The 5th Nike Elite Youth Basketball League season is in the books and a new champion was crowned after Each 1 Teach 1’s 108-102 victory over the CP3 All-Stars on Sunday afternoon in the prestigious Peach Jam. The Nike season began in Los Angeles during mid-April and finished up in North Augusta, SC during the first live period in July. After taking advantage of AAU free agency in early May, the Florida-based E1T1 team went on to finish the year on a 17 game win streak. There were many stellar performances throughout the four day event and here are some of the players that left a lasting impression.
Top 17U Players by Class:
Stanley Johnson, 6’7”, F, 2014, Oakland Soldiers
The Soldiers went 3-2 in Pool Play and failed to advance into the quarterfinals to defend their championship; however Johnson was still dominant in four out of his five games. He finished first in scoring with 25.6 points per game and third in rebounding with 10.2 rebounds per game. On the first day, Johnson watched his team get off to a 0-2 start which included a crazy finish against The Travelers at night (James Bolden hit a game winning three with 0.3 seconds left, followed by a Johnson heave from three quarter court that went in after the buzzer). On Friday and Saturday, he turned into a man possessed and went for 33, 24, and 29 points in his last three games. While not his strong suit, Johnson hit 3-5 three pointers on Friday morning and also used his speed and strength to get to the basket at will. Playing point forward, Johnson was a bull in transition and finished with contact at the rim. He hit some floaters and also a game winning jump shot giving CP3 their first loss after he beat LJ Peak off the dribble. While the Soldiers lost out on a tie-breaker in their pool, Johnson put on the most dominant display of basketball seen all week.
Chieck Diallo, 6’9”, PF, 2015, Team Scan
This could have easily gone to Malik Newman, but Diallo was just as deserving. He averaged 10 points, 8.2 rebounds, and league leading 2.8 blocks per game. Nobody ran the court harder than Diallo and this led to easy fast break opportunities for lay-ups and dunks. While still raw in the post, Diallo did perform a few nice moves off one dribble while also displaying a solid pair of hands. He had his best offensive game early on with 20 points on 7-11 shooting in an upset of Houston Hoops. In this game he also controlled the paint with his quick leaping ability which allowed him to block shots and corral rebounds. While the offensive skill will come, he already possesses a motor and the fast twitch muscle fibers that will make coaches follow his every move over the next year.
Dedric Lawson, 6’8”, F, 2016, Team Penny
The younger brother of a teammate and one of the youngest players in the league, Lawson turned into Team Penny’s go-to guy during the Peach Jam. With the Spiece Indy Heat dealing with injuries, Lawson helped lead his team to the semi-finals scoring in double digits in all seven games. On Friday evening, Lawson scored a season high 28 points in a closely contested contest with Team Final. He took advantage of his taller defender and knocked in three’s from the top of the key and also scored in the post with a right handed hook to give his team some breathing room. While he’s a work in process when it comes to shot selection, there is no denying the talent this youngster has. Already able to play inside and outside, Lawson will have a few more chances to make his mark in Peach Jam.
Reid Travis, 6’7, 2014, Howard Pulley
In front of a slew of college coaches, Travis gained a ton of new admirers to his rugged style of play. The two sport star was an absolute monster on the offensive end as he averaged 22.8 ppg on 65.6% shooting. He used his physicality to out muscle defenders down low but also stepped outside of the paint to consistently knock down his 12-15 foot jump shots. On Friday morning, Travis went for 29 points on 11-13 shooting as he mixed in dunks with right handed hooks and mid-range jump shots. Throughout the entire spring and summer AAU season, Travis has time and time again performed at a high level.
Joel Berry, 6’0”, PG, 2014, E1T1
The leader of the championship team was point guard Joel Berry who controlled the tempo and orchestrated the offense throughout the weekend. The future North Carolina Tar Heel averaged 13.4 points and 7.6 assists per game in front of his future coach Roy Williams. Berry primarily ran the high pick and roll with big man Trayvon Reed and curled off the screen for mid-range jump shots or found his talented teammates for easy baskets. He saved his best game for last when he scored 22 points on 8-16 shooting to go with eight assists in the championship game. After winning a state championship, Berry can add an EYBL one to his resume.
D’Angelo Russell, 6’4”, SG, 2014, E1T1
The much maligned guard, and recent Ohio State Buckeyes pledge, redeemed himself from earlier on in the season with his Peach Jam play. After struggling in April and May, Russell showed why he is considered as one of the top guard prospects in the country. He led E1T1 in scoring with 14.1 ppg, but also displayed his versatility by adding in 5.8 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. In the semi-finals, Russell put up an extremely rare triple-double sighting with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists. Thad Matta and Greg Paulus liked what they saw from their future guard throughout Peach Jam. Also, this is the third year in a row that Russell has won a championship during the first live week in July with the past two coming at the Adidas Invitational with the Louisville Magic.
L.J. Peak, 6’4”, SG, 2014, CP3
Playing in his home state, Peak (a Georgetown Hoyas pledge) got off to a fast start scoring 24 points in his first game and double figures in seven out of eight games. Peak’s scoring prowess was a key tool for the EYBL runner-ups as he averaged 16.5 points per game compared to 11.3 during the regular season. Peak was always active on the offensive end whether it was throwing down dunks as he drove through the lane, hitting pull-up jump shots, or shooting three’s. Peak played with the confidence shown during his junior season in games against Simeon and was often the go-to guy for CP3.
Theo Pinson, 6’6”, 2014, G/F, CP3
Pinson led his team in scoring with 17.4 points per game and was extremely active throughout the tournament. In hard fought games against Meanstreets and in the championship, Pinson got to the line 18 times each game. In these two games he hit 33 out of 36 attempts. While his outside shot wasn’t falling (27%), Pinson was active going to the basket and picking up rebounds (6.2 rbg). Several times Pinson utilized a spin move in the lane to freeze his defender and converted an easy lay-up. He also brought the ball up on occasion and showed a solid handle and strong decision making ability. Pinson’s full skill set was on display during CP3’s march to the championship.
Aaron Holiday, 6’1”, 2015, G, Cal Supreme
The younger brother of Jrue and Justin Holiday, Aaron made his own name during the Peach Jam. Despite averaging nine points a game during the regular season, Holiday came out with his scoring hat on in the first game Thursday morning. Going against the top regular season team in Team Takeover, Holiday scored 18 points off the bench to spark the upset. He used his speed to aggressively attack the basket and utilized superb body control to either finish amongst the trees or draw contact for free throw attempts. He rarely got blocked and found holes in the lane every game. While Holiday was very hesitant to take outside jump shots, he still went 5-12 from the three point line. After a subpar regular season, it looks as though the light turned on for Holiday.
Bennie Boatwright, 6’8”, 2015, Cal Supreme
In five games, the tall, lanky wing from the west coast proved to be one of the top three point shooters in the EYBL as he hit on 42% of his 36 attempts. Against the champions, Boatwright connected on six of nine shots from deep. If he has time to get his feet set the shot is pretty much a lock to go in. While a solid outside shooter, Boatwright did not do much in terms of utilizing his height to post-up small defenders or score in the paint. With added strength this could be another dimension that enhances his skill set.
Charles Matthews, 6’5”, 2015, Meanstreets
Always considered to be one of the top guards in the 2015 class, Matthews left no doubt during the Peach Jam. While he is a very athletic shooting guard, a lot of times Matthews could go a whole game operating as just a jump shooter. With a strong vertical leap, he can get his shot almost anytime and likes to use a crossover dribble to create space. Matthews averaged 13.8 ppg, but was more aggressive than normal during the week. Against CP3, Matthews caught the ball on the wing and took one dribble to get by Pinson and finished with a one-handed dunk down the lane. With a continued aggressive mindset, Matthews could be set for a stellar junior season.
Tyler Ulis, 5’8”, PG, 2014, Meanstreets
The diminutive point guard began his ascension during the high school season and was a man of a few offers. Now, after a stellar AAU season Ulis is still picking up offers despite already cutting his list down. Ulis is one of, if not the best court generals in high school and proved his worth in a match-up with Tyus Jones. In this match-up Ulis went for 22 points and 17 assists with only four turnovers. Despite his size, Ulis can play against anyone. He can shoot the three and also get into the lane off the dribble or pick and roll and can also finish with a floater or at the foul line. Ulis is one of the most enjoyable players to watch in the class of 2014.
Malachi Richardson, 6’5”, G/F, 2015, Team Final
The lone junior on a talented east coast team, Richardson and his ridiculous 6’11.5” wing span showed off a little bit of everything to the college coaches attending his games this past weekend. He played his best in the first and last game of the tournament. Against the NY Lightning, Richardson had one of the best hot streaks seen in the Peach Jam. As his team trailed by nine points to start the half, Richardson curled around a screen to score on a soft five footer. He then added in another short jump shot, before hitting two three’s in a row and then three out of four free throws after being fouled attacking the rim. In the semi-finals he went for 23 points on 9-18 shooting. Primarily a shooter, Richardson’s size and length allows him to play and guard multiple positions.
King McClure, 6’3”, G, 2015, Texas Titans
Absent from the EYBL regular season due to an injury, McClure wasted no time in putting up 21.8 ppg. One of the strongest guards you will find, McClure used his running back type frame to attack the basket time and time again. He also hit 4-7 three’s in his first game back. Primarily focused on scoring, McClure showed that he looks to be fully healed just in time for the July AAU season.
Boubacar Moungoro, 6’6”, SF, 2014, E1T1
Moungoro is not nearly as highly rated as his other teammates, but he could have the most NBA potential given his size and strength. Already an ideal height and weight for a NBA small forward, the Mali native averaged 12.1 points per game on 52.1% shooting. While he only shot 29% from three, Moungoro is an athletic slasher that does not shy away from contact when going to the rim.
Robert Johnson, 6’3”, G, 2014, Boo Williams
Coming off strong performances at the NBPA Top 100 camp and the Lebron James Skills Academy, Johnson got off to a slow start against Mac Irvin Fire in his first game. Despite the slow start, Johnson got cooking late and led his team to a comeback win which included the go ahead shot (Note: Boo had to forfeit its game due to the use of an “ineligible player”). After his game winning heroics, Johnson stayed hot for the remainder of the tournament averaging 20.2 points per game while shooting 46.2% from behind the arc on 39 shots. With his stellar play over the past month, Johnson recently accumulated scholarship offers from Memphis, Indiana, Georgetown, Providence, and Cincinnati with interest from UNC, Syracuse, and UCLA.
Zach McCormick, 6’2”, G, 2014, The Travelers
The high flying guard from Turpin High recently received a Tennessee offer after his play during Peach Jam. He averaged 12 points a game this past weekend including a 20 point performance against Howard Pulley. In this game he hit a lot of difficult shots including fade-away’s, runner’s in the paint, and contested outside jump shots. Despite only standing 6’2”, McCormick can get up and he putting his leaping ability on display with several two handed dunks. The entire Tennessee staff came out to watch McCormick on Friday and they apparently liked what they saw.
Under the Radar:
Chris Sandifer, 6’6”, SG, 2014, Oakland Supreme
Overshadowed by teammate Stanley Johnson, the recent Missouri Tigers commit was an intriguing prospect throughout Peach Jam. During his first few games Sandifer’s preferred method of scoring came via the jump shot; however he also used his athleticism and length to get to the basket. In an upset win over CP3 on Friday night, Sandifer went 3-6 from behind the arc and seemed to gain some confidence. He carried this confidence over into his fifth game and lit up Howard Pulley for 28 points on 4-7 shooting from behind the arc. With all of the Pac-12 coaches on hand to watch Oakland, they were most likely all kicking themselves for letting Sandifer out of the region.
Jarvis Johnson, 6’0”, PG, 2015, Howard Pulley
Howard Pulley was mainly a two man show throughout the EYBL season with Tyus Jones and Reid Travis; however Johnson stepped up his play in the Peach Jam averaging 12.6 ppg. During his five games Johnson proved to be one of the most athletic point guards in the tournament. He was able to beat defenders off the dribble and also flew through the air for some impressive dunks. The high flying athlete can also shoot. Against the Travelers, he went 4-5 from behind the arc and hit 37% of his three point shots overall. With the departure of Jones and Travis, Johnson could be the main show for Howard Pulley next year.
Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman, 6’4”, 2014, Team Final
Abdur-Rahkman came off the bench and only averaged 12 minutes a game during Peach Jam, but was impressive in his time on the court. A guard that loves to attack the basket, Abdur-Rahkman was a blur in the open court and quite possibly the best coast to coast finisher in North Augusta. In his first game against the NY Lightning, he caught the ball on the break twice and exploded down the right side of the court and finished through contact. While very explosive on the break, Abdur-Rahkman also connected on 5-9 three point attempts. Originally receiving strong interest from A-10 and CAA schools, some of the Big East coaches might have been enamored with his recent play.
Alex Owens, 6’8”, 2015, E1T1
Owens came off the bench for E1T1 and provided a reliable scoring presence every game. He was a beast on the boards and also had a great pair of hands as he was the recipient of several Berry passes off the pick and roll. Throughout the tournament, Owens shot 76% and averaged 9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
Raymond Spalding, 6’9”, 2015, The Travelers
He didn’t start and only averaged 2.6 ppg in 12 minutes, but this upcoming junior oozes potential. A tall and lanky forward, Spalding impressed with his versatility and ability to run the floor. After an injury plagued start to his sophomore season, Spalding is rounding into form. With another year of growth, Spalding should be ready to provide a major contribution to his team in the spring of 2014.