Michael Porter Jr., Trae Young, Quade Green headline 2016 Peach Jam top performers

Jon Lopez/Nike

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — Peach Jam is always the best AAU event of the summer, and it certainly lived up to the hype. The caliber of play isn’t comparable to any other AAU tournament because of the depth on talent on every roster. There are kids coming off the bench that will be all-league players in mid major conferences. Some teams start five guys that are top 100 players in their respective classes.

Between the level of play, the intensity in the gym and the atmosphere that is created at the Riverview Park Activities Center, there is nothing better. The one downside this year is that the U17 USA Basketball team returned from winning a gold medal in Spain and immediately went to play at Peach Jam. Given the jet lag and the timing, thanks to a cancelled flight on July 4th, it was understandable that some of the biggest names at the event — Kevin Knox, Wendell Carter, Jaren Jackson Jr., Troy Brown — didn’t play their best. They have been on the road for a month.

That set, there were many truly terrific performances there this week. Here is who stood out the most:

Trae Young, MoKan Elite: Young is not the most highly-regarded prospect on the MoKan roster — Michael Porter Jr. is, more on him in a second — but he was the best player on the floor for them this week as MoKan took home the Peach Jam title. Young averaged 27 points and 7.3 assists in eight games in North Augusta, numbers that are somewhat skewed by the pace at which MoKan plays and the amount of time he has the ball in his hands. His production and his dominance, however, cannot be questioned. Deep range, beautiful stroke, handle, court vision, the ability to finish in the lane, you name it, he can do it.

RELATED: Class of 2017 point guard dominoes ready to fall

The knock on Young, who has emerged as Kentucky’s top target in the class, has always been that he’s wired as a scorer, which works on this MoKan team and at the high school level in Oklahoma. He’s a poor decision-maker at times, forcing threes and turning the ball over too much. As he ascends through basketball’s ranks, he’s going to have to continue to learn how to be a facilitator. That should come with time, with coaching and with a team surrounding him that is as or more talented than he is.

Michael Porter Jr., MoKan Elite: Porter is the best prospect on that MoKan roster and may be the best prospect in the Class of 2017. He’s a rangy, 6-foot-9 wing with elite level athleticism, consistent three-point range, the ability to score off the bounce and a knack from grabbing a defensive board and going coast-to-coast. His ability in transition and in space is what made this MoKan team so dangerous when allowed to get up and down the floor. He averaged 26.4 points and 11.4 boards this week, going through stretches were he looked totally unstoppable.

There are some issues with Porter. He needs to add weight and strength, and for a guy whose NBA ceiling centers around his potential as a versatile defender, his lateral quickness and desire to keep in front of a defender is lacking. The biggest knock on Porter is that he’s “soft”, and that narrative is somewhat overblown. His best performance of the week came Thursday morning against Team Takeover, when he played through a twisted ankle and responded to an opponent’s jawing in his ear with 33 points, 13 boards, three assists and three steals. But on Friday night, in a MoKan win over Howard Pulley, Porter totally disappeared as Gary Trent Jr., a top ten prospect in his own right, spent the whole game sticking him with elbows and running his mouth. Porter finished with just 11 points, and his impact on the game felt even smaller.

Quade Green (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Quade Green (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Quade Green, PSA Cardinals: The Cardinals were arguably the most talented team in the Peach Jam field, with 7-foot- center Mohammad Bamba the name that everyone knows. But Green was probably the best player on the floor for this week, averaging 16.7 points and 8.3 assists in front of every college coach in the country. His performance in the semifinals, going for 21 points and six assists while leading PSA back from an 18 point deficit, is something that will stick in the minds of people for a while. Along with Young, Green has emerged as a top 2017 point guard target for the blue bloods.

Deandre Ayton, California Supreme: I don’t know that Ayton will end up being the best player in this class in ten years, but I’m not sure there is a player with a higher ceiling than his. The things that he is able to do on the offensive end of the floor are absurd. He’s 7-foot with a 7-foot-4.5 wingspan (measured at the 2014 LeBron James Skills Academy). He was hitting step-in threes as the trailer on a fast break when he wasn’t sprinting the floor and getting easy buckets off of rim-runs. He can score facing up and he can use his strength to back down even the best defenders at this level. His footwork, agility and body control is unreal for a human his size, and he’s a much better passer than I realized.

The red flag with Ayton is his competitiveness and his motor, and that can show through on the defensive end. He doesn’t protest the rim as well as you would hope given his size. But I don’t think you can question his competitiveness after seeing him totally outplay Marvin Bagley III, Mitchell Robinson and Wendell Carter in head-to-head matchups. The most impressive performance came against the 7-foot Robinson, a top 15 prospect and an elite defender at this level. Robinson got the best of him in the first half, but Ayton responded with an impressive, dominating second half performance to carry Cal Supreme to a 17-point win as he spent the final 16 minutes letting Robinson know all about the whooping he just took.

Brandon Randolph, PSA Cardinals: There is a ton of talent on the Cardinals roster, but Randolph was as impressive as anyone. A top 50 prospect, Randolph had a handful of dominant performances in front of some elite programs. He’s a dexterous and explosive athlete with a unique ability to finish around the rim and range out to the three-point line. He had one sequence on Thursday where he hit three threes, had two tough, driving layups, a mid-range jumper and a thunderous dunk in transition all in the span of about five minutes.

Brandon Randolph, Jon Lopez/Nike
Brandon Randolph, Jon Lopez/Nike

Gary Trent Jr., Howard Pulley: Trent was one of the few members of USA basketball that showed up and played immediately. And while he didn’t have his best performances — when you’re a shooter and your legs aren’t there, it’s hard to be at your best — to do what he did while playing in games that tipped after 2 a.m. Spanish time is notable.

Alex O’Connell, Team United: O’Connell didn’t actually play in the Peach Jam. He played in the Peach Invitational, which was an event held 10 minutes away that included the Nike teams that didn’t qualify for the main event. An athletic, 6-foot-5 wing with deep range, O’Connell lucked out in the sense that, on Friday, when his team squared off against Collin Sexton’s Southern Stampede squad, they did so at a time when there were no games being played at Peach Jam.

And O’Connell, who is from Milton, Georgia, went off in front of 18 high major head coaches and members of more than two dozen staffs. That night alone, he added offers from Louisville and N.C. State. Duke was sitting three-deep for Sexton that day, and it’s worth noting O’Connell’s father played for the Blue Devils.

Jose Alvarado, NY Rens: The name that everyone knew on the Rens entering Peach Jam was Hamidou Diallo, the top ten recruit that had Coach K and Coach Cal sitting court side even when he rested for the final game of pool play. And given the point guard situation this season, the way Alvarado played should help him significantly depending on the way the dominoes fall.

Deandre Ayton, Jon Lopez/Nike
Deandre Ayton, Jon Lopez/Nike

Arizona State extends Hurley through 2025-26 season

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State agreed to a contract extension with head coach Bobby Hurley that runs through the 2025-26 season.

The deal announced on Tuesday is subject to approval by the Arizona Board of Regents. Hurley’s previous contract was set to expire after next season.

“Coach Hurley has made our program relevant nationally with many significant wins and an exciting style, along with a firm commitment to the academic success of our student-athletes,” Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson said in a statement. “He has made it clear to us that he wants to be here and we have done likewise with him. We share a strong confidence in the present and future state of Sun Devil men’s basketball.”

Hurley led the Sun Devils to 23 wins this season and their third trip to the NCAA Tournament the last five times it has been played. Arizona State beat Nevada in the First Four before losing to Texas Christian on a last-second shot last Friday.

The Sun Devils have won at least 20 games four of the past six seasons. They are 141-113 in eight seasons under Hurley.

Campbell new TCU women’s coach after taking Sacramento State to NCAA

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

FORT WORTH, Texas – Mark Campbell was hired as TCU’s women’s basketball coach after the former Oregon assistant took Sacramento State to its first NCAA Tournament in an impressive and quick turnaround.

Sacramento State was coming off a 3-22 season when Campbell was hired two years ago. The Hornets won 14 games in Campbell’s first season, and then made another 11-win improvement this season while finishing 25-8 with Big Sky regular-season and tournament championships.

During his seven seasons on Oregon’s staff before that, the Ducks had some of the nation’s top recruiting classes. That included Campbell recruiting Sabrina Ionescu, who became the AP player of the year in 2020 before she was the first overall pick in the WNBA draft.

Campbell replaces Raegan Pebley, who stepped down after nine seasons as TCU’s coach with a 141-138 record. The Horned Frogs were 8-23 this season, including 1-17 in Big 12 play during the regular season.

TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati described Campbell as an elite recruiter and program builder.

“Similar to his success at Sacramento State, he was instrumental in Oregon quickly becoming one of the nation’s most successful programs, reaching their first NCAA Elite Eight and then Final Four,” Donati said.

The Frogs haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2010. That was their ninth NCAA appearance, all coming in a 10-season span without making it past the second round.

Boston College extends Earl Grant through 2028-29 season

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BOSTON – Boston College coach Earl Grant has agreed to a two-year extension that will keep him under contract through the 2028-29 season.

Grant took over as Eagles coach prior to the 2021-22 season and finished 13-20. Boston College went 16-17 this past season, but it had three wins over nationally ranked teams for the first time in 14 years.

“My family and I have enjoyed being a part of this amazing community,” Grant said in a statement. “Boston is a great city and we are glad to call it our home. I am thankful for the efforts of my staff to help move the program forward.”

The Eagles finished 9-11 in Atlantic Coast Conference play, their most wins in the league play since 2010-11. Quinten Post also became the first Boston College player to be named Most Improved Player.

In announcing the extension, athletic director Blake James expressed optimism about the direction of the program.

“Earl has done an outstanding job leading our men’s basketball program over the last two seasons and we are looking forward to him doing so for many years to come,” James said.

Pitino returns to big stage at St. John’s: ‘I’ve earned it’

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK – The video banner above the entrance to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday read: “Welcome Rick Pitino.”

More like welcome back for the new St. John’s coach.

Back to The Garden, where he once coached the Knicks.

Back to the Big East, the conference that launched his stardom and where he won his last NCAA championship.

Back to big-time college basketball after a series of scandals made it seem as if that part of his career was over.

“So, when I went to Iona, I said that Iona was going to be my last job,” Pitino said at his introductory news conference at MSG. “And the reason I said that is who’s going to hire a 70-year-old ? No matter how much I think I’m Peter Pan, who’s going hire a 70-year-old?”

St. John’s gave the Hall of Famer a six-year contract to turn back the clock on a program that once stole New York City tabloid headlines away from the Knicks in the 1980s under coach Lou Carnesecca but has been mired in mediocrity for more than two decades.

The Red Storm once played most of their biggest home games at The Garden. Pitino said the goal is to have all their Big East games played there going forward.

“Lou built a legendary program. Legendary,” Pitino said. “I’m all in with everything that St. John stands for. I’m excited about it. I can’t wait to get started.

“And it’s going to start with a culture of work.”

Pitino, who was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island, has won 832 games in 34 full seasons as a college head coach, including NCAA championships at Kentucky in 1996 and Louisville in 2013.

The title at Louisville was vacated for NCAA violations, and another NCAA case related to the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting led to Pitino being fired by Louisville in 2017.

The final ruling from the NCAA’s outside enforcement arm on the FBI case came down in November and exonerated Pitino.

There was also a criminal extortion case in which Pitino was the victim during his time at Louisville that revealed personal indiscretions.

“Well, it doesn’t matter what you believe, what you don’t believe,” Pitino said. “The one thing all my players have said, because they all wrote letters for me: I’ve never cheated the game. I never gave a player anything that he didn’t deserve in life.”

St. John’s president, the Rev. Brian Shanley, said the decision to hire Pitino was his call.

“Yeah, sure, there’s some reputational risk because of things that have happened before, but I think Rick is at a point in his life where he’s learned from things that have happened in the past,” Shanley told The Associated Press. “I think he’d be the first one to tell you he’s done things that he regrets. Who doesn’t when you get to be that age? I know I have. I’m a believer in forgiveness and new beginnings as a priest, and I think Rick’s going to do a great job for St. John’s.”

Carnesecca, 98 and getting around with the help of a walker these days, sat in the front row of Pitino’s news conference.

“I think it’s a home run with the bases loaded,” Carnesecca said.

Carnesecca was one of the Big East’s brightest coaching stars, along with Georgetown’s John Thompson and Villanova’s Rollie Massimino, when Pitino became Providence head coach in 1985 at the age of 32.

Thirty-eight years later, Pitino’s Providence ties helped him land at St. John’s after three seasons at Iona, a small Catholic school in New Rochelle, just north of New York City.

Shanley previously was the president of Providence. He helped turn around a lagging men’s basketball program by hiring coach Ed Cooley and investing in facilities upgrades.

“If I wasn’t a Providence Friar, he would have never even considered it,” Pitino said.

Shanley attempted to lure Pitino away from Louisville and back to Providence years ago, but he didn’t know much about the coach personally back then. He said he talked to a lot of people about Pitino this time around.

“I’d say my behind-the-scenes wisdom person was Mike Tranghese, the former commissioner of the Big East,” Shanley said. “He got me Ed Cooley last time, and I think we came out pretty well this time, too.”

Cooley was hired by Georgetown on Monday.

Pitino said he’s bringing his entire staff with him from Iona, which announced the hiring of Fairleigh Dickinson coach Tobin Anderson to replace Pitino earlier in the day.

Pitino will try to become the first coach to take six different schools to the NCAA Tournament as he gets one more shot on the big stage.

“I deserve it,” he said, “because I’ve earned it.”

Tobin Anderson leaving FDU to replace Rick Pitino at Iona

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NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — Tobin Anderson is leaving NCAA Cinderella Fairleigh Dickinson after one fairy-tale season and replacing Rick Pitino at Iona.

Iona athletic director Matt Glovaski announced the hiring a day after Pitino left to take the job at St. John’s of the Big East Conference.

Anderson led the No. 16 seed Knights to a win over No. 1 Purdue in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament last week, only the second time a No. 16 seed has knocked off a top-seeded team. UMBC beat No. 1 Virginia in 2018.

“Iona University represents everything my family and I were looking for in a school, a basketball program and a campus atmosphere,” Anderson said in a statement. “Our goal is to build upon the tremendous tradition of Iona basketball and elevate the program to greater heights.”

Iona of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference was knocked out of this year’s tournament by UConn on Friday.

“We have long known him to be a fantastic coach and an even better person,” Glovaski said. “Now, with his team’s impressive run in the NCAA Tournament, everyone paying attention to March Madness also knows this. We’re delighted that he will be at the helm of our men’s basketball program.”

Anderson led FDU to a 21-16 overall record and 10-6 in Northeast Conference play. The Knights lost to Merrimack in the conference title game but got the NCAA berth because Merrimack was ineligible to compete as a transitioning school from Division II.

FDU, one of the shorter teams in the 68-team field, beat Texas Southern in a First Four game and followed that with the upset over Purdue. Florida Atlantic knocked the Knights out of the tournament on Sunday.

FDU had a 4-22 record in 2021-22. Anderson was hired after running the program at St. Thomas Aquinas, located less than 25 miles (40 km) from Iona’s campus. In nine seasons, he turned the team into a perennial Top 25 program in Division II after inheriting a team that won just five games prior to his hire.

Anderson got his first taste of Division I coaching, serving as an assistant at Siena for two seasons from 2011–2013. Before his time at Siena, Anderson was a head coach at the Division III level at Hamilton College and Clarkson University in upstate New York. He worked as an assistant at Clarkson and Le Moyne College.

Anderson graduated from Wesleyan University in 1995.