PEACH JAM: Morris Shatters Second Backboard

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. --- When Christian Morris shattered the backboard in gymnasium number three at the Riverview Center, it didn't take long for word to spread in the large complex that's hosting the Peach Jam. Players and fans poured into the gym with their cameras to get photos of what was left of the backboard and the glass that was scattered all over the floor.

Morris, who plays for the South Kent School in Connecticut, is originally from The Bronx, New York. He's a 6-8, 245-pounder, just a big kid in a man's body. He will be a junior at South Kent in the fall and plenty of schools are recruiting him hard.

"I've got offers from all the ACC schools except North Carolina and Duke," said Morris while waiting for the game to resume. "All the Big East Schools have offered me. In the SEC, Kentucky and Florida have offered, too."

It wasn't the first time he's shattered a backboard, either.

"I got one in Rucker Park," said the strong man that projects as a power forward at the next level.

Morris is a powerful presence in the paint. He's an exceptional rebounder that understands position well and he has soft, strong hands. He's tough offensively around the basket but he won't hesitate to take open shots from as far out as 12-15 feet.

* * *

Billy Donovan finally arrived at the Peach Jam. He was in New York Wednesday night for the ESPY Awards Show. He was late arriving to the Riverview Center because his flight from New York was delayed a couple of hours before it touched down in Atlanta.

Donovan split time between Team Florida's game in one gym and Patrick Patterson's game for Boo Williams in another gym. In both places, he spent plenty of time signing autographs. He spent time in yet another gym watching James Anderson play for Arkansas Wings.

Asked if things have changed as far as recognition in the last 10 years, Donovan quipped, "Just a little bit. I think a couple more people know who I am now than they did 10 years ago."

* * *

For the second straight session a game was decided by the zebras. With 18.5 seconds remaining in overtime, Tyreke Evans of Philadelphia's Team Final was called for an offensive foul when he swatted away Derrick Rose's hand which was extended in a hand check position. Instead of having to defend the last shot of the game, Chicago's Mean Street Express, beneficiary of what amounted to an 11-point play that was initiated when an official called two technical fouls on Team Florida's Nick Calathes earlier in the day, got the ball at midcourt. Rose dribbled the ball at midcourt, then beat Evans on the dribble, taking the ball all the way to the rack for a game-winning layup as time expired.

"It was a bad call," said Ted Valentine, the SEC's top official who is helping to conduct a camp for officials working Peach Jam. "It's a call that should have never been made. It's a playground move … something you see kids do all the time on the playground and nobody got an advantage from it so it shouldn't have been called."

What upset Valentine the most about the call was that the hand checking had been going on for both sides throughout the game, and there were plenty of times when an offensive player swatted away a defender's hand.

"You don't wait until there are 18 and a half seconds left in a game to make that call," said Valentine. "The official knows he blew it and shouldn't have made the call. He feels really bad about it now."

Mean Streets Express probably would have lost two games on Thursday without the assist from the zebras. Instead of two losses, though, the team that boasts a back court with the number three prospect in the nation in Rose and the number six prospect in Eric Gordon, is in the driver's seat to advance to the playoffs as the winner of its pool. Team Final has a loss but is assured of advancing to the playoffs thanks to its win over Team Florida Wednesday evening.

* * *

Team Florida rode the 1-2 punch of Florida-bound Nick Calathes and Chandler Parsons to take a 90-84 win over The Family, a Detroit-based team that featured more height than any other team in the tournament. Calathes bounced back from the double technical incident in the morning with a 36-point, six-rebound, seven assist game. Parsons, who is leading the tournament in scoring, followed up his 27-point, 11-rebound morning session with 21 points and six rebounds in the evening.

Team Florida will play Alabama Lasers at 10:15 Friday morning.

Parsons continues to rise on the scouting radar of plenty of schools. He will probably get two or three more offers after this weekend. Safe money should be on Arizona State and LSU to land the commitment.

* * *

Patrick Patterson, the nation's number 15 prospect out of Huntington, West Virginia, says that as soon as the camp and AAU tournament season has ended, he will hit the weight room hard. At 6-9 and 235 pounds, Patterson already has a man's body but he says he needs to improve in the strength department.

"I want to get a lot stronger," he said. "Right now I only bench about 250 pounds. I want to get that to at least 300."

Although Patterson hasn't named a favorite or even narrowed down his list of suitors, there is plenty of speculation from the many Division I coaches in attendance that it will be a four-team race among Florida, Kentucky, Wake Forest and Duke. Here is what some coaches are saying:

FLORIDA: "You know that (Joakim) Noah, (Al) Horford and (Corey) Brewer are going to leave for the NBA. He knows he can step in and start from day one if he goes there and the Gators have won a national championship."

KENTUCKY: "Believe me, he's impressed with the thought of playing in front of 24,000 people at Rupp. Nobody else can match Kentucky's fan base."

WAKE FOREST: "They were the ones that recruited him first. Jeff Battle (Wake assistant) was on him before anyone else and I think Patrick feels some loyalty."

DUKE: "They got in it late for him and they have a lot of ground to make up but Coach K probably can make up more ground faster than any other coach."

* * *

Point guard Jai Lucas of Houston Hoops is the son of former NBA star and Maryland All-American John Lucas. Even though he's only 5-9 and skinny, Lucas is cat-quick and an exceptional ball handler who renders the press ineffective. He's got a streaky outside shot.

Kentucky has recently offered a scholarship and the Wildcats are certainly in the mix but his dad says Oklahoma State and LSU are probably the two favorites.

"His brother (John Jr.) was at Oklahoma State and that's a plus," said John Lucas Sr. "He loves John Brady at LSU. He loves it when he feels the love from LSU. Coach Brady was at his game this morning and Jai was really excited about it."

* * *

Tyreke Evans of Team Final is the number one prospect for the recruiting class of 2008. He is a 6-5, 195-pound point guard with excellent three-point range. He has the ability to take over games offensively. He's got North Carolina, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisville, Rutgers, Texas, Virginia and Villanova on his early list.

The number 11 prospect for 2008 is 6-8 guard Devin Ebanks of Queens, NY who plays at The Patterson School in North Carolina. He's an outstanding scorer but he's got the ball handling skills to possibly project as a point guard at the next level. This is an explosive, acrobatic scorer that can drill the outside shot and is quick enough to take just about anyone off the dribble. Florida is one of the many teams on his early list.

Fightin Gators Top Stories