NORTH AUGUSTA, SC — The Nike Peach Jam is typically regarded as the best grassroots tournament of the summer as the championship of the Nike EYBL is decided during the opening week of the July live evaluation period.
With so many elite prospects all competing for the biggest title in summer basketball, it makes for some fun basketball and it also provides a good measuring stick for the future of basketball since there are so many high-profile matchups. Here’s a look at 10 of the top performers at Peach Jam, ranked in order of performance.
This ranking does not necessarily relate to status as a prospect or future NBA standing, but notes will be provided on future outlook for each player as well.
1. Michael Porter Jr., 6’10" F, MoKan Elite – Putting himself in serious discussion for the No. 1 spot in the Class of 2017 was Porter, who had an unbelievable week in helping MoKan win every game on their way to the title. Porter made scoring look easy as he also contributed double-figure rebounds most games and shooting a high percentage from the field. With 22 games of EYBL play (including Peach Jam) under his belt, Porter averaged 24 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists while shooting ridiculous splits (59% FG, 84% FT, 35% 3PT) despite facing constant double teams and junk defenses. Tougher than many people give him credit for, Porter has shown an alpha-male mentality at multiple events featuring future pros this spring and summer and he’s unafraid of a big challenge. Porter still has room to improve as a perimeter shooter and he can improve his lateral quickness to help on the defensive end, but he has the look of the next jumbo wing who will come in and have major production at the college level before leaving after a year and becoming a lottery pick.
2. Trae Young, 6’2" PG, MoKan Elite – If Porter was the No. 1 player during the week at Peach Jam, then his 6-foot-2 running mate, Young, is No. 1A. After some cold perimeter shooting during the spring in the EYBL (30 percent), Young was scorching hot during the week at Peach Jam as he connected on 47 percent of his three-pointers with many of them coming from beyond NBA range on pull-ups. A top-five scorer and distributor during the regular season in the EYBL this spring, Young improved his efficiency in multiple facets of the game as he scored from all over and got easy buckets for his teammates. Since Young can keep a defense honest with his perimeter jumper, he can also break some guys off the dribble and he’s crafy as a finisher around the basket. Young isn’t elite as a vertical athlete, but he’s improving at finishing over length and making better decisions as a passer when he dribbles into traffic in the lane. If Young continues to shoot (and play) like this, he’ll be one of the better lead guard prospects in a weak class and his deep perimeter shooting makes him particularly interesting to keep an eye on.
3. Deandre Ayton, 7’0" C, California Supreme – Arguably the top prospect in the Class of 2017, the skilled and athletic 7 footer had the type of week that we’ve been waiting to see out of him at Peach Jam. Playing in some high-profile matchups against Marvin Bagley, Mitchell Robinson and Wendell Carter, Ayton got the best of all three five-star big men while also leading his team to wins. Even though California Supreme was playing without five-star center Brandon McCoy, Ayton helped his team reach the final four when not many expected that kind of run. At times in his career, Ayton has looked bored and not been fully engaged, but that wasn’t the case at Peach Jam. Ayton scored from multiple levels on the floor, rebounded above rim level against great competition and also walled up as a post defender when challenged on the interior. Question marks still remain with Ayton with regards to his motor and his willingness to protect the rim, but he has the kind of size, athleticism and touch that are remarkably rare in a high school big man. If he figures it all out, Ayton has a chance to be a star.
4. Quade Green, 6’0" PG, PSA Cardinals – This spring was a very good one for the Philadelphia native as he’s proven to be one of the most effective floor leaders in all of high school basketball. Those great spring performances continued in the Peach Jam as Green was able to run his team’s offense and give them easy looks while also scoring for himself in an efficient way. With a nearly 4-for-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, Green doesn’t waste possessions as he’s usually putting someone in position to take a good shot while running offense. Green can also effectively dribble through traps and double teams and he’s very good at making quick decisions in pressure spots. Green’s size and lack of top-shelf vertical athleticism lead to some concerns about playing at the highest level, but he’s a tough point guard who makes others better and is steady with the ball.
5. Mitchell Robinson, 7’0" C, Proskills Elite – One of the revelations of Peach Jam was seeing the lightbulb continue to go on for this ultra-athletic 7-footer. A native of Louisiana who is committed to Western Kentucky and new head coach Rick Stansbury, Robinson made a splash in the EYBL this spring by leading the league in blocked shots and forcing his way into the top-10 discussion. With his play in some high-profile matchups at Peach Jam, Robinson might have forced his way into a top-5 discussion because he’s very athletic to go along with improving production. At Peach Jam, Robinson averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game as he showed that he had the best shot-blocking instincts in the class while also pulling down a lot of offensive rebounds. He’s so fast end-to-end and so quick off the floor as a leaper that Robinson makes multiple "wow" plays every game as he’s still trying to figure out the game. Offensively, Robinson is very raw, but he has a lot of impressive tools to work with and he looks to be oozing with upside. It’ll be fascinating to watch Robinson once his basketball IQ and confidence continue to increase.
6. Hamidou Diallo, 6’5" SG, The Rens – His team was eliminated before quarterfinal play, but the freakishly athletic shooting guard still made a huge impression on the Peach Jam by scoring in a variety of ways and also rebounding well from the guard spot. Putting up 21.5 points per game in North Augusta, Diallo plays well above the rim and that elite leaping ability means that he can finish over defenders while also being a threat as an offensive rebounder. Although his perimeter jumper needs to become more consistent, Diallo continues to make strides in that category as his shot looks workable and is starting to drop at a more efficient clip. Defensively, Diallo covers so much ground laterally because of his quickness that he’s a very good trap defender and he’s starting to take fewer gambles in passing lanes that lead to lapses on that end. If Diallo can continue to improve his skill level then he’ll be a prospect to watch for the highest level because there aren’t many two guards who can elevate and finish like he can.
7. Chaundee Brown, 6’5" SF, Nike South Beach – Although Brown’s Nike South Beach team looked overmatched at Peach Jam, that was certainly no fault of the fast-rising 6’5" small forward. Ruthlessly efficient during the Peach Jam, Brown put up 22 points and 6 rebounds per game while putting up very good shooting splits (53% FG, 46% 3PT, 89% FT). With good size, strength and athleticism, Brown earned an offer from Kansas during Peach Jam and he had the type of week where his recruitment could see a spike from the blueblood programs. With an ability to score in multiple ways from multiple spots on the floor, it’ll be interesting to see if Brown can sustain this kind of production throughout July and how he’ll play with the spotlight on him.
8. Nick Richards, 6’10" C, Expessions Elite – Always an intriguing prospect because of his size and mobility, Richards put together a very good Peach Jam and looked like the five-star prospect we’ve been waiting to see. The Class of 2017 has a lot of talented big men near the top and Richards slipped a bit in the rankings in the past few years because of a questionable motor, but Richards looked very motivated at Peach Jam and he was a major factor on the defensive end. Averaging 13 points, 13 rebounds and almost two blocks a game, Richards did a nice job of matching up with some of the best big men in the country and holding his own, especially as a rim protector. On offense, Richards is still a work-in-progress, but he has some positive signs with his footwork and it’s commendable that he doesn’t try to force too many things outside of his comfort zone. If Richards keeps the motor running like this and continues to increase his skill level, then he’s very intriguing because he’s around 6’11" with a nearly 7’2" wingspan and a frame that can add strength.
9. Brian Bowen, 6’7" WG, Meanstreets – Overall it was a very solid Peach Jam from the 6-foot-7 wing guard from Michigan as Bowen showed a lot of versatility from the perimeter. Bowen’s Meanstreets team had a very good week and part of the reason was that he got a lot done on both ends of the floor. Frequently scoring over 20 points for his team during Peach Jam, it was also a pleasant surprise to see Bowen have multiple games in which he finished with double-figure rebounds. Perimeter shooting was a bit inconsistent for Bowen during Peach Jam and he’ll have to do a better job of being efficient when he takes perimeter looks. Also a solid passer from the wing, Bowen can contribute as a secondary handler if the defense applies pressure and he’s capable of scoring when he attacks the basket. Adding strength will be a factor for Bowen going forward, since he weighs around 190 pounds at 6’7" but he knows how to play the game and should have a chance to have a good college career before taking a crack at the highest level.
10. PJ Washington, 6’7" F, Team Penny – Regarded as a high-end prospect since he was playing up on the 17U level as a rising freshman, the Texas native had a strong showing at the Peach Jam. The Class of 2017 five-star prospect is a tad undersized at the forward, but he makes up for it with explosive leaping ability, good strength and a lot of toughness on the interior. Washington isn’t afraid to play bigger competition in the post and he’s also improving his skill level to be able to handle the ball a bit on the perimeter. Deep perimeter shooting is still a question mark for Washington going forward, but he’s looking more comfortable taking threes than he did in the spring and he has a workable jumper. With basketball embracing smaller forwards who are athletic and skilled, Washington could be an intriguing prospect at the highest level if he improves his perimeter jumper. Washington’s 7’2.5" wingspan that was measured at USA Basketball in June will certainly help as well.