N. AUGUSTA, S.C. -- A memorable game between two of the best grassroots teams in the country and one of the most memorable individual performances highlighted the first day of the Nike Peach Jam.
The New York Gauchos-Georgia Stars game was evidence of why the Peach Jam is one of the premiere events of the year. The game provided the packed gym with two different styles of play, two different strengths and two different levels of intensity and athleticism. Mix that with wall-to-wall coverage of college coaches and a game that went back and forth and you have one outstanding game.
Using their speed and depth in the backcourt, the Gauchos picked apart the man-to-man defense of the Stars and held on to an earned 82-71 victory.
The pedigree of New York Gaucho guards has traditionally shined at the Peach Jam and this year's group from the Big Apple is certainly capable of bringing home the trophy. The quartet of Kemba Walker, Jordan Theodore, Darryl Bryant and Durand Scott combined for 67 points. All four looked like track champions with a ball attached to their hands.
Walker, a Connecticut commitment, was outstanding in every regard of being a point guard. The 6-footer scored 21 points and distributed eight assists. He scored at will at the rim off of dribble penetration and once the defenders respected his speed and backed off, Walker torched the defense with knock down three-pointers. Walker also did a fine job of distributing the basketball with drive and kick outs to the perimeter for buckets.
Much like Walker, Theodore proved that speed does kill against the Stars' slow backcourt. The Seton Hall bound guard scored 18 points and dished out nine assists. His ball-handling skills and quick stop-start ability had some Stars defenders dropping on the floor.
Continuing his strong play this summer, Bryant did a fine job of filling a role as a defender, tough guy inside as a rebounder and scored 14 points in the victory. Scott, the lone class of 2009 guard in the backcourt, scored 14 points as well. He was an assassin in the corner for three.
The Stars wouldn't go down easy. In fact, the team cut a double digit lead to six points under a minute and a half to play. Coming off a late night verbal commitment to Wake Forest, Al-Farouq Aminu was outstanding to the tune of 25 points.
Showing off great ball-handling skills for a big man, Aminu attacked from the wing and did a great job on the offensive glass for second chance scores. The 6-foot-8 five-star prospect looked every bit the elite level player that he is. Despite his efforts, Aminu and his teammates just couldn't catch up with the quickness of the guards.
Teammate Wesley Witherspoon had a strong second half and converted on a couple of and one plays late in the game. The 6-foot-8 wing scored 15 points by slashing to the basket time and time again. He was fearless around the cup and showed some toughness and competitiveness late in the game.
If there was any question about the scoring abilities of Willie Warren, the questions are probably out the door after the big time effort from the Texan against the Mean Streets.
Warren torched the Chicago club for 45 points and scored any which way he wanted. The 6-foot-3 guard challenged one of the roughest and toughest guys in the field in center Michael Dunigan around the basket. Warren tried to put himself back into YouTube lore with a couple of nasty dunks over the giants. Warren was deadly as a pull-up three-pointer shooter. He scored in the midrange. Free throws were a constant.
The Mean Streets, a team that shines on the defensive end of the floor more times than not, just didn't have an answer for Warren.
Warren told Rivals.com's Jerry Meyer that he and his mother will unveil a school list when the tournaments tip off in Las Vegas later in the month.
Balanced effort from Boo
With a roster deep with Division I prospects, Boo Williams used its depth and strength in the backcourt to pick up a 20-point win over Athlete's First.
Guards Kendall Marshall and Kendall Durant both put in roughly a dozen points each. Marshall, a good-looking 2010 prospect, ran the point with proficiency and poise as he always does. Durant, a reclassified guard bound for New Hampton (N.H.) Prep, is a strong-bodied combo guard. He's one to watch this summer and into the school year. Durant said he's heard from Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth and Akron.
Things remain about the same for five-star forward Ed Davis on the recruiting front. It is Virginia, North Carolina and Connecticut. Expect movement around the end of August and beginning of September. Dave Leitao, Roy Williams and Jim Calhoun all pulled up a seat for his game.
On the court, he struggled against Athlete's First's size and strength. Davis finished with a ho-hum 11 points.
Despite the roster being one of the youngest in the 17 and under division, Athlete's First's lineup of Xavier Henry, Daniel Orton, Kyle Hardrick and Terrence Boyd looks like a bunch of college upperclassmen. As big and strong as the team is, the Oklahoma kids struggled against the always-powerful Boo Williams squad.
Henry lived up to his billing as one of the truly elite scorers in the nation, as he put in 29 points in the victory. He scores every which way possible.
Boyd had a big first half, scoring with power on drives to the hole. He also out-manned the big frontline for Boo Williams as a rebounder. The second half tailed off and Boyd, as well as everyone not named Henry, struggled to find consistency.
16 and under action
The Georgia Stars and SYF Players decided that the 40 minutes of regulation was not enough. The two went at it in a back-and-forth overtime battle where the Stars ended up with a one point victory.
Holsey, a 6-foot-7 forward from Hancock Central (Ga.) High School is finding his identity as a forward. In the spring, he showed flashes on the wing but his future is inside. The long-armed youngster did a fine job on the glass in large part because he has bulked up his upper body.
Hall, a 6-foot-8 athletic post, was knocking down baseline jumpers to start the game and showed flashes of good things to come. He's coming on at a strong clip and closing out the summer with a bang.
Holsey said he is hearing from Clemson, Florida State, Tennessee, Georgia, Miami, South Florida and Tennessee Tech. Hall, who grew up in Southern California, recently visited UCLA and Kentucky. He said Kansas and Virginia Tech have also recently jumped into the mix, joining Georgia, LSU, Alabama and others.
But the real reason why the Stars won was the hot hand of Adrian Coleman. The 6-foot-3 guard from Stephenson (Ga.) shot the ball well, attacked the basket with power and made some big plays on the defensive end of the floor. Coleman said he is hearing from Clemson, Virginia Tech and Kansas State.
SYF, like all SYF clubs, is a balanced team that knows how to play. It seems like that is written about them every year on the circuit. Scott Wood, a 6-foot-5 guard from Marion (Ind.) fits the mold of former SYF star Robbie Hummel. Wood is good with the ball in his hands and has a good handle. He's great in the half court and finds the right moments to do the right things.
The full staffs of Michigan and Michigan State lined the sidelines for The Family and Team Melo 16 and under team. Big man Donovan Kirk, a 6-foot-7 post from Notre Dame Prep in Pontiac, was the likely target of the attention. The big man finished everything around the rim and cleaned up all of the loose balls off the glass. It was a great first half impression from the class of 2009 youngster.
All eyes on you
The head coaching crowd for the Team Texas-Mean Streets battle was deep. Bruce Weber, Frank Martin, Matt Painter, Mike Anderson, Jeff Capel, Jim Calhoun, Lorenzo Romar, Tubby Smith, Mark Turgeon, John Brady, Bruce Pearl, Bill Self, Billy Gillispie, Mike Brey, John Thompson, John Pelphrey, Stan Heath, Kelvin Sampson and Al Skinner all watched Warren go for 45. That's 19 coaches if you are counting.
Other prospects of note in the game: Rotnei Clarke (who struggled in the first half and was solid in the second), Michael Dunigan (who played well in the paint) and Matthew Humphrey (who had his moments).
The crowd to see five-star 2009 guard Dexter Strickland was strong. Roy Williams, Tom Izzo, a pair of Duke assistants, a pair of Rutgers assistants, and Seton Hall.
Lance Goulbourne, a bouncy 6-foot-7 forward with great grades at The Hun School (N.J.), had a strong crowd. Vandy, Rutgers, Marquette and others watched him.
Martin, Kansas State's head man, shadowed Witherspoon. So did George Washington. The chances are strong that Michigan head man John Beilein was on hand to see Georgia guard Tanner Smith.
Boo Williams center Reginald Johnson had Frank Haith, Anthony Grant, Leitao and Skip Prosser all watching the Winston-Salem, N.C. native.
Odds & Ends
One hardcore Wake Forest fan toted around a "Go Deacs" sign and held it above the rims of the games where the ACC school's top prospects played. Unfortunately for her, Ty Walker was a no show for Boo Williams. The fan was steadfast though and held the sign all game for all to see.