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Nike Peach Jam: Day 1

Mon, 07/13/2009 - 12:17pm
The 9am game featured a match up between Each One Teach One (Brandon Knight and Austin Rivers) and Howard Pulley Panthers (Harrison Barnes).

Brandon KnightBrandon KnightThe game was a blowout from the tip. E1T1 jumped out to a 20 point lead in the first quarter behind Austin Rivers excellent scoring. Rivers was aggressive from the start getting to the basket and shooting the long ball. He was able to get any shot he wanted, including a beautiful drive right and baseline spin move back into the middle of the lane for a three point play.

Brandon Knight was very solid. He made some heady plays and really showed an improved floor game that should ease any concerns about him being a true point guard. He won't wow you with his athleticism or burst, but his improved upper body is apparent with his ability to use his body to get to where he wants to go.

On the flip side, Harrison Barnes' team was overmatched from the start, but he did everything he could to keep his team within striking distance. While it is apparent that he is relatively new to playing on the perimeter, it is quite impressive to see what he is capable of doing and quite scary to imagine what he can become with a little more polish. His jumpshot is consistent out to three and he has a rapidly improving midrange game. He makes good decisions in the pick and roll situation and runs the floor extremely well. Coach K, Bill Self, and Roy Williams were all seated in the same row with a few seats separating them.

It will be an interesting situation to see play out over the next few months with regards to his recruitment. Overall, all 3 players lived up to their hype and lofty national rankings.

In a later game, top ranked junior Michael Gilchrist and Team Final was in action against the Georgia Stars. Some have anointed Gilchrist as the best player in the country regardless of class. I am not willing to go that far, but he is a very good young player, who has yet to turn 16 years of age. His best qualities are his all out hustle and his ability to hit the offensive glass. He was able to step out and knock down a three in the first half and showed some ball handling ability, highlighted by a nice right to left crossover and a floater plus the foul. His length and motor are too much for most defenders to contend with, but he still has a considerable amount of work to do on his skill level.

His body is another area that could use improvement, but he's only 15 and quite possibly still growing. The gym was packed with coaches from all over the country. Gilchrist is an intriguing prospect who will be very exciting to watch develop over the next couple of years.

On the flip side, their were others who failed to match their press clippings. The much anticipated match up between Jared Sullinger and Joshua Smith never materialized. Both guys were taken out early and never got into a rhythm. Sullinger is an undersized (overweight) power player who will have trouble with anyone with length and athleticism. He uses his huge body to his advantage around the basket, but will have trouble at the next level, similar to the struggles that Samardo Samuels experienced this year at Louisville.

Josh Smith has been criticized this spring and summer and his listless play continued. He recently had a tonsillectomy, so I am willing to give him a pass today. Smith's teammate, Tony Wroten, the much heralded junior from Seattle also failed to impress in the one half that I watched. He still is very left hand dominant and has a very flat jumpshot that needs to be improved before he can take advantage of his natural physical gifts. However he has been very impressive earlier in the summer, so we'll have to see how he does the rest of the way.
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