Seven (more) Takeaways from Nike’s Peach Jam

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The second of July’s three live periods ended at 5:00 p.m. Sunday. We had writers traversing the southeast, going to and from the Under Armour Association Finals and Nike’s Peach Jam. Here are seven takeaways from Peach Jam:

MOREQuotables Part I | Part II | Part III | All content from the 2014 July Live Period

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — The second week of the July live evaluation period is in the books and CBT‘s Rob Dauster and myself spent a couple of days at the Nike Peach Jam, one of the most prestigious events of the summer. You can read Rob’s seven takeaways from the event here, but here are some additional thoughts on the EYBL Finals.

1. Ben Simmons needs to develop a consistent jumper to maximize his potential: Ben Simmons is one of the most complete players in the country. After all, he is the No. 1 player in the 2015 class. But while the Australian can handle the ball, pass, rebound and defend, one thing is missing from his game if he wants to maximize his potential: a consistent jump shot. Simmons can score driving left or right, but he still has to knock down some jumpers in order to keep defenders completely honest. Team Penny packed the paint with five guys and forced Simmons to find other options, or go through traffic in order to score, and it was a big reason why E1T1 was eliminated from the Peach Jam. Simmons only shot 29 percent from the three-point line in 13 EYBL games this spring and summer and shot 62 percent from the free-throw line. While Simmons also shot 63 percent from the field in the EYBL, it’s more a testament to his very good shot selection than owning a good jumper. If Simmons gets more consistent knocking down his jump shot, good luck trying to defend him.

2. Malik Monk is a summer in the weight room away from being a major problem: Class of 2016 6-foot-3 guard Malik Monk has made headlines for some tremendous scoring performances. There was the 59-point outburst in Sacramento in April and also dropped a 40 spot in North Augusta. But the games before and after the 40-point outing at Peach Jam weren’t particularly good. Monk is a great prospect and scorer, but you can tell he still gets fatigued and it changes his game as a scorer. Once Monk can add some more muscle to his slight frame, that should give him more energy and strength to score at will game-in and game-out. But there is no question that Monk is in the conversation as a top-5 player in the class.

3. Best point guard in the 2015 class is up for grabs between Isaiah Briscoe and Jalen Brunson: This will be a fun debate until after the senior All-Star games next spring. While Brunson was spectacular during the high school season, Briscoe has had a tremendous summer, which includes co-MVP at the Pangos All-American Camp and leading the New Jersey Playaz to the title at Peach Jam. While other guards like Juwan Evans are in this debate, as well, the 6-foot-3 Briscoe and 6-foot-2 Brunson get the slight edge, for now, because of their size at the position. Both Briscoe and Brunson are big-game players who love to win and it will be interesting to track their development — and recruitments — the next few months. CBT‘s Rob Dauster believes Briscoe is more of a combo, but I disagree. He’s a heck of a passer that can set other guys up for easy baskets, but Briscoe can also score the ball.

4. Tyler Davis is on the brink of being mentioned among the 2015 classes’ elite big men: The 2015 class has a number of elite big men, but Texas native Tyler Davis is rarely in the conversation. The 6-foot-10 big man should be at least mentioned after some strong outings at Peach Jam. When Davis gets deep post position — which he does with frequency — he’s a problem because of his size, hands and footwork. If Davis can continue to lose more weight and add some more post moves, he could be an All-American by season’s end.

5. Florida got a good one in KeVaughn Allen: Florida commit KeVaughn Allen had a solid effort at Peach Jam and he was a big reason why Team Penny was competing for a championship. The 6-foot-2 guard gets good elevation on his jumper and can knock them down from many spots on the floor and he also displayed some ability as a passer this week. Billy Donovan has had some really good guards over the years and if Allen can play as well as he did at Peach Jam while continuing his development, he could be next in that long line. Allen’s even-keeled demeanor will help in big games.

6. Chris Clarke could play for my team any day: Chris Clarke is one bad dude. The do-it-all wing is as rugged and competitive as they come and he defends and hustles for the entire game. Although his offensive arsenal isn’t advanced, Clarke gets it done by utilizing the baseline well and taking shots that are within his comfort zone. The 6-foot-6 wing isn’t as polished as some of his classmates, but he does anything that it takes to win and his skill level will only improve.

7. Parents can have a big impact on the recruitment of their kids: One of the themes of the first two weeks of July has been some parents overdoing it when it comes to handling their child’s youth basketball careers. I’ve talked to a handful of college coaches this month who mentioned not recruiting certain players specifically because their parents were too much of a handful to deal with away from the court. Some parents were sitting on team benches, constantly screaming at officials and making a fuss with coaches over playing time. While this kind of thing happens at events besides the Peach Jam, parents yelling at officials seemed to be all too common in North Augusta. I understand a parent wanting the best for their child, but many coaches don’t want to deal with the headache that some parents present. Consider yourself warned, basketball parents. College coaches are also looking at you while recruiting your kid.

VIDEO: Presbyterian’s Toss for Tots night earns technical foul for charity

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Presbyterian College held an cool and unique fundraiser this week.

In a game against Toccoa Falls, the Blue Hose held what will now be an annual Toss for Tots event. It was simple: after the first basket of their game on Thursday night, fans in attendance were asked to throw a stuffed animal onto the court, with every stuffed animal earmarked for a local elementary school.

Presbyterian ate the technical foul for the cause:

In total, 108 stuffed animals were “donated”.

The program had partnered with Bailey Elementary School, where there are 103 students. On Friday, the team delivered every student at the school one of the stuffed animals for Christmas. Head coach Dustin Kerns told NBC Sports that the team spent some times with the kids today as well, reading to the team and putting a smile on their face.

“Proud of our team,” Kerns, who is in his first year with the program, said. The win against Toccoa Falls was the fifth in a row for the Blue Hose, the first time the program has accomplished that since going to the Division I level. They are not 6-5 on the season after winning five games a year ago. “It was fun seeing out program give back.”

Presbyterian Sports Information Dept
Presbyterian Sports Information Dept

Rape charges will not be filed after last year’s incident in Kansas basketball dorm

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The Douglas County District Attorney’s office will not file sexual assault charges stemming from a report that a 16-year old girl was raped nearly a year ago in the Kansas basketball dorm.

“After an exhaustive review of all available reports, evidence and testimony, our office has determined there is not sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a sexual assault occurred,” District Attorney Charles Branson told the Lawrence Journal-World. “Unless additional evidence or reports come to light there is insufficient evidence to prove a crime was committed.”

What’s more, a suspect in the investigation was never actually identified, the paper reported. All five witnesses in the rape report were members of the men’s basketball team. The incident allegedly occurred in McCarthy Hall, which is a dorm where 40 Kansas students live, including all members of the men’s basketball team.

No. 8 Kentucky maturing, more challenges ahead for freshmen

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky coach John Calipari hasn’t hidden his frustration about the learning curve of his latest group of talented freshmen.

And while the No. 8 Wildcats are starting play better, they’re bracing for more challenges ahead.

Kentucky has struggled to put away opponents such as Utah Valley, Vermont, Troy and Harvard, efforts that players and Calipari acknowledge have contributed to a perceived lack of national respect. On the other hand, their lone loss — a 65-61 setback to Kansas — showed their ability to compete with college basketball’s heavyweights.

“It was one of the big games they got to see,” sophomore forward Wenyen Gabriel said. “The feeling and high intensity of the game, people watching, the fight in a big game like that, it really started to hit. Some players really started to get rolling off of that.

“We’re starting to get better as a team, individuals are getting better and we’re trending upward and trying to stay on that path.”

Kentucky (8-1) has begun running away from opponents, a promising trend it hopes to continue against upcoming Power Five conference foes.

Saturday’s home game against Virginia Tech (9-1) opens a daunting year-ending stretch for the Wildcats that includes next weekend’s matchup against UCLA in New Orleans; their annual in-state rivalry showdown against Louisville on Dec. 29; and their Southeastern Conference opener against Georgia on New Year’s Eve.

Though Calipari still hopes February will reveal Kentucky’s true strengths, he’s eager to see how the Wildcats stack up against the Atlantic Coast Conference Hokies, who lead the nation in scoring at 96.2 points per game and rank second in 3-point shooting at 47 percent.

“They have three or four guys that can absolutely make 3s,” Calipari said Friday while listing other Tech strengths. “They’re looking for layups and kicking it out for 3s and they’re getting to the line because of it.

“They’re not afraid. They go on the road in big games. Their home games are craziness. This is plugged into our schedule at a time where we need to learn about us, and we will.”

After a busy November without much practice time, Kentucky has welcomed a lighter December schedule that has allowed the Wildcats more time for workouts and to build chemistry.

The Wildcats have a long way to go, but games such as last week’s 93-76 win over Monmouth are encouraging for Kentucky fans.

Besides continuing their solid shooting — the Wildcats rank 22nd at nearly 51 percent — redshirt freshman guard Hamidou Diallo (23 points) and forward PJ Washington (20) posted career scoring highs against Monmouth. Kentucky also succeeded with a smaller lineup and has been effective playing a zone defense, which Calipari disdains but has used because of his team’s length.

“They’re as long as anybody in the country,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said of Kentucky. “We’ll have to work really hard to get the same shots we’ve been getting.”

Kentucky remains short-handed with freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt (foot) and guard Jemarl Baker (knee) sidelined by injuries. But the Wildcats appear to be developing depth.

They faced Monmouth without sophomore forward Sacha Killeya-Jones (sprained ankle) before starting guard Quade Green left in the second half after being poked in the eye. Both will be available against the Hokies and return knowing that the bench can fill the void after it combined for a season-high 27 points.

Granted, Monmouth is not a barometer for success against the likes of Tech, UCLA or Louisville. But considering Kentucky’s early struggles, any growth is welcome.

“We think highly of ourselves as a team,” Gabriel added. “I think we deserve more credit than we’re getting, so we’re going to go out there and try to earn it.”

Arizona State rising fast beyond the desert

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona State has taken college basketball by devilish hurricane, running and gunning its way into the national consciousness while igniting an often-blase local fan base.

Even the Sun Devils’ rivals down south have taken notice.

“Bobby Hurley, he’s en route right now to be one of the coaches talked about for national coach of the year because of what he’s done with their program,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said of the coach of his biggest rival. “He’s played a tough nonconference schedule. It shows some guts to play who they play. Their results speak really clearly. They might be underrated where they’re at right now.”

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, at least not yet.

The Sun Devils were expected to be better in Hurley’s third season in the desert. They returned three senior guards and finally got them some front-court help with the addition of Romello White and De’Quon Lake.

Kodi Justice, ASU’s 6-foot-5 guard, would no longer have to guard 7-footers. Arizona State would be better defensively and on the glass. The guards would not have to carry the entire load.

Even so, the Sun Devils were projected to be at the middle of the Pac-12, picked to finish sixth.

The big jump was supposed to be next season, when a trio of transfers will be eligible and could possibly lead the Sun Devils to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2014.

This breakneck band of Devils spun the narrative forward a year early.

Playing with a confidence bordering on cocky and with an offensive freedom afforded them by their coach, the Sun Devils have pushed their way into the national spotlight.

They made a blip by beating Xavier, No. 15 at the time but now No. 10 in the AP Top 25 . Blew the Musketeers away, actually, turning a 15-point first-half deficit into a 102-86 rout with an onslaught of fast breaks and 3-pointers.

Arizona State next moved into the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2008-09, coming in at No. 20 after the win over Xavier. The Sun Devils climbed four spots the next week.

The catapult launched last Sunday: Arizona State 95, No. 2 Kansas 85. At Allen Fieldhouse.

One of the biggest wins in program history led to another bit of history: A No. 5 ranking this week, ASU’s highest since reaching No. 3 in 1980-81. The Sun Devils even garnered the first No. 1 votes as a program. Five of ’em, actually.

Now Arizona State is 9-0 and being mentioned as a possible national-title contender. Yeah, really.

“I knew the success was going to be better, but you don’t expect necessarily when you look at a schedule to run the table up to this point, and beat the type of teams we’ve beaten,” Hurley said. “So you just appreciate it and then you kind of move on and get ready for the next battle.”

Arizona State’s success starts with its quartet of fearless guards, turning Arizona State into “Guard U.”

With carte blanche from Hurley to shoot from anywhere at almost any time, they’ve gone from carrying the load last season to ferrying the Sun Devils closer to college basketball’s upper echelon.

Tra Holder has transformed himself from steady freshman to unquestioned, sometimes nasty senior floor leader. He scored 40 points against Xavier and leads Arizona State with 21.2 points per game. He also grabs 5.6 rebounds, dishes out 5.2 assists and won consecutive Pac-12 player of the week honors, a first by a Sun Devil since James Harden in 2008.

Shannon Evans II followed Hurley from Buffalo, had to sit out a season as a transfer and was solid as a junior, averaging 15 points per game. The 6-1 guard had become go-to guy 1-A this season, second on the team with 19 points while matching Holder in assists. Big shots? He’s go those, too, including a clutch 3 to kill a Kansas rally in one of the loudest atmospheres in the game.

Justice plays with Pete Maravichian flair, has a range that seems to extend to the opposing team’s free-throw line.

Then there’s Remy Martin. The freshman guard is more spiced rum than cognac, playing with a confidence and intensity well beyond his years.

Martin treats irritation by the opposing team’s point guard as the highest honor, often nodding his bouncy hair in approval when he officially finds his way under their skin. He was the spark off the bench against Kansas, finishing with 21 points and five steals.

“They are now freed up to be who they are more,” Hurley said. “I think they would have shown that on a more regular basis last year if I had done my job a little better and sooner and gotten them some help.”

That help is here and the Sun Devils are running and gunning with it.

Follow John Marshall on Twitter @jmarshallap

Oklahoma State dismisses two players

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STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State has dismissed junior Davon Dillard and freshman Zack Dawson from the team for failing to meet unspecified standards set by the program.

Coach Mike Boynton says he could not “make compromises in our core values when it comes to individual players.” Dillard and Dawson were suspended before the season for reasons the school has not disclosed. Dawson missed one game and Dillard missed the first five.

Oklahoma State (7-2) faces No. 19 Florida State (9-0) in Sunrise, Florida, on Saturday.