Nike Peach Jam Saturday Recap: Jayson Tatum, DeAndre Ayton and Briscoe vs. Trier

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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — The most anticipated matchup of the day on Saturday featured two of the best guards in the country: Allonzo Trier and Isaiah Briscoe.

And no matter how you slice it, Trier won the battle. He finished with 42 points on the afternoon, hitting five threes and getting to the free throws line 20 times as Athletes First knocked off the N.J. Playaz in a thrilling and fun overtime game. Briscoe played well, notching 19 points and three assists as he sat out long stretches of the first half in an effort to save his legs for the night game.

There is a significance here, as both players are being pursued heavily by Arizona and just so happen to occupy essentially the same position. That means the Wildcats will likely end up with whoever they decide is the better of the two, so it should come as no surprise that Sean Miller was sitting front and center for this one.

There is one important stat to keep in mind before thinking that Trier’s performance locks him into a scholarship to Arizona: he was 10-for-30 from the floor and also shot those 20 free throws while adding just a single assist. Some of that is a result of the team that he plays on in the EYBL — he HAS to take a lot of shots if they are going to be competitive — but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a scorer that needs the ball in his hands.

Briscoe needs the ball as well, but he’s a more well-rounded lead guard. He’s an excellent passer, to the point that some scouts believe his true position is as a point guard at the college level. He is strong with the ball and capable of making a play in the post. He’s not the best athlete in the country, but he’s got long arms and massive hands. Think Wichita State’s Ron Baker.

The thing to remember is this: Arizona already has a commitment from Justin Simon, another five-star combo-guard, in the Class of 2015 and has point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright joining the program this season. Regardless of who — if either — they end up with, the Wildcats will have plenty of guard play in the future.

Braxton Beverly stands out in matchup with Jalen Brunson: If you follow recruiting, you’ve heard the name Jalen Brunson before. He’s a five-star point guard, arguably the best at his position in the Class of 2015. You’ve probably never heard of Braxton Beverly before, but the Class of 2016 point guard from Hazard, Ky., was the best lead guard on the floor when his Travelers teams squared off with the Mac Irvin Fire on Saturday.

Beverly finished with 14 points and eight assists, which is impressive even before I put those numbers into context for you. The Mac Irvin Fire is one of the best AAU programs in the country and spent the entire second half using their myriad of athletes in an all out, full court press. Beverly never rattled, even when he rolled an ankle midway through the half. And to make things even more impressive, he closed out the win with three consecutive tough drives through the lane. The 5-foot-11 point guard lists offers from Western Kentucky, Northern Kentucky, Samford, Cleveland State and Marshall, but he’s had some high-majors poking around of late. Saturday’s performance will likely bring more.

Give me Jayson Tatum over Malik Monk: I saw Malik Monk put on a showstopping performance on Friday night at Peach Jam playing 17s. On Saturday, I watched Jayson Tatum do the same, except he was doing it against overmatched 16-year olds in a game his team lost. Regardless, I think I would still take Tatum over Monk if forced to pick. Tatum is a 6-foot-8 forward with length that is as smooth as they come on the perimeter. He got to the rim whenever he wanted to this week, and while I have concerns about his strength and his overall athleticism, the bottom-line is that this kid can flat out play.

It’s also worth noting here that Monk had eight points and 12 points while shooting a combined 6-for-31 in the two games surrounding his 40-point outburst. On Saturday, he went 3-for-20 from the floor and 0-for-9 from three with six turnovers.

First impressions on DeAndre Ayton: I got my first look at DeAndre Ayton, one of the best prospects in the Class of 2017, on Saturday afternoon in a consolation game in the EYBL’s 16U division. Ayton has an the ideal frame and physical gifts for a big man prospect and the kind of coordination that you rarely see out of a kid that size and age. But he has got a long, long way to go in his development. He doesn’t have the confidence in his post game to demand the ball when he gets position, he not strong enough to be the presence on the glass that he should be and the native Bahamian still looks like he is learning the game. That said … those physical gifts are really tantalizing, and his shooting stroke actually looked pretty decent.

Report: Texas’ Jones to test NBA possibility

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Both of Texas’ McDonald’s All-Americans from its 2016 class will test the NBA waters.

Andrew Jones will declare for the draft, but will not hire an agent, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-4 guard joins Jarrett Allen, the Longhorns’ star center, in utilizing the rule change that became available to players last year in which they can declare, workout for teams, attend the NBA combine and still return to school.

Jones averaged 11.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a freshman. He shot 42.5 percent from the field overall and 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

Allen seems the likelier candidate to remain in the draft as a potential lottery pick, but Jones came to Austin with similar one-and-done possibilities given his status as one of the class’ top recruits.

Texas, of course, is hoping both return, not just because they’re both big talents, but because incoming and highly-touted recruit Matt Coleman fills the major hole in last year’s lineup – point guard. If the three of them can share the floor together, Year 3 of the Shaka Smart era will be much more interesting.

Morrow announces transfer from Nebraska

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Nebraska was once again hit with a surprising and damaging transfer.

Ed Morrow, Jr., who led the Huskers in rebounding last year, announced his intention to transfer, the school announced Wednesday.

“I support Ed in his decision to transfer schools and wish him well,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said in a statement. “We appreciate his hard work over the last two years. Although I am disappointed, we will continue to recruit young men who are committed to our mission of building Nebraska Basketball with a culture of success in all areas…life, school and winning basketball at its highest level.”

The 6-foot-7 sophomore’s departure is a major hit to the Huskers, who are coming off a 12-19 year in which Miles’ job security was called into question. It almost assuredly will be again this year as Nebraska hasn’t been able to build on its 2014 NCAA tournament appearance, instead putting together three-straight losing seasons.

Morrow’s decision is surprising not only given he’d been a productive member of the team – averaging 9.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game – but because he was born in Nebraska before attending high school in Chicago and both his parents were Nebraska student-athletes his father winning a national title on the football team in 1994 and his mother an all-Big Eight performer on the basketball team.

“I want to say thank you to my teammates, coaches, the fans and the University of Nebraska athletics department for giving me the opportunity to play Division I basketball,” Morrow said in a statement. “It is hard to leave home, and Nebraska is my home. I was born and raised here, it is my parents’ alma mater, and I have a lot of friends here. But sometimes you have to venture out to pursue dreams and aspirations in a career. This is a sacrifice I have to make to better myself.”

Morrow’s transfer comes a year after Andrew White surprised Nebraska with his decision to graduate and transfer to Syracuse, which no doubt impacted the Huskers’ poor 2016-17 record.

Miles was on the hot seat at the end of last season and will assuredly begin this season there as well. A roster hit like Morrow won’t do much to help him improve the situation. Nebraska does, however, have three starters returning while Georgetown transfer Isaac Copeland is eligible, as is Miami (Fla.) transfer James Palmer, Jr.

Lonzo Ball says “I’m better than” Markelle Fultz

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Usually, it’s LaVar Ball that makes news for what he says.

His eldest son is now getting in on the business of generating headlines with something other than his play.

The UCLA star, who said he’ll enter the draft after just one season with the Bruins, claimed he’s the better prospect than Washington freshman Markelle Fultz, who many have pegged as the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

“Markelle’s a great player,” Ball said, according to ESPN, “but I feel I’m better than him,” “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

Not exactly inflammatory stuff – like saying you could have beaten Michael Jordan, that you want a $1 billion apparel deal or a number of things his father has said – bu Ball is certainly projecting confidence. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s quite a bit of money – and pride – at stake with the draft, and Ball put up a season worthy of comparison to Fultz, who had great numbers but played for an abysmal Washington team. Ball, on the other had, had strong numbers while leading UCLA to the Sweet 16.

Both are going to go at the top of a draft that’s stocked full of promising point guards. Which player goes before the other remains to be seen, but it’s likely public pronouncements aren’t going to affect the draft order.

 

UMass hires McCall away from Chattanooga

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UMass has found, once more, the man to take over its basketball program.

The Minutemen have reached an agreement with Chattanooga coach Matt McCall, the school announce Wednesday

“The tradition and resources that are in place not only make this one of the best basketball jobs in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” McCall said in a statement released by the school, “but one of the best jobs in the country. We couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of the UMass family and look forward to building upon the rich tradition that has been established here in the past.”

In McCall’s two years at Chattanooga, the Mocs to the NCAA tournament in 2016 and a 19-12 record this year that featured five-straight losses to end the season.

The move will take McCall out of the southeast for the first time in his career as he previously served as at Florida and Florida Atlantic before getting his first head coaching job at Chattanooga.

McCall wasn’t the Minutemen’s first choice to replace Derek Kellogg after three-straight lackluster seasons. Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey had agreed to take the job before a last-minute about-face that saw him return to the Eagles program just before his introductory press conference was scheduled to begin.

“Matt is a rising star in college basketball coaching who has been a key piece of three successful programs in his career,” UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “He has earned a reputation as a relentless worker, a great teammate and colleague and a confident leader of young men.

“Matt has worked with some of the most respected coaches and administrators in the country, who loudly sing his praises. Coach McCall’s appointment begins an exciting new chapter for our tradition-rich men’s basketball program at UMass.”

Despite being the second choice, McCall’s reputation in the coaching industry makes him a strong hire, having worked under Mike Jarvis and Billy Donovan. He took over at Chattanooga for Will Wade, and brought the Mocs to a 29-6 record and a  12-seed in the NCAA tournament in 2016.

UMass went to just one NCAA tournament under Kellogg (in 2014) during his nine seasons leading the Minutemen.

VIDEO: Frank Martin’s sideline demeanor as a high school coach

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South Carolina coach Frank Martin has the reputation of being rather, shall we say, intense on the sidelines during games.

The coach has a stare that seemingly could bore a hole through his players when they do something that doesn’t reach his level of expectation. Martin’s demeanor, though, didn’t just come into form once he hit the college ranks.

He was plenty intense on high school sidelines as well.

Martin won three titles while at Miami Senior in the mid-1990s, coaching the likes of future pros Steve Blake and Udonis Haslem. Now having reached his first career Final Four, that sideline persona has put him on the precipice of winning yet another championship, this time at the collegiate level.