NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. - The New Jersey All-Stars and the New York Gauchos came all the way to the muggy South to play each other and both teams gave a valiant effort. In the end though, it was the hustle and interior dominance of Lance Thomas that helped the All-Stars take home a huge victory. And he did it in front of a number of the top head coaches in attendance.
There have been few guys that have commanded a crowd here at the Peach Jam early on. Spencer Hawes was the must-see guy in the morning and it was Lance Thomas on Tuesday night. Both guys gave the crowd something to think about, especially Thomas.
Playing in front of Lute Olson (Arizona), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Roy Williams (UNC), Paul Hewitt (Georgia Tech), Jay Wright (Villanova), Bill Self (Kansas), Norm Roberts (St. John's), Jim Calhoun (Connecticut) and Skip Prosser (Wake Forest), Thomas went to work.
Thomas poured in 28 points and dominated the paint against any New York Gaucho that was thrown at him. Thomas did his best damage from the foul stripe, sinking 75 percent of his freebies. His fade away baseline jumper from 12 feet out is his money shot and he went to it often. We had him tallied for eight boards as well. No one works harder from start to finish than Thomas. He was a key reason for the 79-73 New Jersey All-Stars victory over the Gauchos.
Nation, meet Jeff Jones. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound combo guard got it done against the Gauchos. The class of 2007 prospect opened a lot of eyes, a lot of important eyes, with his 17 points on hot shooting at key moments in the game. He's got a great handle, a nose for the ball and confident leadership for an underclassmen.
Jones said he has offers from NC State, Virginia and Villanova while St. John's and Miami are heavily involved. Expect that list to double after the Peach Jam.
Pitt commit Gilbert Brown was outstanding in the big victory. The 6-foot-6 bouncy forward had 20 points and had a key block with less than 30 seconds to play, keeping the game in favor of the New Jersey All-Stars. Jamie Dixon was on hand to see his future wing in action. The most impressive thing about his game on Tuesday night? Try his mid-range game. It was on fire.
If you know anything about the Gauchos, you know the team will play hard. The team's two stars - Curtis Kelly and Edgar Sosa - did their thing. Kelly used his trademark herky-jerky motion to score at the bucket early and often en route to 18 points.
Sosa was a floor maestro, putting in 17 points and seven assists. His play on the first day of action has been great.
In other action
UCLA head coach Ben Howland stopped by to see Jamil Tucker in action for a half. Tucker did most of his damage on offensive put backs and scores around the bucket. His perimeter game was not working for him against the SC Ravens.
Speaking of the Ravens, Mike Holmes gave a great show against the Indiana-based SYF Players. The class of 2007 forward went to work inside the paint.
Who is No. 31? That was the question coaches were asking after watching Doneal Mack connected on three of four shooting from deep. Mack was on fire from the wing and seemed to always have the answer on the perimeter. At least a half dozen coaches were talking in the hallway after the game about him.
Coach K was watching his future guard Jon Scheyer closely against future ACC foe Anthony Gurley. Scheyer finished with 13 points to Gurley's 19 points.
Manual Cass is seeing his recruitment take on a high-major form. The 6-foot-7 combo forward is showing off a nice game inside the paint, using his long body and athleticism to score the easy buckets and clean the boards off the glass. After holding an offer from Southern Illinois for a long time, Cass said Purdue and Illinois have both offered and Arizona, Dayton, Marquette and Xavier are showing interest. The latter three were all watching him on Tuesday night.
Odds & Ends
Jeff Ryan, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Glenbrook (Ill.) South High School, is having a solid start to the Peach Jam. Ryan said Ivy Leagues, Loyola-Chicago, Northwestern and Colgate are showing interest and Saint Louis and Stony Brook have offered.
Mike Singletary said Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Kentucky are amongst his favorite schools right now.
Not being too shy to look at the best of the best in the class of 2006, Ohio State had an assistant to watch New Jersey's Thomas, the star of the night.
Orin Chin put together two big games on Tuesday. His 25 point, 11-rebound game against the DC Blue Devils should help push his name to the recruiting forefront in the class of 2007. The Florida schools are the hot programs on his trail right now, he said.
Donald Lawson is an intriguing prospect for the Illinois Warriors. The 6-foot-8 forward from Chicago's Leo High School is a muscular forward with good size and great grades. The 3.9 grade point average student has an offer from DePaul and a number of MAC schools.
Michael Washington, an Arkansas recruit, played very well in the evening session. The 6-foot-10 forward was strong on both ends of the floor. The future Razorback finished with 13 points and 11 boards.
Stat line of the night: Jimmy Oden of the Murfreesboro Stars 15 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and three steals against The Family.