The college basketball world will be concentrated in North Augusta, South Carolina. this weekend for Peach Jam, the premier event on the grassroots basketball calendar.
Peach Jam is the end-of-year tournament for Nike’s EYBL circuit. Many of the top recruits in the country will be playing, and just about every big-time coach in college hoops will be in the gym making evaluations.
Teams on the EYBL play all year to qualify for Peach Jam. The top five teams from the league’s four divisions get automatic berths, and four wild card teams are selected, as well. Play starts on Wednesday night and concludes on Sunday when a champion is crowned.
A good performance at Peach Jam can change a high school basketball player’s life forever. This is everything you need to know about the event.
Who are the biggest stars?
The top five players in ESPN’s class of 2019 recruiting rankings will all be playing at Peach Jam.
Cole Anthony leads the way. The 6’3 point guard is the son of former NBA veteran Greg Anthony and has established himself as the most productive player on the circuit this year. He was named league MVP after averaging 26.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. Anthony, who remains uncommitted, plays for the New York-based PSA Cardinals, and has a marquee matchup against another top-10 recruit on opening night: Kentucky-bound guard Tyrese Maxey, who happens to be the EYBL’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Think of Anthony as a more explosive Jalen Brunson. Duke and Oregon are thought to be the early leaders for his commitment.
James Wiseman and Vernon Carey Jr. are ranked as the top two players in the class by ESPN. Both are natural centers, with Wiseman boasting superior length and athleticism and Carey offering more offensive polish at his stage. Wiseman’s talented Memphis-based Bluff City Legends team will go against Carey’s Nike Team Florida on Peach Jam’s opening night.
Wiseman is an upside play at this point. His numbers weren’t overwhelming (15 points per game on 48.7 percent shooting), but his combination of length (7’5 wingspan), quickness and agility could make him a Clint Capela-type of rim runner in the NBA. His offensive skill level is unrefined right now (2-of-20 on threes, 58 percent from the foul line), but he has the body control and athletic fluidity to continue to improve at a rapid rate as gets older. His recruitment is coming down to Memphis vs. Kentucky. Can his former high school coach Penny Hardaway pull him away from John Calipari?
Carey, the son of former Miami Dolphins left tackle Vernon Carey, is more primed to make an immediate impact at the college level, though he has less NBA potential than Wiseman. He’s a 275-pound big man who score inside and has a developing face-up game with three-point range (14-of-42 on the season). He’s not an above the rim athlete, but he’s the most skilled big in this class. Duke, Miami and Michigan State are after him.
Jaden McDaniels might have more NBA potential than any player in high school basketball. McDaniels is a late blooming 6’10 combo forward in the vein of Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic. Playing for Seattle Rotary, McDaniels is developing at a rapid rate, hypothetically turning into a floor stretcher in the front court who can also be a versatile defender. He averaged 19.2 points per game this season, shot 19-of-65 (29 percent) from three-point range and hit 70 percent of his free throws. He’s the younger brother of San Diego State star Jalen McDaniels.
Isaiah Stewart of New York-based City Rocks already looks like a grown man. A strong 6’9, 240-pound big man with a 7’4 wingspan, Stewart has soft touch around the rim and attacks the glass at both ends of the floor. Michigan State, Duke, Notre Dame, Georgetown and Villanova are among the finalists in his recruitment.
Give me a few more names to watch
- Scottie Barnes is my favorite player in the 2020 class. An athletic 6’8 wing who can pass, rebound and defend anyone, he’s one of the most intriguing long-term prospects in high school basketball today. He’ll team with Carey Jr. on Nike Team Florida.
- Jalen Lecque has skyrocketed up the rankings over the last year. A year ago, he wasn’t even considered a high-major recruit. Now he might be the best point guard in the class as an athletic 6’4 ball handler who thrives attacking the point, and has shown traces of a pull-up game.
- Tyrese Maxey is the highest rated recruit in the 2019 class to already announce his college intentions. He fits the mold of a John Calipari point guard: big, athletic, capable of locking down on defense and known for scoring the ball.
- Keion Brooks is a 6’7 wing for Indy Heat who put up big numbers on the circuit this year, averaging 21.7 points, seven rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Indiana, Michigan State and Kentucky are all in on him.
The field is loaded the sons of former athletes
Seriously: high school basketball is loaded right now with the children of former athletes. The Oakland Soliders’ leading scorer this year was Scotty Pippen Jr. They also have K.J. Martin, the son of former No. 1 overall draft pick Kenyon Martin.
Zaire Wade plays for Each1Teach1. Indy Heat’s Trayce Jackson-Davis is the son of Dale Davis. Jeron Artest (son of Ron) plays for the Las Vegas Prospects, but they didn’t make Peach Jam.
As previously mentioned, Cole Anthony and Vernon Carey Jr. both have fathers who were professional athletes, too.
Who are the favorites?
DC’s Team Takeover is the first team to ever enter Peach Jam undefeated. They’re led by slashing wing Justin Moore (a Villanova commit), shooter Casey Morsell (a Virginia commit) and big man Armando Bacot, who just won a gold medal with USA Basketball’s U18 team.
The Bluff City legends will also be tough. In addition to having the No. 1 player in the class in Wiseman, the Memphis-based team also has Kentucky-bound wing DJ Jeffries, Memphis commit Malcolm Dandridge, and Chandler Lawson, the younger brother of Kansas forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson.
Team CP3 (led by wing Wendell Moore) and Georgia-based AOT Running Rebels (led by 20-point-per-game scorer Sharife Cooper and two-way wing Isaac Okoro) each finished 13-3 this season and have a chance to win it all.
Peach Jam has a long history of turning high school players into stars. Tune in this weekend to see who’s next.