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Saturday, July 13, 2013
Many of the top high school basketball players will descend upon Riverview Park once again this week for the Nike EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam. There are an abundance of storylines for this year’s tournament through Sunday.
“The best part about the Peach Jam is that when Nike brings the best talent to North Augusta it is ‘the show’ versus if they’re in one of the bigger cities where they compete with other events,” said Rick Meyer superintendent for North Augusta Parks, Recreation and Leisure Services. “It makes for a great atmosphere at the event.”
Adding to that atmosphere will be the talent displayed on the hardwood. The top national tournament will have much to offer.
There’s the storied Houston Hoops program, which boasts three of the top 25 players in the 2014 recruiting class. Another Texas squad, Team Texas Elite out of Dallas, will have the challenge of competing with a roster of mostly sophomores in the 17U division.
Houston Hoops program director Hal Pastner says fans will have a chance to see some future college stars playing in the tournament. The program has been a staple for years, and they’ve come to North Augusta before with stacked rosters featuring the likes of Emeka Okafor and Kendrick Perkins.
Okafor’s cousin and top prospect Jahlil will be in action at the Peach Jam this year with the Mac Irvin Fire.
While watching this years Houston Hoops 17U team spectators will get to see Justin Jackson, Justice Winslow and Kelly Oubre. All three are among the top 25 recruits in the 2014 class. Jackson has committed to North Carolina, while Winslow and Oubre are both undecided. Winslow is currently competing in the 19U World Championships in the Czech Republic.
“All three of them are dangerous and can put on a show,” said Pastner, who started the Houston Hoops program as a way to get his son, Memphis coach Josh Pastner, involved in basketball. “Fans are in for a treat when they see the team play.”
The talented young athletes are what Meyer likes about the being a part of the tournament each year which has been hosted by North Augusta for a decade.
“You’re going to get a chance to see the future college All-Americans and NBA talent,” Meyer said.
While the Peach Jam will also feature a 16U tournament, the EYBL Finals portion of the event will feature some of the younger talent also. Wes Grandstaff’s Team Texas Select squad is one of the youngest teams playing in the EYBL Finals; only three of his players are juniors, and their top stars, Elijah Thomas and Austion Grandstaff, are a pair of stars from the 2015 class. Grandstaff said both play an exciting brand of basketball.
No local teams qualified for the EYBL Finals, however, South Carolina native L.J. Peak will be in action as a member of CP3 All-Stars. Peak, a member of the Gaffney high basketball team, recently committed to Georgetown.
Eric Russell covers sports for the Aiken Standard.