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The Cassidy Awards: Peach Jam

Cooper Flagg
Cooper Flagg (

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – The 2023 installment of Nike’s Peach Jam wrapped up on Sunday but not before a long list of future high-major prospects left their respective marks on the famed event.'s Rob Cassidy watched dozens of games during his week at the event and discusses some of the notable performances he witnessed in the form of his own awards.

PEACH JAM: Kentucky, Indiana join Michigan schools in race to land Acuff | Cooper Flagg backs up ranking | Cassidy's thoughts


2024 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2025 Rankings: Top 130

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BEST IN SHOW: Cooper Flagg

What he did: The No. 1 prospect in the Rivals150 for 2025 and one of the most promising NBA prospects regardless of class in the country, Flagg backed up his top billing all week. There isn’t much the junior can’t do, and he showcased his full bag during a 38-point, six-rebounds, 11-block, six-assists performance on Thursday. When Flagg is on there’s no more complete prospect in high school basketball, and he proved it in Augusta, leading his Maine United team to the 16U championship game.

Recruitment: Most see Flagg as a Duke lean and a candidate to reclassify to 2024, but programs such as Kansas, Kentucky, UConn and Michigan were well represented at the five-star wing’s game in Augusta. The Blue Devils should be seen as the leader, but nothing is ever set in stone until pen meets paper.


NEXT UP: AJ Dybantsa

A.J. Dybantsa
A.J. Dybantsa (

What he did: Rivals hasn’t ranked 2026 prospects just yet, but there’s little doubt that Dybantsa will top the list when that tackles place. The 6-foot-7 Dybantsa spent the spring playing up with Expressions Elite 17U squad and showed himself to be effective and versatile well beyond his years. He handles the ball incredibly well for his size and gets to the rim on command. He also contributes on the glass and brings some serious switchability on the defensive end.

Recruitment: A Massachusetts product, Dybantsa could take a shine to relatively close-to-home UConn, which has already offered. That said, it seems like a lock that every major program in the country will take a run at the five-star forward before all is said and done.


MVP: Darren Harris

Darren Harris
Darren Harris (

What he did: The Peach Jam MVP as determined by the event, Johnson led his Team Takeover squad to a championship win and averaged 14.3 points while doing so. Harris shot 46 percent from the floor in the tournament and rattled off 28 points, four rebounds and four assists in the title game. He was a bit up-and-down from a long-range shooting perspective all week, but the larger sample size on his three-point shooting prowess suggests that’s nothing to worry too much about. The 6-foot-6 wing brings some impressive versatility to the table and can defend almost every position.

Recruitment: Harris is committed to Duke.




Keiner Asprilla
Keiner Asprilla (

What he did: The NY Rens big man isn't a national name, but the class-of-2026 prospect has the tools to become one down the road. We observed him in a 15U game against MoKan Elite and came away thinking the 7-footer has long-term professional potential following his 14-point, 14-rebound, five-block effort. The sophomore runs the floor well and showcases incredibly reliable hands for a young post prospect. His motor is also there in spades. He projects as a high-major prospect as is, but if he expands his face-up game and refines his jumper, look out.

Recruitment: Kansas State is the latest program to make things official with Asprilla, who also holds an offer from Northern Illinois. His recruitment is almost guaranteed to pick up steam in the coming year, however, as there aren’t many more promising big men in the class. He has high-major player written all over him.


REMEMBER THE NAME: Jaylan Mitchell

Jaylan Mitchell
Jaylan Mitchell (

What he did: One of the youngest players at Peach Jam, Mitchell is a class-of-2027 prospect that is yet to play his first high school game. Looking at his frame, however, you'd never take him for an incoming freshman. It should be noted that the 6-foot-6, 190-pound forward is more than just a broad-shouldered bully beating up on smaller prospects at the 15U level. Mitchell has a decent looking jumper from range and isn’t afraid to let it fly. He knocked down 12 3-pointers in five games for Brad Beal Elite at Peach Jam and showed himself to be a willing defender. He averaged 15.4 PPG, 2.4 APG average and grabbed four rebounds per contest at Peach jam.

Recruitment: Mitchell has been offered by hometown Evansville, but the high-major interest hasn’t started to pour in just yet due to his young age. Because of that, there’s not much to say about his recruitment at this point. Remember the name, though, because he’ll likely be sorting through high-major opportunities a couple years from now.


THE BULLY: Morez Johnson 

Morez Johnson
Morez Johnson (

What he did: Johnson is an animal when it comes to imposing his will on opponents in the paint. He is one of the most gifted rebounders regardless of class and finishes everything around the basket regardless of if he’s aggressively hacked while doing so. Johnson spent the week at Peach jam imposing his will on defenders and racking up five double-doubles in six games. We watched him rattle off a 26-point, 29-rebound effort for his Meanstreets squad in an overtime win over UPlay Canada. Johnson is an efficient power forward that knows exactly how to leverage his greatest strengths. He never tries to be something he isn’t. It’s difficult to imagine him not having an instant impact at the college level. He’s likely to see a rankings bump in the next update.

Recruitment: Johnson is committed to Illinois.



VOLUME SCORER: Darius Acuff 

Darius Acuff, Jr.
Darius Acuff, Jr. (

What he did: Acuff is a score-first guard that will need to refine his shot selection a bit, but the class-of-2025 guard can fill it up like almost nobody else in the class when he’s at his best. Acuff was top-five scorer in the entire EYBL this year and is a serious threat from all three levels as well as a gifted ball-handler. The 6-foot-2 point guard is always in attack mode, plays with solid pace and brings some serious energy to the floor with him. There’s some development to do on the defensive end and from a facilitation standpoint, but that will likely come in time.

Recruitment: Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky are among the teams most involved with Acuff at this early juncture. All four feel like programs to watch down the road.


MUST GET: Jalen Montonati

Jalen Montonati
Jalen Montonati (

What he did: Montonati projects as one of the top prospects in the class of 2026 and also feels like an important recruit for Oklahoma State’s Mike Boynton, who spent time watching the legacy prospect in North Augusta. Montonati, whose father played for Eddie Sutton, is a long, sharp-shooting wing that also boasts a tight handle and fantastic court vision. The rising sophomore averaged 22 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.6 rebounds per game at Peach Jam while shooting 40 percent from three-point range at the 15U level.

Recruitment: Montonati obviously has strong ties to Stillwater and grew up a Cowboys fan. His talent dictates that Boyton will have to work to land his commitment, however, as the Pokes will need to beat out some heavy hitters. The class-of-2026 wing already holds offers from schools such as Kansas State, Kansas, Michigan, Arkansas and Iowa.



What he did: Nowell’s thick build, tight handle and hard-nosed mentality allows him to do a little bit of everything, and he did just that on grassroots’ basketball’s biggest stage last week. The six assists per contest Nowell averaged at Peach Jam were second among all players. And while his shot selection sometimes leaves something to be desired, he managed to average 12 points per contest while impacting games on the boards as well. Nowell is a solid ball handler that uses his strong upper body to get to his spots while possessing the ability to knock down open 3s when given a look

Recruitment: Kentucky, Tennessee, UConn and Georgia Tech are Nowell’s finalists. He will announce his commitment on July 23.