NORTH AUGUSTA, SC — Tournament play is underway at the Nike Peach Jam and that meant for some intense games on Saturday as the quarterfinals began and teams tried to stay alive for Sunday.
Lawson brothers come up big in quarterfinals: Team Penny was facing a major test when they had to face Ben Simmons and E1T1 in the quarterfinals of the 17U bracket on Saturday night.
But the Lawson brothers, K.J. and Dedric, came prepared.
The brothers each scored 23 points as Team Penny pulled away in the second half of a 93-76 win. Dedric, a 6-foot-8 Class of 2016 forward, was particularly impressive. His 23 points seemed rather quiet, but he owned the glass with 16 rebounds and also did all of that damage on 10-for-16 shooting in only 23 minutes of play.
K.J., a Memphis commit and Class of 2015 wing forward, was a less efficient 8-for-20 from the field, but also added 13 rebounds and the entire Team Penny team did a nice job of clogging the middle and slowing down the No. 1 player in the 2015 class, Ben Simmons.
Simmons, an LSU commit, logged 24 points and 10 rebounds, but most of those points came either at the free-throw line or in garbage time.
With the Lawson brothers’ father, Keelon, being hired as an assistant at Memphis just this week, it is very likely both brothers eventually end up at Memphis. K.J. is already committed and Dedric is thought to be choosing between the Tigers and Kentucky, with Memphis having a big family advantage.
Chris Clarke, the warrior: There aren’t many players in the 2015 class that play as hard as Boo Williams 6-foot-6 wing Chris Clarke. The hard-playing wing doesn’t have the prettiest offensive game, but he’ll defend his tail off, make a ton of hustle plays and hit the glass hard.
Clarke was an absolute terror in a morning pool play win over Spiece and he was simply everywhere on the floor. The four-star prospect registered 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting (2-for-2 3PT), nine rebounds and seven assists. It isn’t just filling up the box score that is impressive about Clarke, it is the intensity at which he plays. His level of play elevates teammates and he’s a big reason why Boo Williams is still alive entering Sunday’s final four at Peach Jam.
UConn offered Clarke on Saturday and it will be interesting to see if other blueblood programs inquire about Clarke in the coming weeks.
Ivan Rabb and Stephen Zimmerman come up big: The Oakland Soldiers were facing a potential elimination from Peach Jam on Saturday until their two five-star big men, Ivan Rabb and Stephen Zimmerman, made big plays and carried them to victory.
While each of them only scored 14 points, the duo’s savvy and toughness on the inside helped will the Soldiers to victory.
With Team Final throwing a small lineup on the floor, Rabb had 14 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks and altered numerous other shots with his length and athleticism. Although he missed some bunnies at the rim, the 6-foot-9 Rabb has such a good secondary jump, that he’s able to tip in his own misses rather frequently and it also doesn’t hurt that he’s comfortable with either hand on the offensive end.
Zimmerman, a 7-footer and fellow five-star Class of 2015 big man, also had 14 points, but made some big scoring plays in the post against the smaller lineup for some key crunch time baskets.
Two plays in particular stand out for Zimmerman. On one, he turned and faced a smaller opponent before realizing his mismatch and backing him down for an easy basket inside. On another, Rabb had picked up his dribble and Zimmerman gave him an out by sealing his man on the block. Rabb found Zimmerman with the entry feed and an easy bucket ensued.
Rabb and Zimmerman didn’t have the gaudiest of stat lines on Saturday in the win, but their high IQ plays down the stretch helped lead the Soldiers to victory and the final eight of the Peach Jam.