NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – From Arkansas Wings young guard Malik Monk seemingly playing with Pogo Sticks on his feet to Tyler Ulis being the smallest player with the biggest game we learned quite a bit at this year’s Nike Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C.
As tough as it was we’ve zeroed in on five key things that we now know after five days of nonstop hoops.
1. Each 1 Teach 1’s program is second to none
Both of the Florida based AAU program’s teams – 16’s and 17’s – reached the Peach Jam championship game. The 17’s took home the program’s first title with a 102-98 win over CP3 All Stars (N.C.) Sunday afternoon.
E1T1’s 16’s fell to the Arkansas Wings, 67-48, in their title game.
For E1T1 17’s coach Edward Francis having both teams reach the finals was indicative of where the program is headed.
“I’m just so proud of our guys,” Francis said. “We truly started from the bottom and to see how hard they worked to accomplish this is special. Even our 16’s; they didn’t win, but to get there and have a chance to compete for a title is great. This is the toughest AAU circuit and to come out on top is a win for the whole program.”
E1T1 point guard Joel Berry, a North Carolina commit, scored 22 points and dished out eight assists, while shooting guards D’Angelo Russell, an Ohio State commit, and Grayson Allen, a Duke commit, added 22 points and 16 points respectively. E1T1 forward Boubaca Moungoro chipped with 21 points and seven rebounds.
2. high-wire monk
Arkansas Wings guard Malik Monk has a 40-inch vertical, but Sunday afternoon when the Wings knocked off E1T1 to claim the Peach Jam 16-and-under title, it looked more like a 50-inch.
“I get up a little bit,” said Monk, who is ranked No. 11 in the ESPN 25 for 2016.
If ever there were an understatement.
Late in the championship win, Monk skied over more than four players for a put-back dunk that had his entire forearm over the rim. After that, he did a windmill dunk on the break to send the crowd into a frenzy.
“Dunking is definitely a part of my game,” Monk said. “But I just try and do it all. I do whatever it takes for my team to get the win. That’s what I pride myself in.”
3. Ulis is elite
Mean Streets (Ill.) point guard Tyler Ulis may only be 5-foot-8, 145 pounds but his production this weekend made him seem larger than life.
Ulis averaged 19.8 points and 7.8 assists a game while going head-to-head with two of the top three point guards in the country – No. 1 Tyus Jones and No. 3 Joel Berry.
Ulis is ranked No. 8 among point guards in the ESPN 100 for 2014. Coming into the AAU season he wasn’t ranked at all.
“I just try and give it everything that I’ve got when I’m out there,” Ulis said. “I definitely play with a chip on my shoulder because of my size and the fact that I wasn’t ranked, but that just makes me better. I definitely feel like I’m showing people what I can do. It’s working out pretty good so far.”
4. Peak is in for a big year
CP3 All Stars (N.C.) forward L.J. Peak was excited to be back in his home state to play in Peach Jam, especially after spending last year away from home attending Whitney Young in Chicago.
He parlayed that emotion into a productive weekend, averaging 16.8 points per game and helping CP3 reach the finals.
“I’ve been back for a while, but this was the first time I was back here playing in a big time tournament again,” said Peak, a rising senior who is committed to Georgetown. “I was more focused on coming out and getting the title, but we came up a little short; we’ll just have to work harder going forward.”
After a solid year at Whitney Young and starring role in the toughest AAU circuit in the country, expect big numbers from Peak next season when he returns to Gaffney (Gaffney, S.C.).
5. Gill-Caesar is ready to be a star
Back in November, Andrew Wiggins told USA Today HSS that his Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.) teammate, Montaque Gill-Caesar, was the best player in the 2015 class.
Per the ESPN 60 he’s actually No. 17, but after a stellar weekend with CIA Bounce’s 16’s, Gill-Casear seems closer to proving Wiggins right.
Gill-Caesar averaged 24 points per game, turned in a few Sportscenter-esque plays and led his team to the Final Four.
Expect the Express to thrive with Caesar in a starring role.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY