Wings Hoping to Defend Nike Peach Jam 16 Title

Arkansas Baptist sophomore center Connor Vanover (7-3, 172) and El Dorado junior power forward Daniel Gafford (6-10, 193) head up an Arkansas Wings' 16-and-under squad hoping to 3-peat as champions at the Nike Peach Jam, which opens Wednesday in North Augusta, S.C.

The Arkansas Wings’ 16-and-under AAU basketball team will be trying to go for a 3-peat at the Nike Peach Jam starting on Wednesday.

  The Wings are led by 7-3, 172-pound Arkansas Baptist sophomore center Connor Vanover and 6-10, 193-pound El Dorado junior power forward Daniel Gafford.

They will begin their quest to defend their 2013 and 2014 titles with a Wednesday game at 5 p.m. against Team CP3 at the Riverview Parks Activity Center.

“We have been in five tournaments and won three of them so we feel pretty good about how we have played,” Wings head coach Raymond Cooper said. “Our team has really improved as we have gone through the season and I think we feel really good about our opportunity to go down there and do really well.

“The 16-and-under league is based on points and we led the league until the last event when the Georgia Stars went ahead of us.”

  Vanover recently got his first scholarship offer from Ole Miss and is getting recruiting attention from Arkansas and a host of other schools.

  “Connor has really come a long way as he gets more comfortable with his all-around game and he certainly has a lot of people paying attention to see what type of player he is going to turn into.

  “He is doing the little things better and also getting stronger and better able to do things on the floor.”

  Cooper notes Gafford was recently offered by Virginia Tech and has numerous schools following him along with the Razorbacks.

  “Gafford has so much upside and he really turn some heads this spring and I would say there have been about 15 schools that have called about him and are showing interest now.

  “I think there will only be more after he plays the rest of this summer. He is really coming on and has gotten a lot stronger. He is a wiry strong type of guy.”

  Another couple of players that have flourished for the Wings are Clarksville junior guard Casey Benton (6-3, 163) and Little Rock Mills junior Jeremiah Toney (6-5, 175).

“He has just had a great spring and summer for us,” Cooper said. “He is a guy that is a combo guard, playing the shooting guard for us now, but will likely play the point in college. We got a call from North Carolina about him the other day and I think his recruiting is about to take off.

“Jeremiah Toney has also had a very good season for us and is a guy that is really shooting the ball well.”

  Cooper feels like the Wings, Georgia Stars, Each 1 Teach 1 and We Can All Go are the favorites to win the 16-team event.

“All those teams are going to be right there and all have an excellent shot to win it,” Cooper said. “I feel like we have a really good shot.”

Connor Vanover

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