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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- In the Riverview Park Activities Center, there's a banner that lists each champion of Nike's Peach Jam. Next year, Each 1 Teach 1 will be added to that exclusive list. After its 16U squad finished as the runner-up in its division, the Joel Berry-led 17s handled business in a high-scoring final against the CP3 All-Stars.
Each 1 teaches everyone
After the team went 13-5 during the regular season of Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League, most figured that the Amar'e Stoudemire-backed Each 1 Teach 1 group would be a factor at the Peach Jam. However, nobody could have expected it to roll like it did. Sunday afternoon, E1T1 finished a statement weekend as it outlasted another NBA player-backed team, beating Chris Paul's CP3 All-Stars 108-102 in a track meet to take home the title.
E1T1 features four players ranked among the top 110 of the 2014 Rivals150, and the highest-ranked one did his thing. Berry, a North Carolina-bound point guard, was fabulous. Early, he focused on handling the ball and letting his teammates make plays. Then, about halfway through the first half, he started to take over on offense. Ranked No. 26 nationally, Berry shared the team high of 22 points with D'Angelo Russell while dishing out a team-high eight assists.
Not surprisingly, the bulk of Berry's damage came over a decisive stretch of the game during the last 10 minutes of the first half and the first 10 minutes of the second half. Early, E1T1 kept threatening to blow the game open and CP3 kept coming back. Berry's finding of shooters and scoring with his own jumpers allowed his team to build a 17-point lead during that middle stretch of the ballgame before it fended off a furious late comeback. It was a productive championship Sunday for him as he rolled up a combined 35 points and 17 assists to just five turnovers while his team scored 210 points over the course of the semifinals and the finals.
Russell, ranked No. 35, also came up huge for the Florida kids. After an up-and-down spring, Russell was outstanding at the LeBron James Skills Academy and even better at the Peach Jam. Russell had a triple double of 16 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in the semifinal win over Memphis, Tenn.-based Team Penny before adding another four assists and four rebounds to go with his 22 points. There seems to be a lot less "cool" in his game and more consistent offensive aggression for the Ohio State commitment.
No. 110 Boubacar Moungoro is a hard-charging wing who always attacks in a straight line. He is very good from an athletic standpoint, and it's clear that he's worked hard to become a more well-rounded and versatile player. His shooting and ball handling are still works in progress, but they have improved considerably in the last year. His 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the finals were a lot of fun to watch because of how he played with so much energy after a grueling tournament.
Finally, E1T1 got major contributions from Duke-bound Grayson Allen, three-star SG Kobe Eubanks and class of 2015 four-star Alex Owens. Allen is a bit of a streak shooter from deep, but he's gotten stronger and was being aggressive off the dribble. In particular, the No. 34 player in 2014 is good going to his off (left) hand and he's also a good passer. Eubanks is wired to score. He comes in looking to shoot the rock and is an instant offense-type player. Ranked No. 67 in the class of 2015, Owens came off the bench to provide a high-level presence in the lane and especially on the glass, where his 16 rebounds led everybody and showed the type of rebounder he can be.
Wings take 16-and-under crown
Through most of the first half of the 16-and-under title game between Each 1 Teach 1 and the Arkansas Wings, both teams looked tired. Without the shot clock that keeps the pace going in the 17-and-under game, possessions dragged on and E1T1 held a 15-13 lead. Then, during the final two minutes of the half, the athletic and aggressive Wings squad got the pace turned up the way it likes it to finish on a 12-2 run and take a 25-17 lead into the half.
Athletic and aggressive across the board, the Wings like to employ an up-tempo style of ball based around one really talented big man -- 2015 top 10 prospect Skal Labissiere running from end to end and protecting the rim -- while an army of long and versatile 6-foot to 6-foot-5 guys swarms on the perimeter. After being effectively neutralized in the first half, Labissiere at least got to the free throw line in the second and the Wings were off and running to a 67-48 win.
Like he did on Saturday, 2015 four-star wing Melvin Frazier was outstanding on defense and played with a high energy level. Class of 2016 shooting guard Malik Monk is tracking toward five-star status, and he plays like a young Louis Williams. However, other than a few huge dunks late, Monk was quiet and did a good job of not forcing things when it was clear that his jumper wasn't falling and there were others to pick up the slack.
In particular, shooting guard Marlon Hunter was impressive. A sturdy 6-foot-2 shooter from Memphis (Tenn.) Melrose, Hunter is a tough offensive player who has a lot of confidence in his shot. His shot selection is good, and he was dependable on both ends of the floor during the semifinals and finals. The three-star prospect is one to watch more closely.
The CP3 All-Stars fell in the championship game, but they had a good run. On Saturday we noted the tough play of Gary ClarkClick A final few notes from Saturday Here to view this Link., and the 6-foot-7 combo forward left it all on the floor again on Sunday. During the finals, he battled hard on the interior and was again productive on the glass and as a scorer with a 20-point, 14-rebound performance.
Like Clark, combo guard Nate Mason is a bit of a tweener. The 6-foot combo guard from Shiloh (Ga.) High is probably more of a natural shooting guard than he is a point. Throw that out the window because, more than anything, Mason is a basketball player who will try to make plays.
Despite a slender frame, he plays with the heart of a lion and he is unafraid of competition. He is a streak shooter who when hot can pile up points quickly, and he's capable of creating off of the dribble. When he has it rolling, he makes coaches think about their evals. Upper-end mid-majors see him as the kind of kid who could help them beat a high major in a tournament game, while high majors try to figure out where/if they can plug him in out of fear of one day having him burn them.
Mason was more up than down during the final. He finished with 21 points and seven assists, and he was a huge reason that E1T1 never ran away with things.
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