Commentary

Big names and a deep talent pool on display at the Peach Jam

Originally Published: July 16, 2008
By Reggie Rankin | Scouts Inc.

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- The Peach Jam is one of the highlights of the July evaluation period. There were 24 elite teams in the U-17 event and 16 teams in the U-16 tournament. Basketball coaches from every level, prep schools to every major conference in the country, were also there. Nike made this tournament convenient, with four gyms all under one roof at the Riverview Park and Activities Center. Stats were provided at the conclusion of each game, allowing coaches to immediately add a statistical evaluation to their visual one.

The games are well coached and the talent is plentiful, with some of the best high school players in the country competing for four straight days. They played with passion and intensity, and to keep the players rested and energized, the players are given a five-hour break. At the end of the tournament, the winner becomes one of the most respected and feared teams on the summer circuit.

The big names who are representing the 2009 class are 6-6 wing Xavier Henry, 6-3 point guard John Wall and 6-10 forward/center DeMarcus Cousins.

A couple of the headliners from the 2010 class are 6-3 point guard Kendall Marshall and 6-5 scoring guard Andre Dawkins.

In the U-17 championship game, Boo Williams got off to a fast start and held off a late second half run by BABC to win 62-55. This game featured two talented and well coached teams that AAU had to offer. UConn commits Jamal Coombs-McDaniel and Alex Oriakhi combined for 30 points and 15 rebounds, and 2009 prospect Daryl Cato-Bishop contributed 12 rebounds for the athletic, physical front line of BABC. Boo Williams had a balanced scoring attack that was too tough to handle, led by 2009 Florida commit Deshawn Painter's double-double. Marshawn Powell added 13 points and nine rebounds. Kendall Marshall, 2010 North Carolina commit, added 12 points, 4 assists and 2 steals, controlled the game from the point and made big free throws to end the run by BABC.

In the U-16 championship, forward Mike Gilchrist (Somerdale, N.J. / St. Patrick's) scored 18 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, 4 assist and 2 steals to lead Team Final over Albany City Rocks 71-58. Albany City was led by 2010 standout Tobias Harris (Dix Hills, N.Y./ Half Hollow Hills), who recorded a double-double scoring 20 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Sharp-shooter Trevor Cooney (Wilmington, Del. / Sanford), went 4-for-6 from the 3 to support Team Final.

Standout Players

DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C (6-11, 265)
Class of 2009, Mobile, Ala./ LeFlore, Committed to UAB

Cousins is a skilled power forward in a center's body. He is every bit of the 265 pounds at which he is listed with extra long arms. He has two qualities that all good post players must have: soft hands and good footwork. He competes hard and, at times, seems to display a bit of a mean streak. Has the total package on the offensive end of the floor -- starting in the low post. On the left low box, he likes the right-handed jump hook over his left shoulder from the middle of the lane after one or two power dribbles, especially if he has a smaller post defender. On the right low box, he likes to fake middle and spin toward the baseline for a right-handed power move. One of Cousins' favorite things to do when he posts up away from the lane is to turn and face the basket. At times he settles on posting outside the lane because he likes to show his skills on the wing. Once he faces up, Cousins is a threat for the midrange jumper or to score off the dribble. He is a good passer out of the post both with his back to the basket and facing it. He trails the play or leave the post area to set ball-screens on which he has the ability to pick-and-pop for a 3-pointer or roll to the rim. He shoots the 3 without hesitation and has a nice touch at the free-throw line. Cousins is a good rebounder, especially on the defensive end, and he can use a bust-out dribble to start a fast break. At times, he turns it over trying to make a tough play, but his ballhandling is good enough. He could improve his offensive rebounding simply by going to the glass more consistently. Cousins needs to play lower or get into a stance or to be a better post defender, and he should not depend so much on his size. Finally, he must improve conditioning -- he looked winded rather quickly. Overall, he's a high-major post player and a program-changing recruit for UAB.

[+] EnlargeXavier Henry
Jason WatsonXavier Henry was among the top players at the South Carolina event.
Xavier Henry, SG/SF (6-6, 230, Left Handed)
2009, Oklahoma City, Okla. / Putnam City

Henry has the body of an NFL tight end -- with a combination of power and skill. He shows great court presence, when you walk into the gym to evaluate him it's easy to pick him out in the warm-up line. This physical and aggressive scorer is very athletic, and he can play several positions -- he could probably post up an undersized center and score over him. In transition, he sprints the lane looking to get all the way to the rim. If the defense is set, he can stop-and-pop from 3 or penetrate to draw the defense and kick out. In the half court, Henry can shoot the deep 3 off the catch with ease. He has great looking shooting form, a high release and a good follow through with great elevation. He uses the shot fake and the foot fake to get the defense out of position in order to start his attack off the dribble. He has a strong, low handle and uses his big body to protect the ball. He likes to go between the legs into a right to left crossover, as well. We did not see much of a midrange game, he either knocked down a 3, drew the defense and kicked or got all the way to the rim where he does a great job of scoring through contact and getting to the free-throw line. A strong post game is also part of his scoring package. He can be a nightmare for smaller perimeter players in the paint. On the left low box, he likes the quick turn shot. On the right low box, he comes to the middle of the lane and again elevates over the defense at point-blank range for two points or the old-fashioned three-point play. Henry is also a good screener, and he seems to understand that the screener might be open because he opens to the ball after he screens. He is a good defensive rebounder and is a threat to go coast-to-coast. Henry's a physical on the ball defender, who uses his strong body and arms-length distance to keep the ball handler in front of him, and he can recover from a defensive mistake with his super athletic ability. Henry should work to improve his midrange game; he is prone to charges with the way he attacks the rim, and at times he tends to over dribble and bog down the offense.

John Wall, PG (6-3, 180)
2009, Raleigh, N.C. / Word of God

Wall is a long-armed and athletic lead guard. He can organize and run the team and is an excellent ball handler and passer. At times, he seems to have eyes in the back of his head. He changes speed and directions with a great burst of speed around defenders. He pushes the ball with great pace and makes the right decision on the fast break. He also penetrates deep into the lane and has a special talent to fit the ball into tight places for layups that would result in a turnover for most players. Wall can also drive, draw and kick to open shooters. During this event, he kept his turnovers to a minimum. Wall's an explosive driver both ways in the half court, he likes to drive baseline especially from the left corner. He understands how to play, I saw him repeatedly pass read the defense and make the proper cut after giving up the ball. He's not a great shooter, but is good enough to keep the defense honest. He also showed range with all his 3-point attempts being from off the catch. His shooting form is not bad, but he has an inconsistent release and he does not put his hand toward the rim on his follow through. That problem can be corrected by shooting a high number of quality shots on a daily basis. He's a good defensive rebounder and is always a threat to go coast-to-coast in about four or five dribbles. He is also a skilled offensive rebounder at the scoring guard position when his coach inserts a smaller point guard. He plays in a defensive stance and is a pretty good on-ball defender with quick hands. At times, he hops around too much which could get him beat off the dribble. He's a good shot-blocker from behind in transition or from the weak side in the half court. Wall reminds me of Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics at times; he's an immediate impact player at the high major level.

D.J. Richardson, SG (6-3, 175)
2009, Peoria, Ill. / Central, Committed to Illinois

Richardson is a wiry, strong scorer. He has great stamina and plays with high energy. He displayed leadership qualities -- I repeatedly saw him correct and encourage his teammates. He has great speed and quickness with or without the ball. He advances the ball himself or sprints the wing in transition where he has the ability to get to the rim and finish with a dunk or shoot the deep 3. This kid's a big-time slasher and he weaves through and around traffic with ease. He has one of the best floater shots I have seen this summer. He shoots the floater two ways after he breaks down the defense. The first floater is in the lane where he can hang in the air and arc the ball over taller defenders. The second floater is when he takes off outside the lane and adjusts his body in midair with a slight twist to get a good angle to the rim. On both floater shots, he has great concentration and follows through. He welcomes contact in the lane and is not afraid to mix it up with the power forwards and centers. When he drives right, he most likely shoot the pull-up jumper. He can stop-and-pop before the defense can contest the shot. Uses the foot or jab fake to get the defender out of position then elevates for a 3 off the catch with a pretty release and follow through. He also sneaks inside from the perimeter for an offensive rebound. On defense, he rebounds and go coast-to-coast before the transition defense knows what hit them. He uses his quickness on defense to apply good ball pressure and loves to play for steals. Richardson has a good basketball IQ on the defensive end, and he jumps into passing lanes and deny his man the ball. He helps off the ball and sees most drives and comes over to cut it off. He has pretty good ball, you, man positioning, which helps a great deal when he get's to college. He also does a nice job of fronting the low post when stronger players try to post him up. He needs to get stronger and not settle for the jumper as much. Richardson's a great fit for the Illinois motion system. He should thrive in the great spacing of the Illini's offense and he gets creative coming off a variety of screening actions. He has high-major skills and talent.

Tommy Mason-Griffin, PG (5-11, 190) 2009, Houston/ Madison/ Oak Hill, Va.

A compact, physical scoring point guard, Mason-Griffin has tremendous speed and quickness. He's tough as nails and all business when he is on the court -- he displays killer instinct when he get's it going on the offensive end. Mason-Griffin's a great ball handler and shows good court vision. When he dribbles, he pounds the ball low and strong, and does a great job protecting the ball with his off hand. He loves to go between the legs into a crossover left to right then bust into a quick scoring drive to score or draw and kick. He also has a great hesitation move. Mason-Griffin's passes are crisp and he hits teammates as they break open while they are in scoring position. He's a very accurate passer, delivering the ball right in the shooting pocket below the chin and above the waist. Mason-Griffin advances the ball quickly in transition by the pass or dribble; he attacks until the defense stops him. Mason- Griffin has enough strength to take a hit from a post player and finish without any problem. He's a big-time shooter with NBA range. He has a quick trigger and if the defenders hands are down, put 3 in the score book. He can get on fire and make three or four in a row. He's clutch; Mason-Griffin demands the ball at the end of the game and can step to the line and make pressure free throws. He is tough to handle in late shot clock situations in college. The best way to defend him is with a taller athlete who can contest his shots and stay far enough back to handle his penetration. He's a physical on-ball defender with quick hands. He uses his quick feet and strong upper body to cut off drives. He reaches in on spins and lazy crossovers and can come up with a game-changing steal. Mason-Griffin keeps the pressure on the opposing point guard at all times. He's fun to watch and has the talent to play in any major conference.

Surprise Players

Andre Dawkins, SG (6-5, 195)
2010, Chesapeake, Va. / Atlantic Shores, Committed to Duke

He's a strong, physical guard with a scoring mentality. Dawkins passes the look test with flying colors. He has a big-time shot off the catch or dribble with range beyond the 3-point line. He shoots the ball smooth and easy with great elevation. Dawkins understands how to get open by reading penetration and getting to the vision of the passer. He sprints off screens and can get his shot off quickly. Dawkins likes to shoot the pull-up jumper going left. When he goes right, he looks to take it all the way to the rim where he is strong enough to finish over or around defenders. He sprints to the offensive glass from the perimeter and gets his share because of strength and athletic ability. On the defense end of the floor, he understands how to guard the ball and stay in front of his man. He uses his body well to hold his ground and be physical with the ball handler by absorbing contact with his chest and beating the offensive player to the spot. He is alert when in help position and leaves his man to cut off a drive when a teammate gets beat off the dribble. He needs to become a better defensive rebounder and work on developing more scoring moves off the dribble. A player who shoots as well as Dawkins won't be left alone once opponents scout him. He should be a great fit in the Duke drive-and-kick motion system and tough on man-to-man defense.

Kendall Marshall, PG (6-3, 170)
2010, Dumfries, Va. / Bishop O'Connell, Committed to North Carolina

A rock-solid, pass-first point guard, Marshall has great size and a tight handle. He has very good understanding and a feel for the game. He plays under control and with great pace. Runs the team and does a great job of reversing the ball and keeping the offense moving. He moves well without the ball and sets up teammates as they come off screens or while they are cutting to the basket. Marshall stays low on the dribble and protects the ball under intense ball pressure. He can dribble with speed, with both hands and can change gears with good hesitation moves to keep the defender off balance. It's also important to note that he does not get rattled in the heat of the battle. He looks up the floor immediately after receiving the outlet pass. He passes ahead to a streaking wing or attack off the dribble always probing to find a defensive mistake. He's an excellent penetrator who makes the right decisions on the break or in the half court. He likes to drive right and shoot the floater in the lane. Marshall also goes to a hard, left-hand drive into a pull-up jumper -- if he can't get all the way to the rim. He did not look to shoot the 3 much, but his form is very good. He has a good release and follow through. He has a nice stroke on the free-throw line and can make them in the clutch. He must look to shoot the 3 more when the defense backs off to take away his penetration into the lane. He could be a better defensive rebounder in order to avoid the outlet pass and get the break started sooner. He must look to push the ball harder, which is a huge responsibility when he arrives in Chapel Hill to run the Carolina fast break. He is great at spreading the ball around to all those McDonalds All-Americans he plays with in college. Marshall's a high-major player.

Dion Waiters, PG, SG, SF (6-3, 215)
2010, Philadelphia, Pa. / South Kent, Committed to Syracuse

Waters is a strong power guard with long arms who can play all three perimeter positions. He plays with swagger and is a fearless competitor. A graceful athlete with the ball, he did not show great run and jump athletic ability but plenty of power. I did not see him attempt a three point shot, but from about 17 feet and in he was terrific. He's an excellent north and south ball handler who can get to the rim at will. Can dribble through contact and get the ball wherever he wants. Although he is not a true point, he has great passing skill and court vision. At times, I thought I saw some moves that former Syracuse point guard Pearl Washington made back in the '80s. He can bring the ball up the floor or run the lane. He has a great hesitation move to lift the defender and can go between his legs and explode into the lane where he welcomes contact. He can also avoid contact with his great body control and ability to finish with either hand. He penetrates to score first, but is unselfish enough to hit the open man when the defense collapses. He also likes the left-to-right crossover. He has great escapability from the on-ball defender. Waiters is really good working off the high-ball screen. He has the strength to get by the bigger help defender and again get into the lane where he is at his best. At times, he can try to force the issue which makes him very charge prone. He needs to prove he can knock down perimeter shots in college when teams start backing away because of his ability to score in the lane. He's a very capable defensive player when challenged. He has good anticipation on when to jump into the passing lane, but must be a better on-ball defender. Waiters is one of those players who the defense knows is going to the rim, but they can't do anything about it. He should be good in the Orange's zone defense because of the way he anticipates the next pass to excite the huge Carrier Dome crowd in transition.

Kammeon Holsey, PF (6-8, 195)
2009, Sparta, Ga. / Hancock Central, Committed to Georgia Tech

Holsey is all arms and legs. He has a very thin build, but the length that every coach in the country wants. He is an extra long, quick jumping power forward who can defend a scoring guard and a small forward in addition to his own position. He runs the court with ease with very long strides. He changes directions effortlessly and seems to have great stamina. Holsey can beat his defender down the floor in transition whenever he decides to turn on the jets. He has good hands and is an athletic finisher above the rim. His area of operation in the half court is about 15 feet and in. He attacks the basket from the high post and can be at the rim in one dribble with great elevation and hang time. In the low post, he likes to use the quick turnaround jumper to the middle on the right side of the floor after he fakes to the baseline. Still a little raw skill wise and his best offensive days are ahead of him. He's a very good rebounder especially on the offensive end of the floor. He is so athletic and jumps so quickly that most of the time he has jumped twice and tipped in a miss before some players have left the floor once. He's an excellent shot-blocker with good timing while guarding the ball or coming from the weakside. In addition to skill development, he must get stronger in order to help him defend stronger post players and to help finish plays through contact. He is already a high-major player but has not scratched the surface.

Mike Broghammer, PF (6-9, 223)
2009 Mound, Minn. / Hopkins

What a pleasant surprise to watch this young man emerge as somewhat of a sleeper this week. Broghammer competed at a very high level against big name competition. He dropped 22 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in an overtime win vs. Xavier Henry, Daniel Orton and a very talented Athletes first team. It was not so much the number of points Broghammer scored, it was the way he did it that was so impressive. He does all the dirty work for his team -- he rebounds on both ends and when he goes to the offensive glass, he does not accept box outs. He defends the low post and plays with intensity and passion. He runs the floor hard every time. He's sneaky athletic and can finish above the rim in transition. His range extends to about 15 feet, and he can also face up and attack the lane off the dribble. He get's to the free-throw line with regularity and has a good touch. He's not fancy, but he gets the job done. His game and body are still developing, but he has the heart to be a high major recruit in the right system.

Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton. He played at Ohio University from 1986-1990 and was an all-MAC first teamer his senior season.

Reggie Rankin

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