Our Friday coverage began at a new stop for Peegs.com, the adidas Gauntlet Final in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
The main attraction for us and big name schools was top five rising junior Romeo Langford. The New Albany wing plays for the Eric Gordon All-Stars and in a round of 16 morning game he had 14 points to lead his team to an easy win. Indiana assistant Rob Judson was in attendance. John Calipari was the most notable head coach courtside.
Judson also spent time in the next time slot watching Robert Phinisee, another 2018 guard who led his team to the Class 4A state final.
Despite a big game from Phinisee and a huge comeback to force overtime, his Indiana Elite team fell to Team Loaded Virginia in the 16u round of 16.
Phinisee and company did bounce back in the consolation bracket to knock off a Wisconsin Playground Warriors team that features another Indiana 2018 target, 6-foot-4 guard Tyler Herro. Judson was also at that game.
As far as how the McCutcheon player looked, the 6-foot-0 Phinisee looked thicker and a tad quicker than he did in the high school season. He knocked down at least three long jumpers, a real positive as a consistent jumper may be his missing ingredient.
Hoosier head coach Tom Crean made it to Spartanburg in time to catch Romeo Langford’s 17U quarterfinal game against Mass Rivals. Noah Vonleh’s former team features a top 40 ranked senior in Makai Ashton-Langford and a bigger, more athletic frontline. That helped Mass Rivals dominate the boards in a 69-53 win. Romeo Langford did his part offensively, scoring 25 points on 8-for-14 shooting.
Crean was joined by assistant Rob Judson at the game. Steve Alford and John Calipari were among the coaches watching this quarterfinal.
Langford’s recruiting is in its early stages with most of the speculation on nearby schools Louisville, Indiana and Kentucky along with the Duke Blue Devils. He’s currently the No. 3 overall player in the class.
Crean and Judson also stayed to watch D1 Minnesota face the Compton Magic on the same court. Goanar Mar of D1 has been listed in the past with Indiana and Jericho Sims is a hot power forward target from that team.
One other player under the Hoosier watch in Spartanburg was Mississippi four-star Nick Weatherspoon. In front of a large group of coaches in a late morning game, the 6-foot-2 guard exploded for 32 points, seven boards and four assists in a win over Dream Vision.
Nike EYBL Finals/Peach Jam
Indiana assistants Chuck Martin and Tim Buckley were in the Augusta area for this event and for the nearby Peach Invitational. In the morning they caught Jordan Tucker and Hamidou Diallo of the NY Rens team and later were able to be there for Boo Williams point guard Matt Coleman.
Peegs.com spoke to Coleman on Friday and he spoke about a long stretch coming up that includes the USA Basketball training in Houston and games overseas. He said he's going to use some of the downtime overseas to evaluate schools recruiting him. Early chatter has Texas and Indiana among the leaders.
The Hoosiers staff stayed on the Al Durham Jr. watch in Augusta. Here are some of our notes from his afternoon game.
-had four really strong takes to the basket during a key stretch in the second half, scoring twice and getting fouled twice.
-His ability to draw contact is one of his major assets at this stage of his development.
-He defended really well in the two games we have seen so far.
-He is really long and uses his length but also moved his feet and doesn't rely on his length.
-He’s still working on his 3-point shot.
Tim Buckley once again caught Illinois rising senior Justin Smith at the Peach Invitational. The 6-foot-7 forward later told us that he now plans to cut his list in July instead of August, possibly after the second live period that ends next weekend.
Look for the Hoosiers to make that cut barring a last second surprise.
Smith scored a team-high 23 points on 9-13 from the field, including 3-6 from the arc, for Mac Irvin Fire.
Also at the Peach Invitational Trendon Watford had 16 points for Alabama Challenge, which beat Mac Irvin Fire 75-69.
Watford shot 3-5 from the arc and 3-5 from 2.
Watford has some really nice moves on the dribble for a 2019 player.
Another thing that stands out is he has such a mature feel for the game, doesn't get rushed, doesn't take bad shots. He passed up some shots early in the shot clock to let his team work to get a better shot.
Earlier in the day he had 30 points and 12 rebounds for his Alabama Challenge team.
That's 46-points in the past two games for Watford while playing two years up against Nike EYBL competition.
In the afternoon assistant Chuck Martin watched Nike South Beach vs. the NJ Playaz.
South Beach has a player that could emerge for Indiana and other elite schools in 6-foot-5 shooting guard Chaundee Brown. He’s an excellent shooter, especially off the bounce, and has good change of speed and change of direction. Brown kept South Beach in the game vs PSA Cardinals when 7-1 Zach Brown got in foul trouble.
In the evening session Al Durham Jr. had perhaps his best game of the month. He scored a team-high tying 20 points to go with seven rebounds, four assists and one turnover. He shot 8-for-12 from 2 and 0-for-2 from the arc.
-He was very good driving the ball, using change of direction and quickness to finish and draw fouls.
-His 3-point shot is still a work in progress and he knows that.
-He was impressive defensively. I like how he moves his feet and doesn't reach, which some perimeter guys with length tend to do.
-He also went inside and got some rebounds in congestion. He gets off the floor well and used that and his length to be a factor on the boards.
-His seven rebounds tied for the second most in the game. Southern Stampede's center had 10.
Early evening games at the Peach Jam had Chuck Martin focusing on a game involving Andrew Platek (NY) and Tim Buckley following big man Luka Garza (DC). Highly ranked Michigan forward Brian Bowen was another 2017 prospect to get the assistant’s eye on Friday night.
Tom Crean, Martin and Buckley all were in the gym during warmups for the PSA Cardinals late night game. Mohamed Bamba, Brandon Randolph and Deng Gak are all hot targets right now for the Hoosier staff.
All three coaches also spent time in the gym where 2018 point guard target Darius Garland was playing with his St. Louis Eagles squad.
Play resumes about 12-noon on Saturday at the Peach Jam with four quarterfinal match-ups. One is of Indiana interest as big man Nick Richards and his Expressions Elite team will battle the huge PSA Cardinals frontline of Mohamed Bamba and Deng Gak.
Complete quarterfinal game schedule:
PSA Cardinals vs. Expressions Elite
California Supreme vs. Team CP3
The Rens vs. Team Penny
MoKan Elite vs. Meanstreets