in Rochester, and Peters has worked at the movie theater for the past five months.
School, sports and a job keep Peters constantly busy. In track, the 6-foot-3, 170-pounder's top individual events are the 400-meter run and the high jump. He said his 40-yard dash time during football season was about 4.6 seconds.
"Track obviously helps with running and basketball helps with conditioning," Peters said. "In football, the weights (lifting), so they all contribute."
Peters' quick bursts of speed and shiftiness made him an elite kick returner in football. Those same qualities can also make him an unstoppable force in basketball.
"I love playing with him," P-E-M senior Aeron Stevens said. "He's so quick and attacking; he creates so well and he just goes right past his guy. He's so fast and it really opens it up for the whole team."
The left-handed Peters uses his quickness to get inside on opponents seemingly at will. He demonstrated that ability with a spin move in the lane on Thursday against John Marshall in the Rochester Rotary Holiday Classic. Peters easily spun past a defender, and he finished at the rim.
"That's my signature move," Peters said with a grin. "That's my favorite one."
Herber said that both Peters and the 6-7 Stevens are good passers and very unselfish. Stevens, who is often double-teamed in the post, averaged 17.5 points per game a year ago.
"Teams that we play around here obviously key (on) me and Aeron so me and him distributing the ball well really helps," Peters said.
Peters is in his second season as a starter for the Bulldogs. He averaged 16.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a junior. This year he is averaging about 20 points per game, but missed one contest to play in the Minnesota High School All-Star Football Game.
Herber said Peters' biggest improvement has been on defense. He has gone from a mediocre defender as a sophomore to one of P-E-M's top defenders as a senior.
"I joined a different AAU team (the Rochester-based Minnesota Lightning) and we've been playing some tougher teams and our AAU coach would give me the hard (defensive) assignment of guarding one of the better guys," Peters said. "So I've just been improving on my defensive skills."
Stevens played AAU ball with Peters on the Lightning last summer. The two seniors have high hopes this season after last year's heartbreaking ending. P-E-M posted a 28-2 record a year ago, but the second loss was a crushing 72-61 triple-overtime setback to Caledonia in the Section 1AA championship game. The Bulldogs are currently ranked No. 7 in Class AA, but Section 1AA foe Lake City is ranked No. 2.
"It definitely gave me the mindset that we're hungry for more," Peters said of last season's section loss. "Me and Aeron both worked really hard over the summer and our mentality is 'State or bust' kind of deal."