MORE CAROLINAS: Players to Watch
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - For years, the Beach Ball Classic has stood tall as one of the premier post-Christmas high school basketball events. During Tuesday's opening rounds, there were some impressive performances but it was South Carolina product L.J. Peak taking the event by storm.
The word out of South Carolina on 2014 wing L.J. Peak had been that he was a tough athlete who could bully opponents with his strength and athleticism. That's an apt description of the 6-foot-4 sophmore, but he showed much more than that even though his Gaffney (S.C.) High squad took a loss at the hands of Lousville (Ky.) Ballard.
Peak was pretty much unstoppable on the offensive end. He drilled six three-pointers, was active off the dribble and showed high-end finishing ability at the rim during a 40-point outburst.
"I try to play like that all the time," Peak told Rivals.com. "I'm just trying to get to the basket and finish."
One of Peak's best attributes is that he plays with a high energy level and competes. He says it's not coaching or something he's worked on, it's just a byproduct of the game going on around him.
"It's just the intensity of the game," said Peak. "It makes you want to play hard."
According to Peak, he's heard from South Carolina, Clemson, Marquette, Georgetown, Texas, Virginia, Virginia Tech and others.
Because of his physicality and ability to finish at the rim, he's also an effective passer off the dribble and a good defender. The kid is hungry and lets his game speak for itself.
"My strength is my defense.," said Peak. "I'm trying to go hard all game and get opportunities for my teammates."
On the other side, Ballard had several impressive players of their own. A pressing, fast-breaking team with plenty of shooters that can spot up, Ballard doesn't have a ton of size but is fun to watch.
At the helm is 2014 point guard Quentin Snider and the Louisville commitment is a point guard's point guard. The 6-footer is in total control of the game, will defend and is a very capable jump shooter.
Junior off guard LaVonne Holland was impressive as well. He's at most 6-foot, but he can pull the trigger from deep and is an above-the-rim finisher.
Every now and then there is a big mismatch and everybody in the building figures it out quickly. Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman was dominant in every aspect of the game with Rye (N.Y.) High.
More specifically, the nation's top player in the class of 2012, Shabazz Muhammad, and his Rivals150 ranked 2012 teammates Rosco Allen and Demetris Morant put on a show during an 81-33 romp.
There aren't many wings who play with Muhammad's physicality and he was getting grown man buckets because he could. When the 6-foot-6 senior senses blood, he definitely goes in for the kill and he was quite comfortable putting up 24 and eight in just 16 minutes.
A pretty fluid athlete for a 6-foot-8 or 6-foot-9 four man, Rosco Allen is best catching a pass in the high post or wing through ball reversal and attacking the rim. He can shoot as well and is a very good pickup for Stanford.
Morant was a monster in the lane swatting shots like he was playing against the freshman team. The quick off the floor UNLV-bound power forward is a clean-up man on both ends of the floor. But as with Allen and Muhammad, Morant held a significant size and athleticism advantage over his opponents.
Finally, freshman Stephen Zimmerman got to play valuable game minutes and looked good. He's got good hands, moves pretty well and looks to be in at least the 6-foot-10 range. Too early to tell where he is years from now, but he sure has the look of a potential five-star prospect.
Using the Glass
Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton coach David Boyd figured that his team's game against Miami (Fla.) Sr. would be a grinder and it was.
According to Boyd, Milton hadn't played or practiced much together over the last 11 days but they made more than enough plays to handle business.
In our view, the difference was senior combo forward Tevin Glass and his ability to attack four-men off the dribble. The Milton offense wasn't getting much off the dribble so he flashed to the high post, caught and attacked the rim creating scores and tempo.
"He's real quick and he can kind of beat people off the dribble and make plays for us," said Boyd. "He's a very good post for us because of that."
Glass finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds but was easily the most active player on either end of the floor.
"They want me to step out and create more plays," Glass told Rivals.com. "I'm trying to transition to the three some."
According to Glass he's heard from Arkansas, Alabama, Texas, Georgia Southern, Murray State, Auburn and Georgia State.
Like any player, he wants to play at the highest level possible but he is also keeping his eye on programs from non-BCS conference schools that are getting it done. Especially programs where his father played.
"I'm looking at playing time and how the teams run their offense," said Glass. "I see a place like Murray State with how they play and my dad played their so that helps them be on my list."