Seven (more) Takeaways from Nike’s Peach Jam

Leave a comment

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.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Sweet 16 betting odds and national title futures

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With four more top threes falling out of the NCAA tournament on Sunday, here are the updated national title futures and betting odds in the NCAA tournament.

Odds via

Villanova: 4/1
Duke: 6/1
Michigan: 8/1
Kentucky: 8/1
Kansas: 10/1
Gonzaga: 12/1
Purdue: 15/1
West Virginia: 22/1
Texas Tech: 25/1
Nevada: 100/1
Texas A&M: 100/1
Loyola Chicago: 100/1
Clemson: 125/1
Kansas State: 125/1
Syracuse: 125/1
Florida State: 150/1

No. 5 West Virginia earns blowout win over in-state rival No. 13 Marshall

Getty Images
1 Comment

West Virginia completely dominated in-state rival and No. 13 seed Marshall for a 94-71 second-round win in the NCAA tournament on Sunday night.

The No. 5 Mountaineers (26-10) made it back to the Sweet 16 for the second straight campaign, and for the third time in four years, as senior guard and All-American Jevon Carter had another monster outing with 28 points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals.

West Virginia went 12-for-25 from three-point range and crashed the glass for 15 offensive rebounds during an impressive offensive performance. It’s also notable that head coach Bob Huggins changed up his defensive approach during some of this game from the usual “Press” Virginia. Going to a 1-2-2 zone to disrupt Marshall’s high-powered offense, 6-foot-8 Lamont West was stationed at the top of the zone as his length gave the Thundering Herd offense issues.

West Virginia, and Carter in particular, look like they mean business with the way they played this opening weekend. While many teams in the field had either upset losses or close scares, the Mountaineers won by an average margin of victory of 20 points in two wins this weekend. West Virginia only faced a No. 12 and No. 13 seed, but the Mountaineers never let off the gas the entire weekend.

Marshall (25-11) was a fun team to watch in this tournament because of its uptempo offense and propensity to shoot deep three-pointers. America learned about junior guard Jon Elmore and his ridiculous range in the Thundering Herd’s upset win over No. 4 seed Wichita State on Friday afternoon.

But Elmore (15 points) and fellow guard C.J. Burks (12 points) struggled to knock down shots in this one as they combined to go 7-for-27 from the field on Sunday. Ajdin Paneva led Marshall with 18 points as he was the team’s only consistent offensive option.

The Thundering Herd were blown out by a superior team on Sunday, but Dan D’Antoni’s ballclub was one of the most pleasant surprises of this tournament. After winning the Conference USA tournament and eliminating the Shockers in the Big Dance, D’Antoni has established some legitimate credibility for his program. And with minimal seniors on the roster, Marshall could be in position to make another run to the tournament next season.

With the win, West Virginia advances to play No. 1 seed Villanova in the East Regional in Boston on Friday night. After getting multiple chances to tie the game on the final possession and failing to convert during a memorable loss to No. 1 seed Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 last season, the Mountaineers will have a lot of motivation when they tip against the Wildcats.

The backcourt matchup between Villanova’s Jalen Brunson and Carter might also be the most riveting individual matchup of the entire tournament. Not only are Brunson and Carter both All-Americans this season, but they’re also former AAU teammates who are very familiar with each other’s games.

In a Sweet 16 full of unusual matchups and surprise teams, the Villanova/West Virginia game is appointment television.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Sweet 16 tip times, TV channels, announcer pairings

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With the first weekend of the NCAA tournament in the books, the Sweet 16’s tip times and TV assignments have been announced for teams looking to book a trip to the Elite 8. All times Eastern.


ATLANTA: Brian Anderson, Chris Webber, Lisa Byington

  • 7:07 p.m.: No. 11 Loyola-Chicago vs. No. 7 Nevada, CBS
  • 9:37 p.m.: No. 9 Kansas State vs. No. 5 Kentucky, CBS

LOS ANGELES: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner, Dana Jacobson

  • 7:37 p.m.: No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 3 Michigan, TBS
  • 10:07 p.m.: No. 9 Florida State vs. No. 4 Gonzaga, TBS


OMAHA: Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson

  • 7:07 p.m.: No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 1 Kansas, CBS
  • 9:37: No. 11 Syracuse vs. No. 2 Duke, CBS

BOSTON: Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce

  • 7:27 p.m.: No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 1 Villanova, TBS
  • 9:57 p.m.: No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 2 Purdue, TBS

No. 1 goes down! No. 9 Florida State topples Xavier

Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

For the first time since 2004, two No. 1 seeds have been knocked out of the NCAA tournament before the first weekend has come to a close.

On Sunday, No. 9-seed Florida State erased a 12-point deficit in the final 10 minutes and a seven-point deficit in the final five minutes, closing the game on an 18-4 run as they toppled No. 1-seed Xavier, 75-70, to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011.

This upset came on the heels of No. 1-seed Virginia becoming the first top seed in tournament history to lose to a No. 16 seed when they fell at the hands of UMBC on Friday night. If that isn’t consolation for Xavier fans, maybe this will be: The Musketeers aren’t the only top five team from the Queen City to blow a lead on Sunday. No. 2-seed Cincinnati was dropped by No. 7-seed Nevada, who erased a 22-point lead in the final 11:43 to land the second-biggest comeback in NCAA tournament history.

With that, Florida State is on to the second weekend of the tournament. Braian Angola led the way for the Seminoles, scoring 16 points to lead five players in double-figures. It really is a fairly remarkable feat that Leonard Hamilton was able to get this team this far in the dance, but the story here is not the Seminoles.

It is Xavier.

And oh boy, do we have a lot to get to.

Let’s start with this: J.P. Macura was robbed. He picked up three fouls in the second half that were all questionable-at-best calls. The first one was a block from behind and a fast break layup. He pinned the ball on the backboard cleanly, but he drilled the shooter with his chest hard enough that getting a whistle wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

A couple minutes later, Macura cleanly picked the pocket of a Florida State’s Mfiondu Kabengele but was whistled for his fourth foul, which sent him to the bench with 8:55 left in the game and the Musketeers ahead 59-48. He came back in the game after a Florida State run cut the lead to two points, but he fouled out of the game on a questionable charge call with just over two minutes left.

Florida State outscored Xavier 27-11 after Macura’s fourth foul. It’s safe to say that those whistles changed this game.

Then there’s Trevon Bluiett. Xavier’s all-american was a non-entity on Sunday night. He finished with just eight points on 2-for-8 shooting, and while credit should be given to Florida State for the defense that they played on him, Bluiett needs to shoulder the blame as well. Mack, too. On the final possession of the game, with the Musketeers down three and just 21 seconds on the clock, Bluiett didn’t touch the ball before Kerem Kanter airballed a three with seven seconds left. On the possession prior to that, he fell down in the lane trying to score the go-ahead bucket.

It certainly wasn’t the most impressive finish that we’ve seen to a basketball game.

But that isn’t the biggest storyline coming out of this game.

Chris Mack is.

More specifically, where Chris Mack will be coaching next season is.

Mack has been at Xavier since 2004. He’s been the head coach of the Musketeers since 2009. He’s also the guy that Louisville has targeted to be their next head coach, sources told NBC Sports. Mack has been pursued by bigger programs before — he was linked and/or pursued for every big coaching hire made in the last two years, from Georgetown to Indiana to Ohio State — but Louisville may just be the job that he would consider leaving Xavier for.

Mack is a native of Cincinnati. He went to high school in Cincinnati. He graduated from Xavier. He started his coaching career for a girls JV high school team in Cincinnati. He’s Cincinnati through and through, and that would have made it hard to leave Xavier before they moved to the Big East.

But his wife is from Louisville. And the Louisville program, while mired in scandal now, is one of the ten best jobs in America. It might be top five, depending on who you ask. Rick Pitino made triple the salary that Mack is making with an ACC budget and ACC pedigree as one of the flagship basketball programs for Adidas.

Throw in the fact that this is coming at a time when Mack will be losing his two best players to graduation, and the dots connect.

We should get an answer sooner rather than later.

Until then, Xavier fans will be left to stew over a bitter end to a season that had so much promise.

If this is it for Chris Mack with the Musketeers, it sure wasn’t a storybook ending.

No. 9 Kansas State wins ugly game over upset-minded No. 16 UMBC

Getty Images
1 Comment

Kansas State held off another feisty performance from No. 16 seed UMBC as the No. 9 seed Wildcats won an ugly 50-43 game on Sunday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

America was rooting for the Retrievers, the first No. 16 seed to ever beat a No. 1 seed in the men’s NCAA tournament, after UMBC shocked America with a blowout win over Virginia on Friday night. Kansas State also gave UMBC ample opportunities to secure another upset — turning the ball over 18 times and shooting 1-for-12 from three-point range.

But after putting up 74 points against the nation’s best defense two nights ago, the Retrievers couldn’t get a shot to go in the second round.  Defense is ultimately what is taking Bruce Weber’s team to the second weekend.  UMBC shot 28 percent (14-for-47) from the field and 27 percent (6-for-22) from three-point range as they struggled to generate offense against a strong Kansas State defense.

The Wildcats (24-11) were also ugly on offense as they only shot 40 percent (18-for-44) from the field and had only two double-figure scorers — led by Barry Brown’s 18 points. Kansas State couldn’t buy a bucket from the perimeter. They had a ton of unforced errors.

It wasn’t pretty, but the only thing that matters is that Kansas State advanced to the Sweet 16 in the South Regional despite not playing particularly well. Leading by only three points with under two minutes left, the Wildcats are lucky that the Retrievers didn’t get hot from the perimeter to steal another win.

Kansas State moves on to play No. 5 seed Kentucky in Atlanta in the Sweet 16 on Thursday. The matchup of Wildcats will almost assuredly have a heavy Kentucky lean in the crowd, with many in Big Blue Nation already referring to the host city as Catlanta.

But the South Regional is wide open since all four top seeds have already been eliminated. A young Kentucky team has also been inconsistent at times during the season. It would be silly to count out Kansas State since this team has defended at a pretty high level during this tournament.

Kansas State might have earned the victory and advanced, but America fell in love with UMBC over the last few days. The magical run of the Retrievers was the reason everybody tuned in to see this game.

The program became a national story after the team’s shocking blowout win on Friday night. The Retrievers won over America with a fun underdog team and an aggressive social media presence.  It might not sink in how monumental UMBC’s win over Virginia was until we look back at it many years later.

Since taking the nation by storm as a No. 15 seed advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2013, Florida Gulf Coast has become a respected mid-major program that regularly competes for conference titles and NCAA tournament appearances. The program’s recruiting reach has also increased as the Eagles are bringing in better talent.

The school’s surprise run also had huge financial implications for the school and athletics department. According to a report from the Baltimore Sun, annual donations at FGCU went from an average of $15 million per year to $27 million per year after the Sweet 16 run. Applications for out-of-state students increased by 80 percent. The school was also able to sell gear while making a push for more season ticket holders and consistent revenue.

Regardless of Sunday’s outcome, UMBC is now a nationally-known program thanks to one special win. UMBC’s weekend perfectly encapsulates why the NCAA tournament is such a big deal for the one-bid leagues who usually get slaughtered by the bluebloods in the opening round.

The Retrievers might not have picked up a catchy original nickname like “Dunk City.” But the letters “U-M-B-C” will likely forever be synonymous with massive upsets and unlikely underdog stories. We could very well see books and documentaries get produced off of this run.

It’ll be fascinating to track the school, and the men’s basketball program, over the next several seasons to see how all of this will benefit the school. Capitalizing on this hot stretch is going to be a key for UMBC’s sustained growth.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County could see an uptick in enrollment applications and donations to its school. All because of an orange bouncing ball.