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2011 NIKE EYBL PEACH JAM REPORT (PART V)
By Brian Bosworth
Thursday marked the end of pool play at the Peach Jam and the last opportunity for teams to fight their way into the playoffs. For some teams who know they are going to be on the outside looking in it is the last opportunity to perform in front of college colleges this week. With the stakes raised the play became even more intense and some players will able to stand above the rest…
Brandon Ashley (Oakland Soldiers/2012) – Ashley has been having a monster work and continued that trend this morning. After dominating from the low block when I watched him on Tuesday night, Ashley showed off his face up game in this contest. He hit multiple 18 foot jumpers from the baseline and once he established that shot used a shot fake and a couple of dribbles to get to the rim. He was in attack mode throughout the game earning himself 12 trips to the free throw line and converting 9 of them. Ashley’s handle, while adequate, will need to get better as his game progresses. He can use 1 or 2 dribbles effectively but in the open floor sometimes becomes a bit wild if he has to put it down more than that.
Langston Walker (Oakland Soldiers/2012) – Walker is one of the many high major guards that the Soldiers employ and brings a unique toughness to the wing position. Listed at 6’4” 200 pounds Walker has a very physical style and invites contact in the lane. He is effective on the offensive glass and can finish over and through bigger defenders inside. His outside shot is a little bit flat and needs more work so that defenders don’t start playing off him but there is no doubt Walker is a high major wing out on the West coast.
Jabari Bird (Oakland Soldiers/2013) – Another of the Soldiers’ plethora of wings, Bird has a long, lean body standing 6’6” 190 pounds. He gets excellent lift on his jump shot and has good form out to the college three. He made perimeter shots both off the catch and off the dribble showing consistent form on all of them. He also worked his way into the paint and finished from midrange with both floaters and a beautiful turnaround off a spin move in the lane. Bird needs to add strength as he can struggle on the boards against bigger players but he has major upside at the wing position because of his complete offensive package.
Ricardo Gathers (Louisiana Select/2012) – Gathers is one of the strongest players in this field. Listed at 6’8” 235 pounds, he could easily be 15 pounds heavier than that and you’d be hard pressed to find an ounce of fat on him. This superior strength advantage makes him quite a chore to deal with down low and to Gathers’ credit he doesn’t waste time floating on the perimeter. When he collects a defensive rebound (9 in this game) Gathers immediately takes off with the ball down the floor. He showed improved handle from when I last saw him in June leading the break and really pushing the pace of the game. As such a huge young man who is always attacking Gathers spends a lot of time at the free throw line. He needs significant work on his stroke going 2-9 in this game and missing badly on some of those attempts.
Billy Garrett Jr. (Mac Irvin Fire/2013) – committed to DePaul – With his future head coach Oliver Purnell sitting courtside Garrett showed why he can excel in the Big East. He has terrific size at the point standing at 6’4” and plays the game at a very controlled pace. Never in a hurry, Garrett takes what the defense gives him and sets up opportunities for himself and teammates. In this game his outside shot impressed the most as he connected on 6-10 from behind the arc including some huge shots down the stretch in the second half to protect the lead. He also got into the paint and used a soft floater to finish over big men or kicked to open teammates.
Jabari Parker (Mac Irvin Fire/2013) – The more I watch Parker, the more impressed I am. Some kids at these events are just playing on a different plane than the rest and Jabari clearly falls into that group. He makes at least 4 or 5 plays every time out that can be defined as “NBA plays.” In this game he caught the ball on the right wing in triple threat position, jab stepped his defender to create space, and then calmly knocked down a long three pointer. On another possession while operating out of the right block, Parker backed his defender down and then spun towards the middle burying 12 footer while fading away from the basket. 6’7” 220 pound 16 year olds are not supposed to make plays like this but Jabari Parker is not like the rest of us.
Andrew Wiggins (CIA Bounce/2014) – One of the youngest players at the Peach Jam this week Wiggins is also arguably the best long term prospect here. He tallied 19 points on 6-8 shooting in this game and most of that was done with Jabari Parker defending him. Trailing in the second half, CIA Bounce went to Wiggins almost every time down the floor and he delivered either a bucket or a trip to the free throw line where he went 5-5. Wiggins made threes, drove hard with both hands and finished, tipped in offensive rebounds and generally played like the best player on the court. Defensively he is also very advanced for his age and gave Parker fits once he switched onto him in the second half. Had Wiggins been defending him the entire game there may have been a different outcome.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes (CIA Bounce/2014) – Another youngster for CIA Bounce, Rathan-Mayes is a volume shooter. His shot selection is spotty at best but he can really fill it up when he gets on a roll. Rathan-Mayes made 5-9 from distance in this game and along with Wiggins kept his team in the game. Going forward he needs to learn to involve his teammates more and wait for a good shot instead of the first shot but he has very high upside as a scorer.
Stephen Clark (Athletes First/2013) – Clark is a diminutive 5’9” point guard but has a strong frame and doesn’t back down from opponents. He is lightning quick with the ball in his hands and fuels the up tempo style that his Athletes First club likes to play. Clark is a very confident outside shooter and well his percentage wasn’t great in this game his form is excellent and he clearly has the makings of a long range sniper. He also uses his quickness to get in the lane and set up teammates finishing this game with 17 points and 7 assists. Despite being undersized, there is no question that Clark is a high major player because of his combination of speed and shooting ability.
Shaquille Morris (Athletes First/2013) – Morris is a very strong young man standing at 6’8” 260 pounds. Most players his size are primarily below the rim players but Morris showed good lift finishing highlight reel plays on a tip in dunk and a big time alley-oop thrown by Clark. Never roaming far from the paint, Morris uses his big body to create space and has a nice touch inside of 6 feet. He needs to make conditioning a focus in his development as he could shed some weight and add more muscle to become a more consistent player.
College Coaches in Attendance:
Oakland Soldiers vs. Louisiana Select – The West coast was out in droves watching the Soldiers all week and today was no different. Lorenzo Romar (Washington), Sean Miller (Arizona), Steve Alford (New Mexico), Scott Drew (Baylor), Rick Barnes (Texas), Mike Montgomery (California), Dana Altman (Oregon), Trent Johnson (LSU), John Calipari (Kentucky), Steve Lavin (St. John’s), and Roy Williams (UNC) were all courtside joined by assistants from USC and San Diego State.
Mac Irvin Fire vs. CIA Bounce – Oliver Purnell (DePaul), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Lorenzo Romar (Washington), Steve Alford (New Mexico), Dana Altman (Oregon), John Calipari (Kentucky), Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), and Mike Anderson (Arkansas) were head coaches courtside for this game. They were accompanied by assistants from Connecticut, USC, Kansas, California, Missouri, and Illinois.
Athletes First vs. All Ohio Red – Bruce Weber (Illinois), Mick Cronin (Cincinnati), and Oliver Purnell (DePaul) were high major head coaches in attendance. Assistants from Connecticut, UNLV, and Xavier joined them.
Langston Walker – Walker told me it’s “his dream to play in the PAC-12.” He’s on his way to making that a reality with a school list of Colorado (offer), California, Stanford, West Virginia, Boston College (offer), UTEP, and Washington State (offer.)
Dominic Artis – Once thought to be a mid-major recruit because of his small stature, Artis’ options have expanded dramatically this spring. He rattled off a list of California, Washington State, Florida State, UCLA, Baylor, Oregon, Louisville, Texas, and UNLV with offers from all but Louisville and Texas.