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2012 PEACH JAM REPORT – DAY II (PART A)
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By Brian Bosworth, National Recruiting Analyst
After a fun sample of 16U action on Wednesday night, the 2012 Peach Jam kicked into full gear with 17U action taking center stage on Thursday morning. While plenty of players had standout performances, a trio of wings from the Oakland Soldiers squad separated themselves from the pack.
Top Performers of the Morning:
Aaron Gordon (Oakland Soldiers 2013) – After missing a large time of time this AAU season with a foot injury, Gordon seemed determined to erase any question marks about his health moving forward. He was better than ever before making plays from the wing that weren’t in his arsenal 12 months ago. Gordon flashed off the dribble skills that firmly project him as a SF going forward and make him an even more devastating player than I previously thought. In addition to his improved handle, Gordon remains the most electric finisher in high school basketball around the rim. He drew more than a few Blake Griffin comparisons after a series of ridiculous dunks in transition.
Jabari Bird (Oakland Soldiers 2013) – Bird has elite size for the wing standing 6’6” with unusual length. He showed a complete scoring package in a morning victory making 3-pointers, midrange pull-ups, and smooth dunks at the rim. These skills have always been there for Bird but he was far more demanding in calling for the ball and forcing his teammates to run offense through him. For some players this could be viewed as a negative but for a young player of Bird’s talent wanting and demanding the ball is exactly what he should be doing. As long he continues being confident and aggressive, there is seemingly nothing Bird can’t do offensively.
Stanley Johnson (Oakland Soldiers 2014) – The most physically imposing of the Soldiers’ wings, Johnson is like a bowling ball rolling downhill in the open floor. His pure strength combined with elite athleticism make him a near impossible cover for any one defender at the high school level. Johnson can take smaller defenders and punish them on the block or draw bigs away from the basket and blow by them off the dribble. The same physical advantages that allow Johnson to excel offensively also make him an elite lock down defender. His main weakness has been the perimeter jump shot but Johnson knocked that down with regularity today. If he can continue to be a consistent shooter, Johnson has a chance to be a pro.
Sleeper Performance of the Morning:
Darren Williams (Team United 2013) – The forgotten man on Team United, Williams was the spark that made everything go for his squad. He showed deep range on his jump shot but was best using his speed to push the tempo and create easy transition looks. I’d like to see him more in a half court setting where he has to make decisions and run his team but Williams’ ability to play calm despite very fast up and down speeds really impressed me.
Other Morning Standouts:
Trey Lyles (Indy Spiece 2014) – verbal to Indiana – Lyles is probably the most skilled big man in the 2014 class. His handle, lateral movement, and shooting ability are very unique for a player standing 6’10” at his age. His offensive package reminds me a bit of a young Tim Duncan as Lyles loves the bank shot from the wing and has an array of moves on the post. The Hoosiers are going to absolutely love him.
Troy Williams (Boo Williams 2013) – It was a story of two halves for Williams on Wednesday morning. In the first half he settled too much for the jump shot and struggled as a result. After intermission he was much more aggressive attacking the basket and was rewarded with 11 free throw attempts. Williams made explosive drives from the 3-point line to the rim using one dribble and rose over defenders at the rim to finish the plays. Finding a balance between the perimeter and the paint will be crucial for Williams to reach his ceiling.
Rondae Jefferson (Team Final 2013) – The 6’6” lefty is listed as a SF and probably will end up there down the road but plays primarily on the ball for Team Final. His ability to create for others is his strongest trait as Jefferson routinely blew past defenders and used outstanding vision to pick out teammates. His stat line of 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists could have been far more impressive if other members of Team Final were able to finish the easy looks that Jefferson found for them. Jefferson’s major weakness is his shot which needs considerable work. He finished 0-7 from the free throw line and looks very uncomfortable shooting the ball.
Isaiah Briscoe (NJ Playaz 2015) – The Playaz were run off the floor by the Oakland Soldiers but Briscoe was a lone bright spot. He was the only member of the team who was able to consistently get his own shot repeatedly using 1-2 dribbles and then burying midrange jumpers. I’d like to see more creation for others going forward as Briscoe’s highest upside is at the point guard spot but that’s honestly nit picking quite a bit.
Jaquan Lyle (Indy Spiece 2014) – Lyle has elite size for the point guard position at 6’5” and has really progressed since I last saw him in April. At that time I viewed him as a great prospect but he has turned the corner and really become a great player. Lyle’s passing skills standout above all else showing best in screen and roll sets when he constantly found the screener for layups. He needs to become a better shooter so that defenders don’t go under the screen and also needs to develop better consistency.
Kennedy Meeks (Team United 2013) – Meeks will fool you if you let his body type determine what you think his game will be. A huge young man who you would think is a power player; Meeks has one of the best finesse low post games in the country. He has outstanding footwork, a soft touch around the basket, and the vision to be a facilitator from the block. Meeks is also one of the best outlet passers to come through the high school ranks in a long time.
Sindarius Thornwell (Team United 2013) – Meeks’ running mate on the perimeter, Thornwell is best slashing to the basket where his athleticism and body control make him an elite finisher. Often the recipient of one of Meeks’ outlet passes, Thornwell is a straight line to the rim once he catches and didn’t find a defender who could stop him. He acknowledged after the game that he needs to tighten up his jump shot to keep defenders honest in the half court and is actively working to improve in that area.
Anthony Barber (Boo Williams 2013) – Barber has the best handle of any point guard I’ve viewed in the 2013 class. The quickness with which he changes directions through traffic while taking care of the ball is breathtaking and makes him a terror in transition. Barber’s jump shot needs to become a better weapon because if defenders have to play him tight they’ll never be able to stay in front of him off the bounce.
Stanley Johnson (Oakland Soldiers 2014) – Johnson has his choice of almost all the elite programs in America stating that the majority of the SEC, ACC, and PAC-12 have been involved in his recruitment. He specifically mentioned offers from Arizona, UCLA, USC, Missouri, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Washington, and UNLV but acknowledged that he has a bunch more and is still wide open. Johnson plans to make a decision in the fall of his senior season and is looking for two things in a college program, academics and winning.
Aaron Gordon (Oakland Soldiers 2013) – Nothing has really changed for Gordon over the last year as he has the same list of five schools he’s had for some time. Washington, Arizona, Oregon, Kentucky, and Kansas are the schools on his short list but he acknowledged that Washington and Arizona are a step ahead of the other 3 programs. It feels like a battle between the Huskies and the Wildcats but if John Calipari and Kentucky turn up the heat that could change in the future.
Troy Williams (Boo Williams 2013) – Earlier in the AAU season Williams had narrowed his choices to Kentucky and North Carolina and was set to make a decision. Then he took a step back and re-opened things a bit and according to Williams that has relived a lot of stress and allowed him to just focus on basketball. He is now considering Louisville, Kentucky, UNC, Alabama, Indiana, Arkansas, Georgetown, and South Carolina. A personal relationship with the head coach is the most important factor in Williams’ decision but it’s not something that he’s really thinking about until after Peach Jam. At that time he plans to sit down with his uncle (program director Boo Williams) and discuss all his options before narrowing things down.
Sindarius Thornwell (Team United 2013) – Thornwell, who will be teaming up with Williams at Oak Hill academy next year, cited an improved level of competition as his reasoning. He acknowledged that South Carolina high school basketball doesn’t have a very good reputation and wants a chance to prove himself against the best. Plenty of the best are recruiting him to play at the next level as South Carolina, Tennessee, Connecticut, Syracuse, Florida, Memphis, Providence, Villanova, and “the entire ACC except Duke, UNC, and Maryland” are all involved.