Breakthrough Season for Pepper

Not much has gone right for the Temple men's basketball team this year. But the emergence of senior guard Dalton Pepper has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season. Pepper has finally realized the potential he showed back in his high school days, leading the Owls in scoring at 17.5 points per game heading into Saturday's final regular season game at South Florida.

Not much has gone right for the Temple men's basketball team this year.

But the emergence of senior guard Dalton Pepper has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season.

Pepper's college accomplishments hadn't amounted to much in two years at West Virginia after a record-setting high school career at Pennsbury (Pa.) and he transferred back home to Temple for family reasons.

But after sitting out a transfer year, Pepper seemed to slide even further into mediocrity as a redshirt junior in 2012-2013. He averaged just 2.9 points per game and was a DNP-Coach's Decision on several occasions, including both NCAA Tournament games.

But this year Pepper has finally realized the potential he showed back in his high school days, leading the Owls in scoring at 17.5 points per game heading into Saturday's final regular season game at South Florida. After hardly seeing the floor for stretches a year ago, he has hardly come off it this season – averaging 37.3 minutes per game.

"Just getting confidence and getting minutes, being here all summer working out and not taking much time off and getting your mind right," said Pepper. "That's the biggest focus I've done."

Former Owls star Khalif Wyatt said of Pepper when he came to Temple: "I was pretty good in high school, but I wasn't Dalton Pepper."

Pepper scored 2,207 points, grabbed 962 rebounds and was a three-time all-state selection, where he was also named Pennsylvania Big School Player of the Year as a senior. Finally seeing the playing time and individual success he has craved since the beginning of his college career, Pepper has again tapped into the skills that made him such a prolific high-school scorer.

"He's a tremendous kid and he's had a great season so far, and he's got a little bit more to go," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. "It's very important. His parents are happy he's had this kind of finish, his family and a bunch of Pennsbury family that has supported him greatly in his time here… . I think it will be a lasting memory for him. I think you're hard-pressed to say he didn't have it in him, this is the kind of kid he could be. He just hasn't had the confidence level he now had.

"We've needed him so badly, and he's stayed in the moment. We had a lot of bodies at his position last year, and he wasn't given the same opportunity to fail he has this year. It's just the way life worked out for him."

Still Pepper hasn't been able to revel in his accomplishments, not on a team which is just 8-21 this season. If he hasn't been part of much individual success his first three college seasons, he was at least on three squads which advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

"You never want to be part of a losing season, so it's tough that way," said Pepper. "But I'm happy to be out there contributing. Even though it's been a tough season, we're trying to end the season on the right note and get a few wins in the conference tournament, because you never know what can happen."

Owls Daily Top Stories