Utah head men’s basketball coach Craig Smith will have a familiar face on the bench after adding Eric Peterson to his staff. The two previously worked together at his last two stops as a head coach.
“We are thrilled that Eric Peterson will be joining the Runnin’ Utes basketball program,” said Smith. “Eric has been instrumental in our success over the last seven years at the university of South Dakota and Utah State. We have won many games and championships during that stretch and Eric has been a big part of that. He is the total package. Eric is well versed in all areas of our program. He can coach, develop players, recruit, lead and motivate. He is a relationship person in every way! Eric and his wonderful family will thrive in our great community of Salt Lake City.”
Peterson comes to SLC having served alongside Smith the past seven-plus years in Logan, Utah, and in Vermillion, S.D. His roles at both stops included working with the post players, scheduling and international recruiting on top of his concentration in the Midwest, Texas and JUCO ranks.
While at USU, Peterson was instrumental in the development of Neemias Queta – who recently earned AP All-America Honorable Mention accolades. The 7-0 center is a two-time Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year honoree while earning first-team all-conference honors this past season and back-to-back second-team honors his first two season. In addition, Queta was named the 2019 MWC Freshman of the Year. Nationally, the Barreiro, Portugal, product was nationally recognized, garnering the 2021 US Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) District VIII Player of the Year award to go with a pair of all-district VIII honors by the USBWA. He was also name the 2020-21 National Defensive Player of the Year by BleacherReport.com.
As a team, Peterson helped guide Utah State to three-straight 20-plus win season, three-consecutive NCAA Tournament berths and two MWC Tournament Championships. Their No. 8 seed in the Big Dance his first year with the Aggies was the highest seed in program history.
His track record at South Dakota with Smith was also just as stellar, leading the Coyotes to back-to-back 20-win seasons, a regular season Summit League Championship and the school’s first-ever appearance in the Summit League Tournament Championship game. In the two seasons alone, South Dakota was 48-21 (.696) and 23-7 (.767) in league play, while advancing to a pair of postseason appearances in the NIT and CBI.
He mentored Tyler Flack to a First-Team All-Summit League selection, and a pair of Second-Team All-Summit League accolades in Trey Burch-Manning and Tyler Hagedorn. Burch-Manning was also named to the Summit League All-Newcomer Team in 2016-17 after finishing fourth in the Summit League with 7.8 rebounds per contest during league play in his first year in Vermillion.
Prior to joining Smith at USD and USU, Peterson served as the head men’s basketball coach and Director of Athletics at Williston State. During his tenure, the Tetons compiled an overall mark of 52-15 and captured the 2014 Mon-Dak Conference Championship to go with the 2013 Region XIII Championship. In his final season at WSC, the Tetons won 27 games, had their best winning percentage in program history and earned the program’s first-ever top-25 ranking. The performance led to Mon-Dak Coach of the Year honors and a pair of NJCAA All-American honors for Marquel Curtis and Trey Dickerson.
Peterson is originally from West Salem, Wis., and graduated from UW-La Crosse with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He also holds a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in sports management and education from South Dakota.
Peterson and his wife, Lindsey, have a daughter, Flynn, and three sons, Isaiah, Briggs and Bowen.