NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Many of the college coaches that attended the Under Armour Finals the past couple days made the trip out to North Augusta, S.C. on Friday to see the Nike EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam. Rivals.com did the same, and it was well worth it. Friday's action was full of close games and strong performances from highly rated recruits.
Big game Blakeney
E1T1 boasts one of the better rosters in the EYBL from a talent perspective. While LSU commit Ben Simmons is currently ranked the highest of the bunch, it was fellow five-star prospect Antonio Blakeney that led the way in a Friday morning win over Athletes First.
Blakeney, who is now a legitimate 6-foot-4, got rolling early and never really let up. He finished with a game-high 26 points, with a good chunk of it coming in the first half. It wasn't necessarily the amount of points he had that was most impressive. It's how he got them. Many of his points came off contested jumpers where defenders just don't get quite as high as he gets on his release. For that reason, Blakeney's game will likely translate to the college level pretty easily.
Simmons quietly put in a nice effort, chipping in 23 points. It wasn't a great shooting game from the perimeter for the future Tiger, but when he puts his head down and decides to attack the rim, he's tough to defend. In a losing effort, five-star shooting guard Allonzo Trier dropped 24 points despite facing double teams most of the night.
Robinson on a roll
Georgia Stars guard Brandon Robinson came into the Peach Jam with a number of high-major programs keeping tabs on him, hoping he gives them a reason to offer a scholarship. With his play on Thursday and Friday, it appears as if he's doing just that.
In Friday afternoon's overtime win over the Arkansas Wings, Robinson made a number of crucial plays down the stretch to help the Georgia Stars pull out the win that enabled them to win their pool. Usually a player that lets the game come to him and doesn't force the action, the 6-foot-5 guard forced the action more and it worked out for the best. He finished with around 20 points on a combination of perimeter jumpers and drives to the basket. He's also the primary ball-handler for the Stars and does a more than respectable job in that role.
With about four minutes to play, the Travelers held a double-digit lead on Houston Hoops. Slowly but surely, Houston Hoops scrapped their way back into the game and cut it down to four with less than 10 seconds left.
That's when all the drama started. With 2.8 seconds left, Houston Hoops connected on a three to pull within one. On the ensuing in-bound, the pass was deflected and ended up in the hands of a Houston Hoops guard, who then chucked up a prayer at the buzzer from 3-point range for the win.
Despite the loss, Travelers guard and Vanderbilt commit Camron Justice played very well in front his future coach Kevin Stallings. The three-star prospect pumped in 21 points on 6-for-9 shooting, including 3-for=5 beyond the arc.
For Houston Hoops, 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt showed the top programs all over the country are already trying to position themselves to sign him two years from now. The 6-foot-7 prospect tallied a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Scott Drew, Mike Brey, Danny Manning, Tim Miles, Billy Kennedy, Dana Altman, Fran McCaffery and Lon Kruger were among the many coaches in attendance.
News and notes
Arkansas Wings guard Malik Monk had the gym buzzing with his 40-point performance against Team Penny. He's an elite athlete that gets to the rim whenever he wants and a quicker trigger from deep. He should be in the conversation when discussing the best prospects in the 2016 class.
CIA Bounce guard Jamal Murray is making a case for being considered one of the better scoring guards in the 2016 class. He's a tough shot-maker and can score at all three levels. At 6-foot-4, he's also got some combo guard potential down the road.
Team Scan guard Tyus Battle found his perimeter stroke early and often in a win over Boo Williams. Within minutes of the start of the game, the 6-foot-5 wing already had eight points on a pair of threes before finishing with 17 points.
Shake Milton made clutch plays down the stretch for Mokan Elite in a last-minute win over All-Ohio Red. With his team down 40-38, Milton scored eight straight points to seal the 46-40 win. The 6-foot-5 combo guard had Baylor's Drew eyeing him, along with assistants from Indiana, Oklahoma State and others.