By Ian Powers
The second season of the Nike EYBL came to a close at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, SC last week. It proved to be a successful and established itself firmly as the top event on the AAU circuit. The first half of the July evaluation period was full of head and assistant coaches from just about every Division 1 school in America. The talent was second to none and fans, coaches, and scouts alike all got what they came to see. While seemingly every kid in attendance had talent, there were a few who stood out above the rest. Let’s take a look back and recap the top players from the event.
Nerlens Noel, 6’11" 208, C, Tilton School, Everett, MA 2013 – Noel was the most dominant player of the event. He blocked shots at an alarming rate and changed more. His presence on the defensive end was the main reason why his BABC team walked away as Peach Jam champions. He is making a case for top prospect in the 2013 class and he is just beginning to scratch the surface of his ability. His offense is looking better each time out and it’s just a matter of time before he will be mentioned as a possible # 1 pick someday. All of the heavy hitters in the college game were on hand tracking his every move. All of the majors will be recruiting him and he will make some lucky coach very happy.
Julius Randle, 6’9" 245, PF, Prestonwood Academy, McKinney,TX 2013 – The big fella got off to somewhat of a slow start by his standards, but by the end of the week he was motivated and dominant. He is a matchup nightmare for opposing teams because of his inside/outside game. He is grown man strong and he doesn’t mind using that to his advantage around the basket. At times he looks like an adult playing with middle school kids. He has some issues from time to time finishing in traffic, but make no mistake about it he is as talented as they come. He ended his week with a 30 pt, 10 reb effort in a loss to eventual tournament runner-up Memphis YOMCA.
Jabari Parker, 6’7" 220, SF, Simeon, Chicago, IL 2013 – Parker was the best player on the floor in just about every game he played in. His versatility was on full display and he was the lone difference in some of his teams victories. He rebounds at a high rate, handles well, passes well, defends, and shoots it from deep and mid range. He still needs to become more automatic from the three point line, but he is the type of kid that will iron out any deficiencies in his game. At times he is too unselfish and doesn’t carry a team the way you would want from someone with his ability. He is a great kid and will be a superstar at the highest level barring injury.
Brandon Ashley, 6’9" 220, PF, Findlay Prep, Dublin, CA 2012 – Ashley’s versatility was a joy to watch last week. He has been on a tear since the NBA camp and the questions about his consistency and motor are starting to become non issues. He gave every player he matched up against fits because of the diversity of his game. When he entered high school he was strictly a low post player who relied on athleticism and length to get things done. He has added a reliable 15 to 17 jumper and has a face up game that utilizes his quickness against other bigs. He has great form on his shot and seems to be working to extend his shooting range. He is a super talent and top 10 player in his class. He has a chance to be special if he continues adding dimensions to his game.
Aaron Gordon, 6’7" 210, SF, Archbishop Mitty, San Jose, CA 2013 – Gordon might be the best run and jump athlete in the country. He turns down a simple dunk for a spectacular one and entertains the crowd with his high flying act. He rebounds the ball very well, especially on the offensive end and his versatility allows him to start and sometimes finish the break. His handle and passing in the open court is great. Gordon plays primarily inside because of his lack of consistency on his jumpshot. He has good form, but sometimes seems to be aiming the ball instead of shooting it. He needs to utilize this part of his game to round out his skill set. His upside rivals anyone in the country and if he wants to work, he can be as good as he wants to be.
Kyle Anderson, 6’8" 220, PG,SG,SF,PF, St. Anthony’s, Fairview, NJ 2012 – Slo-Mo was a stat sheet stuffer at the Peach Jam. He did everything for his team and displayed the skills that make him such a unique player. He is not quick or athletic by any means, but he knows what he’s doing on the floor. He turns his back to the basket and spins on his opponent constantly, a la Magic Johnson. The thing that makes him special is his IQ. He directs traffic and tells everyone where to be and more often than not something good comes out of it. He averaged a triple double and was considered by some as the best player in attendance.
Rasheed Sulaimon, 6’4" 183, SG, Strake Jesuit, Houston, TX 2012 – The Duke bound sniper had his A game with him in South Carolina. He was money from distance and put the ball on the floor and got to the basket at will. He played his trademark intense defense and was a factor in every game. His energy and desire to win really stand out and make you root for him as a player. Coach K and other members of the Duke coaching staff were in attendance and they could not have hoped for a better performance. He is establishing himself as a legit pro prospect. He has similar size to former Duke standout Nolan Smith, but is a better shooter and athlete. He will see time the very second he arrives in Durham because of his skills and defensive intensity.
Jarnell Stokes, 6’8′ 240, PF, Central, Memphis, TN 2012 – The powerfully built Stokes wasted no time establishing his presence on the box. He carved out space and scored at a high rate around the basket. He stepped out and showed a consistent jumper from 17 feet and did his usual damage on the glass. He along with teammate Shaq Goodwin were the main reasons for Memphis YOMCA making it all the way to the finals.
Tyus Jones, 6’0" 160, PG, Apple Valley, Apple Valley, MN 2014- Jones is the youngest player on this list and he definitely belongs. He is a coach’s dream and the term coach on the floor suits him very well. He knows how to run the show and put his team in good position to win every ballgame. He gets to the basket, shoots it well from the outside and directs traffic. He is a natural leader and plays with a poise and polish unlike most kids in his class. Coaches raved about his demeanor and maturity all week. He will definitely be in the mix for consideration as the top point guard in his class and some think he maybe the top point guard in the country right now.
Jahlil Okafor, 6’10" 255, C, Whitney Young, Chicago, IL 2014 – Okafor was outstanding on the box last week. He used his sheer size and strength to his advantage and scored at will. He also is showing signs of a face up game where he can either make the 15 foot jumper or put the ball on the floor and get to the basket. He has great hands and agility for a kid his size. He is advanced in terms of passing out of doulble teams and rebounds the ball in and out of his area. He could stand to be in a little better shape, but he is young and time is on his side. The 2014 class seems to have the makings of a great one and Okafor is in the conversation for the # 1 ranking.
Other Notable Standouts: