When perusing the schedule of a tournament as loaded with talent as this year's Peach Jam, a few games inevitably jump off the page.
Late Tuesday night, for example, hundreds of eager spectators – ranging
from talent scouts and college coaches to player's families and casual
fans – crammed into every available inch of Court 1 at the Riveriew
Park Activities Center in North Augusta, S.C.
Why? For the opportunity to see the highly anticipated contest between
Each 1 Teach 1 – featuring 2011 super-recruit Austin Rivers and
backcourt mate Travis Lacey – and Boo Williams – home to the likes of
North Carolina-bound James McAdoo and talented small forward Dorian Finney-Smith.
The Tuesday evening tilt between Mac Irvin Fire and the St. Louis
Eagles was supposed to be one of those buzz-worthy games. The Fire are
loaded with high major prospects, including Wayne Blackshear and Sam Thompson, and have a well-deserved reputation as the embodiment of a
highlight reel. The Eagles, meanwhile, are one of the contenders to
take home the Peach Jam title, complementing disciplined and solid
fundamental basketball with the star power provided by Brad Beal and
It may have started out as a lopsided affair – the Eagles led by almost
20 points at two different intervals, and maintained a commanding
halftime lead – but the intense battle everyone expected to see did
eventually make its way to Court 3. A missed free throw by the Fire's
Sam Thompson was the only thing standing in the way of a tie ball game
with just seconds remaining.
The Eagles eventually prevailed by a score of 75-69, and both teams now
maintain a 3-1 record heading into the conclusion of pool play
Wednesday morning. Phog.net was on hand to take in the action, and
provide an update on the performances of several players noteworthy to
Brad Beal – St. Louis Eagles – SG – Class of 2011
Word was that Beal had a rough go of it in the morning session, which
is entirely understandable. He and several other top prospects at the
event made their way to North Augusta immediately after arriving home
from international competition with the USA U-17 squad.
Whatever it was – be it tired legs or simple jet lag – it was gone by
Tuesday evening. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard opened play by canning a
deep two pointer with a Fire defender practically tucked inside his
jersey, and he never looked back.
The Eagles are simply a different team with him on the floor, which is
to be expected of a consensus top five prospect. His length, physical
strength and competitive spirit make him an elite level defender when
he wants to be, and his offensive game is as complete as any in the
class. A deadly shooter from deep, rivaled in 2011 perhaps only by
Oakland Soldiers shooting guard Jabari Brown, Beal is also capable of
putting it on the deck and driving to the basket, hitting mid-range
jumpers and creating for himself when the situation demands it. An
excellent free-throw shooter, he also hit 11 of 12 attempts on the
night, en route to a 25 point evening.
It's hard to find complaint with such a performance, but if forced to
do so one would have to point to his on-the-court demeanor. Competitive
in the extreme, Beal is prone to trash-talking at times, and Tuesday it
got a little out of hand. To be fair, when one carries the notoriety
Beal does, everyone wants a piece of him – even opposing coaches,
He's simply a game changing player, and with him on the floor the
Eagles remain one of the favorites to play for the 2010 EYBL
Championship on Thursday evening.
Ben McLemore – St. Louis Eagles – SG – Class of 2011
Unfortunately, there's little to report on McLemore, as it appears the
Eagles coaches wanted to take the opportunity to impart a few lessons
to their budding star. Every time McLemore made a turnover or committed
a costly mistake, he would find himself back on the bench waiting for
another opportunity to enter the fray.
The official box score tabbed him with six minutes of playing time, in
which he went without a field goal but did connect on 4-4 free throw
This was an off game for McLemore in what has been a solid – and
sometimes spectacular – couple of days. Expect him to return to form
Wednesday, as the stakes are raised with each game.
Sam Thompson – Mac Irvin Fire – SF – Class of 2011
For an indicator of Thompson's importance to the Fire, all one has to
do is take a look at the box score and check out the "minutes played"
column. The 6-foot-6 wing logged 32 minutes versus the Eagles, more
than anyone else on the squad by a fair margin.
Known for his versatility on the offensive end of the floor, in the
team's three previous games – all closely contested affairs – Thompson
provided a steadying influence with his ball handling and precise
However, as was the case with every member of the Fire in their contest
against the Eagles, Tuesday simply wasn't Thompson's night. Going 3-9
from the field and 0-3 from deep, the St. Louis defense harried the
entire Mac Irvin squad into rushed decisions and an almost frantic pace
of play, and Thompson fell victim to it as much as anyone.
Still, as with McLemore, Thompson's play has been outstanding for much
of the first two days of the tournament, and the Fire remain in great
shape to advance beyond pool play and into bracket play Wednesday
Stay tuned to Phog.net for continued reports in the days to come.
Phog Break Down: Fire vs. Eagles
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