NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — Five things we learned Saturday from the Nike EYBL Peach Jam:
1) We’ll get the Harry Giles III vs. Jayson Tatum face-off, just not in the final
At the outset of Peach Jam, visions of bouncing Harry Giles III and Jayson Tatum post-ups danced in our heads. Now we’re getting to see them face off against each other with everything on the line, or at least almost anything.
Instead, Team CP3’s upset loss to Team Final paved the way to a semifinal meeting between the teams helmed by the top two consensus prospects in the Class of 2016. With both Giles and Tatum firing on all cylinders in Saturday night’s quarterfinals, Sunday morning’s matchup should have everything … except a trophy at the end.
2) The winner of Team CP3 vs. St. Louis Eagles may not be a title favorite
The best two players are facing off in the semifinals, so whichever wins is the tournament favorite, right? Don’t be so sure.
This isn’t tennis after all, and as good as the supporting casts around both Giles and Tatum have been, they may struggle to keep up with Team Georgia should the psuedo-homestanding team knock off Team Takeover. When asked which team he thought would provide his squad the most trouble, Team CP3 head coach Jon Adams cited the Georgians, particularly because of their depth of size, which would make it easier to defend Giles and Team CP3s other bigs. The sheer power and girth of Udoka Azubuike could also cause problems for Giles, Quate’ McKinzie and Grant Williams inside.
Of course, Team CP3’s small lineup, which fields two point guards (Alterique Gilbert and Darnell Rogers) could cause similar problems for the Georgia Stars, all of which underscores a comforting truth entering the semifinals: This tournament is still anyone’s game.
3) Remy Martin adds offers from Kansas, UCLA
Remy Martin is more than just the name of a fine cognac; it’s also the name of a fine young point guard.
As he has steadily received more exposure, Martin has landed successively more attention from coaches. That may now have peaked, with both UCLA and Kansas offering the SoCal star and Oakland Soldiers point guard a scholarship. Martin, who sat out most of the second half of Oakland’s tourney finale loss against the New Jersey Playaz with an ongoing back problem, is one of the most intriguing point guards in the nation. A rising junior, he’s played with top talent both on the AAU circuit with Oakland and at Sierra Canyon, where he teams up with fellow super junior Cody Riley. Now he’s starting to get more widespread recognition for his talents, though he says his current offers are still short of his ultimate aim:
“I want to have a scholarship to every major (basketball) school in the country so I can go wherever I want to,” Martin said. “That’s my goal.”
4) Family first for Alterique Gilbert
Just days before he traveled to Peach Jam, Alterique Gilbert ended speculation about his college future by committing to UConn. There are plenty of reasons for the decision — Kevin Ollie’s aggressive, guard-focused style of play, the ability to pair with Jalen Adams in Storrs among them. Yet, it sounds like a big part of Gilbert’s decision was driven by family.
“I had a great relationship with Coach Ollie, and my Mom felt really comfortable with Coach Ollie, too.” Gilbert said. “That just helped make it feel like the right fit.”
Just the latest reminder that if you want their sons, sometimes you have to recruit the moms.
5. Larry Brown always has more fun than anyone in the gym
During the face off between Harry Giles III’s Team CP3 and Malik Monk’s Arkansas Wings Elite, this reporter happened to be seated exactly one empty chair over from SMU head coach Larry Brown. The basketball legend was a non-stop whir of basketball IQ, mixed with good-natured back-and-forth ribbing with other coaches and occasional colloquial quips, a mix that underscored why he’s the perfect “dean” of college hoops coaches. To whit, across 100 minutes, Brown:
1) Diagramed a pair of innovative shifting offensive sets … and how to defend them, with Illinois head coach John Groce, with the two agreeing to keep in touch;
2) Started an in-depth strategic and player-specific conversation with George Mason assistant coach Aaron Kelly;
3) Asked Wake Forest coach Danny Manning, one of his former players, what the score was because he couldn’t see the scoreboard;
4) Tried to get Kansas assistant Norm Roberts to cross the court to sit in the empty seat next to him (Roberts declined);
5) Marveled at the skill and intellect of two different players in the game he was watching (we won’t mention which ones);
6) Quizzed SMU associate head coach Tim Jankovich about what they were doing to recruit a pair of targets;
7) Complained about his hotel room, including a story about water from the back of the toilet squirting up toward his face;
8) Asked Danny Manning the score again;
9) Called over Norm Roberts again (to no avail, again);
10) Stayed until the final whistle, unlike many of his colleagues;
In short, Larry Brown was exactly as you’d expect or dream he might be. He was the most Larry Brown who ever Larry Brown-ed, and that made him wildly entertaining. Then again, Larry Brown has always been entertaining: