Peach Jam: Thursday's Coverage

NORTH AUGUSTA, S. C. – The 24 finest teams Nike has to offer gathered at the Peach Jam on Thursday. The action was fast-paced and there were a number of top-flight players in action. Here's a look at the first day and how things got started.

2002 Standouts

Bracey Wright, SG, Team Texas Wright scored 23 points in a game against the Tennessee Travelers, but more importantly he got himself going offensively. Though only 8-20 from the field, some of his points came on big-time moves. He displayed the ability to create separation and get the needed space to turn himself into a major scoring threat. He even got himself some buckets off the drive and the two reverse layups he made were among the best moves we've ever seen him connect on.

Matt Walsh, SF/SG, Raleigh Heat In a loss to Athletes First, Walsh dropped in a game-high 27 points. He was especially good in the first half when his stroke was on target. Walsh is a talent. He has the handle to really cause havoc and he'll get himself going on a big scoring run as well. His jumper is unconventional but he's comfortable and confident. He loves the flashy move – probably a byproduct of his days as a PG – and if he would just take the simple route sometimes he'd be even better.

Trading Paint Part I

Kevin Bookout is simply one of the strongest post players in the country. There are some more skilled and even some that are more athletic but maybe no one is stronger. On Thursday, he used that strength to really give the Heat's Michael Thompson a hard time. Bookout positioned himself well in the lane and on more than one occasion was catching entry passes a foot from the hole. Thompson, coming off a sweet week at Nike Camp, didn't have the "A" game this time out. "Boxout" gets the nod in this battle of big men.

Trading Paint Part II

If Bookout vs. Thompson was a win for Athletes First, we'd have to consider the Shelden Williams vs. Shavlik Randolph matchup nearly a draw. Randolph tossed in 20 points and Williams 15. Each had his moments. At times, Williams' strength was a problem for Randolph. In the same token, Williams left some balls on the rim. Randolph connected on same nice post moves and hit a few jumpers, but he still isn't looking like the Shavlik of old and that's probably a result of the injured foot. With a gun to my head, I say Randolph had the slight edge. But, Williams is staying at my hotel a few doors down and I'd like to keep the peace. Let's call this one a battle of two Top Five players and it was as good as a draw. Both threw back some shots as well.

Big Men Trying To Answer Questions

At this point in July, coaches are still trying to find out how good some of the fringe targets are. For instance, there are questions as to the level of play for both TX PF Alou Kane and TN PF Julian Terrell. When Team Texas met the Tennessee Travelers some of those questions were answered. Terrell won the matchup, but it was fairly close. He is a more skilled scorer when matched one-on-one with Kane. Both will reject some shots. Kane scores major points with body type and size, while Terrell appears to be a little more athletic. Both are capable of taking some questionable shots and each can pass the ball some.

As far as level of play. Given all the circumstances and their individual talents, it's conceivable that both of them could wind up at a high-major school, though not at the very highest level. Schools which appeared to be interested in seeing either one or both of them in action on Friday were: Louisiana State, Georgetown, Tennessee, Arkansas, Colorado and Tulane.

Lamptey Still On A Roll

Athletes First center Julius Lamptey is quickly becoming a hot target across the country. While it's a little early to say who is recruiting him, let alone who is in good shape, a few things are becoming quite clear. First, Lamptey is going to have some nice choices provided he's OK academically. Second, his star is on the rise. He's huge and he scores. Lamptey is a kid who brings a tremendous value to a program. He was the key player in a run that helped Athletes First achieve a victory.

Player Progress Reports

Word is that Rashad McCants hit for 31 in a game on Thursday. That's interesting news considering that most of the kids playing in Jam that attended either Nike or adidas looked lethargic today. Not McCants, he was a ball of energy. Maybe, just maybe, he's not human. … Boo Williams lost its first two games and neither John Gilchrist nor JJ Redick for double-figures in the second game. Ouch.

PF Kevin Bookout says he's planning on taking a number of official visits. Bookout, who has serious family ties to Oklahoma, says he will visit UCLA on a track trip. Reportedly, UCLA has a great discus and shot put coach and that's important since Bookout is a future Olympic candidate. He's also interested in Arkansas and of course, the Sooners to name just a few. …

Coast To Coast is without the services of one of its better players. Swingman Sam Barber was kicked off the team prior to the tournament. … TX PG Bryan Hopkins says that he's listening to everyone who is interested in him and has no plans to make a decision anytime soon. Hopkins says he doesn't even have a good school list. However, he would like to remain relatively close to home.

You know that is summer when Arkansas assistant coach Brad Dunn does two trademark things. First, he breaks out the traditional Arkansas T-shirt, the one with a giant Hog logo printed all over it. Then, for the second year in a row, he dons the golf shoes. That's right, Dunn claims that golf shoes are far more comfortable than tennis shoes when spending a day inside the gymnasium. Last year, he and Nolan Richardson wore golf shoes. This year, he's flying solo.

Struggling

Sean May reportedly had a huge game but then a so-so effort in his nightcap. He was just 2-7 from the field and 7-9 from the line on his way to 11 points as Bloomington Red lost to Coast To Coast. … Speaking of CTC, their point guard, Julian Richardson, had a horrendous first half but then drilled 4-5 from downtown in the second to help kick start his team. … Athletes First DeAngelo Alexander appears to be in a mini-funk. Don't expect it too last too long. … PF Brad Nuckles of the Tennessee Travelers can't find his shooting touch from deep and that's a problem? Why, well because Nuckles has been spending far more time outside than inside this summer. Combine the shooting struggles with a lack of an inside game and colleges are having a tough time evaluating him in July. …

In The Crowd

Sean May drew coaches from UNC, Kentucky and Indiana. UK and IU sent the head coach. … Kevin Stallings was in attendance to watch his future point guard Mario Moore reel off 16 points. … Mike Davis made sure he was seen at both Wright and May's games. … Herb Sendek and Billy Donovan were there to watch Randolph. UNC sent Doug Wojcik and Duke sent Steve Wojciechowski and Chris Collins. …

Given The OK By Mom

TX SG Bracey Wright said that his mom has given him the OK that he can commit wherever he would like. Basically, Wright now feels like that with mom's blessing, he could end the process soon. He's been told my mom that he can commit after the Peach Jam if that's what he wants to do. Should that happen, Indiana remains the clear favorite to get him. …


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