Peach Jam

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.

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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.”

Peach Jam mixtape for five-star 2015 guard Isaiah Briscoe (VIDEO)

(Scott Phillips/NBCSports.com)
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Isaiah Briscoe helped lead the New Jersey Playaz to a title at the Nike Peach Jam and the five-star guard is highly sought after in the Class of 2015.

Here’s a new mixtape, courtesy of Courtside Films that shows the No. 13 overall prospect in the 2015 class in action.

The 6-foot-3 guard is down to Arizona, UConn, Louisville, Rutgers, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova.

Four-star Class of 2016 guard Bruce Brown gave up football to focus on basketball

(Scott Phillips/NBCSports.com)
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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — Before focusing on a promising basketball future, Class of 2016 guard Bruce Brown was a two-sport athlete.

Besides hooping, the 6-foot-3 power guard was a football player. Brown played wide receiver at his old high school, Wakefield High (Massachusetts), as a sophomore until he transferred to Vermont Academy.

Brown was a standout wide receiver and hated giving up the game, but he’s now thriving on the basketball court.

“I love playing football; I was a wide receiver,” Brown told NBCSports.com. “I stopped playing because my [new school] doesn’t have it, but I think it helps me [on the basketball court].”

The loss of football not only affected Brown, but it also hurt his brother. “[He] loved when I played football. So it was kind of hard,” Brown added.

Playing football helped give Brown a certain toughness that he now carries over into basketball. Although Brown twisted his left ankle twice in the two weeks leading up to the July live evaluation period, he still played on it and thrived enough to earn multiple scholarship offers.

“It’s been tough because I did it twice in two weeks. So I try to ice every day and make sure to keep it ready to play,” Brown said.

After a strong spring and start to July, Brown appears to have made the correct decision in sticking with basketball. He’s currently regarded as the No. 53 overall prospect in Rivals‘ Class of 2016 rankings, and Brown helped lead BABC to the Peach Jam.

Brown told NBCSports.com that Michigan, Minnesota, VCU, Wake Forest and Xavier have all offered scholarships while Providence, Virginia Tech and Arizona State have offered in recent days. The guard averaged 14.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in 21 EYBL contests this season.

The recruiting process is still early for Brown, but he wants to play for a school that runs an offense that fits him.

“Just the style of offense. I like to score so that’s something I’ll look at,” Brown said of factors in his decision. “Whatever the coach needs me to do, I’ll do it.”

Brown also has one visit lined up for the month of August and it’s a school that recently offered.

“I think I’m going to visit Providence sometime in August,” Brown said.

With some strong play in the EYBL this season, Brown will be a guard to track next spring and summer when his recruiting really heats up. The Class of 2016 has a lot of good guards and Brown will have a chance to make his case with two more seasons of high school basketball.

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.

Seven Takeaways from Nike’s Peach Jam

Ben Simmons (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)
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Kelly Kline/Under Armour

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

NURTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — Peach Jam is the premiere event of July, as Nike’s EYBL circuit holds their finals in a South Carolina gym that has been the home to the event for close to two decades. Every high major head coach in the country makes their way through Riverview Park Activities Center, the best games have fans surrounding the court on the floor as well as the track above and the semifinals and title game are broadcast on ESPNU.

There are 24 teams that participate in the event, and if you’re good enough to start for one of those 24 teams, odds are pretty good that you’ll be, at the very least, a scholarship player at the mid-major level. It’s high level basketball, and here are seven takeaways from my three days there:

1. Ben Simmons is No. 1 in 2015, and it’s not all that close: 2015 is considered by many to be a relatively weak class when compared to the kind of talent that was produced in 2013 and 2014 and the amount of elite prospects there are in 2016. Simmons is the one guy in the class that stands out from the rest, proving that fact to just about every scout and evaluator that was present in North Augusta this week. He’s a 6-foot-8 forward with a strong frame and above-average athleticism, but what sets him apart is his ability to handle and pass the ball. He can rebound the ball and play in the post, but he’s at his best when he’s put in the role of point forward, particularly in transition, where he is simply a phenomenal passer.

If you want a good comparison, think about former Iowa State forward Royce White. Their physical tools aren’t the same, but Simmons, like White, is an ambidextrous forward that could one day end up leading a team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals.

RELATED: Ben Simmons proves he’s tops in the class

2. Jayson Tatum is the best prospect in 2016: I’ve now had a chance to see, in person, each member of the top ten in the Class of 2016, per Rivals, and for my money, the 6-foot-8 Missouri-native in the best talent in the class. But where Simmons is clearly the best player in his class, it’s not quite as simple in 2016. Josh Jackson, Thon Maker, Dennis Smith Jr. and Malik Monk are truly impressive talents, and Harry Giles was considered by some to be the best prospect in high school basketball before his knee injury last summer.

He still may be, but as of right now, it’s Tatum that is top of the class. He’s a smooth scorer with long arms and an ability to seemingly glide to the rim through traffic. He needs to add strength and a perimeter shot, and I have questions about just how athletic he is, but he still has two years left in the high school ranks.

RELATED: Will Tatum stay home for college?

3. Isaiah Briscoe isn’t a point guard, but I’d take him over Allonzo Trier: One of the most interesting debates in the Class of 2015 centers around the five combo-guards at the top of the class: Malik Newman, Antonio Blakeney, Tyler Dorsey, Briscoe and Trier. Perhaps no team has more on the line in that debate than Arizona, who has already parted ways with Dorsey, is heavily involved with Briscoe and Trier and who has already taken Justin Simon.

The way I see it, if I’m in Arizona’s position, I’m taking Briscoe. While some have labeled him as a point guard at the next level, I don’t see it. He’s a playmaker — a good one, at that — but I don’t see him as a guy that runs an offense. And while Trier is a very talented scorer, he’s old for his grade, he’s bounced around high schools and he’s a gunner at heart.

For what it’s worth, if I went to rank those five guys, it would be in this order: Newman, Blakeney, Briscoe, Trier, Dorsey.

4. None of 2015’s big men are overly impressive: In the last month, I’ve seen everyone one of the big men in Rivals’ top 40 in the Class of 2015 play in person, and none of them have been all that impressive. (I’m not counting Simmons as a big man as I think he will be a perimeter player down the road.) There are a lot of guys in the class with lots of potential that simply haven’t developed, a number of kids that have fallen in love with trying to play on the perimeter, or and some simply have a massive hole in their game that will be difficult to fix.

Here are my top five bigs in the class, in order: Diamond Stone, Henry Ellenson, Chase Jeter, Stephen Zimmerman, Ivan Raab.

5. How will Jalen Brunson handle everything going on in his life right now?: I feel for Jalen Brunson. It’s the most important summer of his high school basketball career and he’s playing it with his father’s arrest hanging over his head. A month ago, it seemed certain that Rick Brunson was going to be hired at Temple and Jalen was going to be following him there, and according to those that watch Brunson the most — including our Scott Phillips — Jalen just hasn’t looked like himself since then. He’s still probably the most sought-after point guard in the country, but it will be interesting to see if this is the kind of thing that hangs over his head for a long period of time.

6. Deyonta Davis needs to learn how to be tougher: When it comes to raw talent, there are many players in the class with the skillset that Davis has. He’s long and athletic and he’s got three-point range. The problem is that he rarely plays hard enough to have an impact on a game. When you’re that skilled and you can disappear as quickly as Davis can, it’s a major red flag. Hopefully, when Tom Izzo gets his hands on Davis, he can bring out more of that aggressiveness.

7. Four names that need more attention after their play at Peach Jam:

  • Quinndary Weatherspoon: I watched the 6-foot-5 wing from the Jackson Tigers put up 32 points against the Southern Stampede. He also dropped 27 on Peach Jam finalist Team Penny.
  • Braxton Beverly: The Class of 2016 point guard from Hazard, Ky., played very well in both of the games that I watched him. He’s tough as nails, he doesn’t turn the ball over and he can get to the rim and finish amongst the trees despite being 5-foot-11.
  • Alterique Gilbert: Another Class of 2016 point guard that shined during the event. The Miller Grove, Ga., native is a nightmare to try to stay in front of and has a steady demeanor on the floor that is ideal for a lead guard.
  • Temple Gibbs: Gibbs was really impressive in helping the Playaz to the Peach Jam title. The Class of 2016 guard is a combo of his brothers, former Pitt guard Ashton and current Seton Hall guard Sterling. He may be the best of the three.

Nike Peach Jam Friday Recap: Malik Monk shows out, plus Stephen Zimmerman, Prince Ali

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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C . — The Class of 2016 is shaping up to be quite impressive at the top, and while names like Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and Dennis Smith have rung out across the country, there is a very real argument to make that 6-foot-3 Arkansas Wings guard Malik Monk is the most impressive player in the class.

He’s certainly the most explosive, and I’m not just talking about his leaping ability.

On Friday night, in front of coaches like Bill Self and John Calipari, Monk put on an absolute show. He scored 40 points in a win over Team Penny — which includes the Lawson brothers and Florida commit KeVaughn Allen on the roster. He hit threes from 25 feet, finishing 6-for-10 from beyond the arc and 14-for-20 from the floor. Three times in the first half he threw down vicious dunks after knifing through traffic in the half court. He made no-look passes that drew just as many oohs-and-aahs as those dunks, collecting six boards and five assists in the process.

On a day when Allonzo Trier dropped 35 points and Jalen Brunson went for 34, Monk’s performance was by far the most dominant of the day and, in all likelihood, will go down as the most dominant of the event.

And it’s not even close to the best game he played on the EYBL circuit.

That would be the 59 points he put up on All Ohio Red out in Sacramento back in August. He hit 10 threes in that game and got to the foul line 23 times. That pretty succinctly sums up what Monk is able to do with the ball in his hands, and gives you a feel for why programs like Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana, Baylor and Memphis have already offered him a scholarship, although the consensus right now seems to be that Florida and Arkansas are the favorites. Monk is a native of Bentonville, Ark., and his brother played football and basketball for the Razorbacks. He is a must-get recruit for Mike Anderson, and not just because he is the ideal two-guard for Anderson’s system.

It’s not all big shooting numbers and highlight reel dunks for Monk, however, as he still has a tendency to mix in a 3-for-11 night too often. The game before he went for 40 he finished with just eight points and 1-for-8 shooting from three in a 15-point loss.

The thing to remember is that Monk is a member of the Class of 2016.

He’s doing all of this while playing up a level.

What happens when, in a year, he goes up against guys that are in his age group?

Quinndary Weatherspoon shines with Malik Newman out: The biggest news on the first day of Peach Jam was that the hand that Newman injured at the LeBron James Skills Academy would keep Rivals’ No. 2 player in the Class of 2015 out of the tournament. That was bad news for the Jackson Tigers, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Weatherspoon, as he lit up Southern Stampede and top 30 recruit Prince Ali to the tune of 32 points in front of a handful of high major coaches.

“I feel good about the way I played but it’s hard because I’m disappointed with the loss,” Weatherspoon said after the Tigers moved to 0-4 in the event. He lists offers from Tennessee, Georgia, Wichita State, Oklahoma, Murray State and Mississippi State.

Speaking of Prince Ali …: He only played the first half in that game. He didn’t look like himself, and after getting cursed out by his coach at halftime, he spent the second half sitting at the trainer’s table and then did not play for Southern Stampede in their evening game. When I asked him why, he said it’s because he hurt his ankle.

Stephen Zimmerman needs to be more assertive: I got my first look at Stephen Zimmerman this spring, and the 7-footer from Las Vegas played well in a win for his Oakland Soldiers team. Zimmerman is a terrific passer for a player his size, but at times it seems he becomes too reliant on it. Playing against a team that didn’t have anyone on their roster over 6-foot-7, Zimmerman’s first instinct on every post touch he got was to pass. To be fair, he was being doubled, but the only time he made a quick move — a lefty jump hook on the right block — he scored.