Last year's Peach Jam final (AP/Jon-Michael Sullivan)

One college coach’s unique connection to the Peach Jam

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AP/Jon-Michael Sullivan

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. The July live evaluation period came to a close on Sunday as college coaches from across America finally got the chance to return home after 15 days on the road evaluating over the last three weeks.

But for Miami (OH) assistant coach Trey Meyer, evaluating at the Nike Peach Jam during the second week of the July period meant a return home to a lifetime full of basketball memories.

A native of North Augusta, South Carolina — where the Peach Jam is played — Meyer has a unique bond with one of summer basketball’s most famous tournaments. The 28-year old Meyer has worked, played or coached in some form at the Peach Jam since he can remember.

“I don’t remember the exact year I started working it, I just remember growing up and it was something I did every year,” Meyer said to NBCSports.com.

He fondly remembers watching a high school version of Dirk Nowitzki play with an international team at Peach Jam in its early years before Meyer finally had the chance to play in the event himself with the South Carolina Ravens.

source:
Miami (OH) Athletics

Meyer once buried four three-pointers in one game at Peach Jam as a player and later returned to coach a 16U team comprised of local North Augusta players, winning a game against national competition. The North Augusta native’s long-standing relationship with the Peach Jam has made him an unofficial historian for the event.

“It’s come a long ways, I can still remember the first year they had it when they had it over at Augusta State University. It just seems like each year it just gets bigger and better,” Meyer said of the Peach Jam. “I’ve been a ball boy, scorekeeper, player, AAU coach and now I’m blessed enough to be a college coach and it has a huge impact on this community. It’s just a tremendous tournament.”

Meyer’s father, Rick, is the Director of the Riverview Park and Activities Center, where the Peach Jam is played, and the week of the event becomes a family reunion of sorts for the Meyer family.

Trey’s two younger sisters worked this year’s Peach Jam as scorekeepers, their mother usually sells t-shirts and the family’s grandparents also usually attend the Peach Jam to watch some of the best high school basketball players in the country.

The Meyer family isn’t unique with their local bond to the event. Many local fans and high school basketball players come out and pack the stands for each game and give the tournament a unique feel among grassroots events.

“It just gives North Augusta something special. Augusta has The Masters — and not that the Peach Jam is at that level — but it’s an event that people look forward to once a year,” Meyer said. “You get the best upcoming college players in the country, the best college coaches, and all of the people living in the area, they get to see their favorite coaches. It’s their own unique event. And obviously, it has a tremendous economic impact on the town because the population probably doubles when this event is going on.”

College coaches and media members that are veterans of the Peach Jam know to book hotel rooms as far as six-to-eight months in advance to make sure they don’t end up in undesirable accommodations. Restaurants and bars around town are also usually filled with coaches and fans throughout the week. But Meyer has a leg up on the out-of-towners as he still opts to stay in his childhood home with his family during the Peach Jam.

“I stay in the house I grew up in. It’s awesome,” Meyer said with a smile. “My Mom has actually formed my old bedroom into memorabilia of me and my sisters; things she’s collected over the years. So I actually sleep in one of my sister’s rooms. But home is home. I can sleep on the floor and it’s still home. They always say, ‘You can get a hotel if you want,’ and there’s no way I would do that.”

Being the local guy, Meyer also has plenty of colleagues asking for recommendations on local places to go. Meyer plays a willing host and can offer insights on a number of different places in the Augusta and North Augusta areas.

“Most people in the basketball world, if they ask me where I’m from, I’ll say, ‘North Augusta,’ and I don’t know that it really clicks, so I’ll say, ‘Where the Peach Jam is,’ and they instantly recognize it and love the place and the tournament,” Meyer said.

“I get hit up for all different things. Where to stay, where to eat, where to go at night. It’s cool, it gives me my own unique perspective for everyone else.”

The Peach Jam itself has grown quite a bit over the years. As the finals for Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, the final four and championship game of the event is now nationally televised and many casual college basketball fans that don’t follow recruiting can at least recognize the significance of the tournament every July.

From a small-town tournament covered by local publications to the current iteration that commands writers and TV personalities from across the country, Meyer still believes the Peach Jam is the best event of the summer.

“I think it’s the best of the summer. I’ve always thought that, ever since growing up,” Meyer said. “Going back to when I’ve coached and traveled to different tournaments, I think it’s the best one of the summer. I may be biased, but the food, the hospitality, the way people treat you and the way the community comes out and supports it, it’s just a special tournament.”

Duke, Cincinnati lead Hall of Fame Tip-Off

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski gestures during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Florida State in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
(AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) Duke and Cincinnati, 2016 NCAA Tournament teams, highlight the eight-team field for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.

The participants for the Nov. 19-20 event were announced Wednesday.

Also in the field are Rhode Island, Penn State, Grand Canyon, Albany, Marist and Brown.

The teams, split into two four-team brackets, will play two doubleheaders at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Duke, Cincinnati, Penn State and Rhode Island will meet in the Naismith Bracket, while the others will play in the Springfield Bracket.

The teams will play two early round games at campus sites from Nov. 11 through Nov. 16.

Brandone Francis-Ramirez transferring out of Florida

Florida State center Jean Marc Christ Koumadje (21) fouls Florida guard Brandone Francis-Ramirez (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, in Gainesville, Fla. (Matt Stamey, The Gainesville Sun via AP)
(Matt Stamey, The Gainesville Sun via AP)
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Brandone Francis-Ramirez is transferring out of the Florida program, the school announced on Wednesday.

A former top 40 recruit, Francis-Ramirez had his two seasons in Gainesville ruined by an academic issues and a loss of confidence. He was academically ineligible in 2014-15, practicing with the team during the second semester. He was granted a redshirt for the year, but he struggled to find any kind of a rhythm this past season. There was a two-month stretch in the middle of the year where he shot 6-for-58 from the floor and 2-for-31 from three.

On the season, he shot 20.2 percent from the floor and 16.9 percent from three.

“I want it to work out for him,” Gators coach Mike White said in a release. “We really appreciate what Brandone did here and wish him the best.”

One of Villanova’s title game stars undergoes knee surgery

Phil Booth, Jack McVeigh
(AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
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The forgotten star of the national title game underwent an arthroscopic on his left knee on Wednesday.

Phil Booth, who scored a season-high 20 points in the 2016 National Title game, will be a junior next season and one of the guys called upon to help replace Ryan Arcidiacono, who graduated. He should be ready to go by the middle of the summer; according to a statement put out by the program, Booth will need 6-to-8 weeks to heal.

“Phil is as mentally tough a young man as we have had at Villanova,” head coach Jay Wright said in the release. “He continually impresses our coaching staff with his outstanding attitude. Phil will attack this recovery challenge with great determination, as he does everything in life.”

Booth averaged 7.0 points and 2.2 assists this past season.

Jennings becomes seventh player to transfer from Kentucky

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell watches his team during the team's regional semifinal in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament against Washington in Lexington, Ky., Friday, March 25, 2016. Washington won 85-72. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has announced that sophomore forward Alexis Jennings will transfer, the seventh Wildcat to leave the program since last fall.

Jennings’ departure comes a week after Mitchell publicly addressed the mass exodus of players and assistant coaches and stressed the need for building stability. Jennings figured to be part of that process and the coach said in a release Wednesday night that “it saddens us that Alexis did not see a path for her at Kentucky. … She felt it was in her best interest to finish her career elsewhere and we owe her that opportunity.”

The 6-foot-2 Jennings started 18 of 33 games last season and averaged 10 points and 7.1 rebounds.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.