Harrington: Peach Week, Day One

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Three major prep events opened today in a 20-mile radius, and another tipped off within a two-hour drive in Atlanta. While the Peach Jam, Peach State and UA Association finals all will receive coverage from the Scout team, I spent my evening at the Elite Youth Invitational.

Today's slate was limited, with the period for college coaches not opening until late afternoon and thus the action was abbreviated compared to how it will proceed the next several days. Nevertheless, I was able to watch one starring performance and several others that warrant mention.

The EYI only recently became a hot topic. Nike teams that failed to qualify for the Peach Jam instead are competing at the EYI, along with other regional teams to round out the field. Despite the way that sounds, numerous high-majors are taking court at Josey and Laney high schools in Augusta.

2015

Haanif Cheatham, SG, Nike Team Florida — Cheatham (pictured above) might have chosen an ideal team to put on a show, but he already has secured a list of six finalists — Marquette, Florida State, Baylor, Georgia, Georgetown and California — that offer a diverse set of opportunities for the high-major level. Nevertheless, it's safe to say that he didn't harm his status in the eyes of those coaches watching from courtside, thanks to a starring turn in NTF's opening contest. Cheatham utilized his slashing ability and knack for finishing off the backboard to continually score on drives in traffic. He's above-average in terms of quickness, and the southpaw utilizes his left-handedness to his advantage as well. He's also a sharp passer and a good outside shooter who stroked in a few threes. Physically, he has gained needed strength since last summer. Whichever program he chooses, Cheatham will be a prime asset.

Malik Beasley, SG, Georgia Stars — The Stars rumbled over the Southern Stampede and took the air out of that game early, and Beasley's hot start certainly aided the cause. Beasley is a prime athlete who not surprisingly makes the most of his transition opportunities. He has taken hold of the momentum he initiated at the Pangos Camp in June and dragged it into mid-July, continuing to add luster to his reputation in the process. What struck me as different tonight was the rotation and arch on his jump shot. He buried a baseline jumper from 17 feet on the move that looked nearly perfect, then followed that up with a bottoms-up three from deep. If he shoots like that, or can shoot it like that eventually, he could enjoy a very long career in the sport.

Noah Dickerson, C, Georgia Stars — He didn't face a legitimate center defending him, so I don't want to overdo the praise here. But Dickerson exploited a mismatch just the way a big man should, using his powerful body and post scoring tools to make easy baskets off post-ups. He turns well over either shoulder and possesses a nice touch at close-range. He'll never blow anyone away as a leaper, but the former (as of three weeks ago) Georgetown commitment bears the looks of a stalwart collegiate big man.

Luke Maye, PF, Team United — If you were going to sort the nation's prospect by a production/offers ratio, Maye assuredly would rank near the top of that list. His measurables don't pass muster for some high-major programs — his athleticism and reach most frequently draw scrutiny — but he's far more gifted that that one-two critical combo would indicate. He boasts quick, excellent hands to snatch rebounds, makes some of the best outlet passes in all of high school basketball, is a polished interior passer, has pretty good reflexes, and generally owns admirable skill. Maye shoots the ball inconsistently from deep and could undo his most ardent critics by knocking down threes consistently, situating himself into a stretch forward role. But in the meantime, he clearly has worked hard on his post moves and now wheels and deals with lefty hooks. Gradually, he has begun to swing the pendulum in his favor and should accumulate more offers by mid-August.

Simeon Carter, PF, Team United — Carter hasn't blown up the past few months the way some expected, but he'll definitely find a home somewhere on the Division I level. He mostly needs to get stronger and develop an offensive identity, the absence of which currently limits his production. Still, he has good size and length, jumps pretty well and utilizes his reach to snag rebounds on both ends. He isn't going to step into a starting lineup as a freshman, most likely, but don't count him out for a few years from now.

Donovan Franklin, SG, St. Louis Eagles — The regular season didn't provide catapult Franklin into stardom by any means, as it was 2016 stud Jayson Tatum (playing with the 16-unders this week at the Peach Jam) who commanded nearly all of the attention. But Franklin holds some mid-major offers and interest and enjoyed a fine outing on day one. His shot looked tonight from deep despite the fact that his numbers were subpar during the regular EYBL season. He also made some whip smart passes and finished well on the break.

Faces in the Crowd

Between several games and two different sites I missed quite a few, but here's a look at some of the college programs with representatives in the stands: California, Lehigh, Troy, Marquette, Princeton, UNC-Wilmington, Florida State, Michigan, East Tennessee State, Central Florida, Texas Tech, High Point, VCU, Louisiana Tech, North Carolina, Maryland, Tennessee, Texas A&M.


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