KSR is going back to the Peach Jam to check out the finals of the Nike EYBL circuit. Matt, Tomlin and I will leave for North Augusta tomorrow after the radio show in Monticello, and if history repeats itself, we’ll get into something ridiculous before the week is over. This is Tomlin’s first trip to the Peach Jam — his first trip to any AAU tournament, for that matter — and I know you’re looking forward to his recruiting analysis and description of the scene. We’re hoping Gary Parrish yells at him, a KSR tradition in North Augusta.
Below you’ll find the guide we plan to keep in our backpockets for the week. It’ll give you a general idea of who will be competing at the event and what we plan to do in our downtime.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jahlil Okafor (Mac Irvin Fire) — The No. 1 player in the 2014 class headlines an intimidating frontcourt for the Mac Irvin Fire, alongside fellow five-star prospect Cliff Alexander. Okafor just won gold at the U19 World Championships and plans to stop by the LeBron James Skills Academy tomorrow, so he’ll be a little jet-lagged by the time he arrives at the Peach Jam. He still plans to attend college with Tyus Jones and he hopes to make a decision before his senior season of high school basketball gets underway.
Cliff Alexander (Mac Irvin Fire) — Lined up across the paint from Okafor will be Alexander, the No. 4 overall player in the Rivals.com rankings. The UK target, a 2012 Big Blue Madness visitor, is the second-leading rebounder through the four EYBL sessions this summer. He plays power forward for Mac Irvin, a spot once held by Antoine Walker.
Trey Lyles (Indy Spiece) — The one-time Indiana verbal commit is believed to be a Kentucky lean these days. His Spiece Indy Heat team enters the Peach Jam with a 15-3 record, good enough for a five-game lead in Division A.
Stanley Johnson (Oakland Soliders) — UK target Stanley Johnson will look to defend his EYBL title, this time without help from former Oakland Soliders teammate Aaron Gordon. Johnson and Gordon defeated Andrew Wiggins and CIA Bounce in last summer’s championship game. Johnson recently announced he’ll attend Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness in October.
Tyus Jones (Howard Pulley) — One of two stud point guards in the class, Tyus Jones is high on Calipari’s wish list but odds are he ends up elsewhere with Okafor. The second-ranked player in the class led the Nike EYBL regular season in points, assists, steals, free throws made, and field goals made. He has been the star thus far.
Malik Newman (Jackson Tigers) — Newman, a combo guard, leads the Nike EYBL circuit in scoring average at 24.7 points per game through 16 games. Ranked No. 1 in the 2015 class, he received an offer from John Calipari and Kentucky last month.
Karl Towns — UK’s lone commitment from the 2014 class did not participate in the Nike EYBL AAU circuit.
Emmanuel Mudiay — Mudiay’s Texas Pro squad failed to reach the EYBL finals.
Rashad Vaughn — Like Mudiay, Vaughn’s Wisconsin Playground Elite squad failed to reach the EYBL finals.
KENTUCKY IN THE HOUSE
The Kentucky Travelers — In its first season after leaving Tennessee for the bluegrass, the Travelers AAU team is going to the Peach Jam. The team features seven Kentuckians and qualified for the event after missing out last summer with a 2-18 overall record. Knott County’s Camron Justice and Cincinnati product Zach McCormick led the team in scoring during the regular season, each with 11.5 points per game.
Hooters — The Hooters in Augusta is a scene unlike any other in college basketball. Juvenile bloggers like ourselves must keep our heads on a swivel at all times in the restaurant in order to take in all the randomness from the biggest names in coaching and media. “Hey, look over there, Jeff Goodman and Bill Self are splitting fried pickles and a pitcher of Summer Shandy. Did you see Tom Izzo earlier? He was three sheets to the wind and talking trash to Tom Crean.”
Avoid boredom — North Augusta is a struggle when the basketball isn’t going on. A struggle.
The Country Club Dance Hall & Saloon — When in Rome, I guess.
This should be fun.