All eyes in the recruiting world were focused on North Augusta, S.C. this past weekend for the Peach Jam. The final stop of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, the Peach Jam featured the top 24 AAU teams in the country, competing to be crowned the nation's best high school basketball team.
With four games being played simultaneously and an abundance of elite high school talent, the event was a college coach's dream. And where there are the nation's top AAU teams, there are Duke targets galore.
The Blue Devils' lone 2014 commit, Grayson Allen, came out on top when his E1T1 Elite squad defeated CP3 108-102 in the Peach Jam championship game. Allen scored 16 points and added five assists, three steals and two blocks in his team's final win against North Carolina commit Theo Pinson. Allen helped lead E1T1 to a perfect 8-0 record for the tournament, averaging 10.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game. After joining the team midway through the year, Allen was often utilized in a bench role for E1T1, but posted big performances on the final day of the Peach Jam, posting his top two scoring performances of the tournament with 15 and 16 points in the semifinals and finals, respectively.
Jahlil Okafor had a chance to show why ESPN has ranked him the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2014, but his Mac Irvin Fire team fell a game short and failed to advance out of pool play. Okafor a 6-foot-11 center from Chicago, averaged 16.8 points and 10.0 rebounds per game for his Mac Irvin Fire squad in five games. After winning its first three contests, Okafor's squad dropped its last two, including a two-point loss to Team Scan to knock them out of contention.
But Okafor's play hasn't just drawn the eye of the top coaches in the college ranks—he's already turning heads among NBA executives according to Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Squaring off with Okafor in pool play was Houston Hoops forward Justise Winslow, who teamed up with Okafor just last week to win a gold medal at the U19 FIBA World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic. Winslow's squad defeated Okafor's Mac Irvin Fire 80-69 during pool play as Winslow scored 19 points and added 10 rebounds and six assists. He did not compete in Houston Hoops' first two games, presumably regrouping after a busy month with the U19 national team. Winslow averaged 18.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.3 steals in four games at the Peach Jam. His team fell to Team Final in the quarterfinals.
Winslow was watched closely by Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and Arizona head coach Sean Miller. The Blue Devils and Wildcats are considered to be the top two programs vying for Winslow's commitment. Associate head coach Jeff Capel and assistant coach Nate James were on hand as well.
After electing to forego the U19 World Championship because of a sick family member, Tyus Jones was back in action at the Peach Jam with his team, Howard Pulley. Jones' squad failed to make it out of pool play, but the top point guard in the Class of 2014 averaged 21.6 points, 7.6 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per contest. Showing off his court vision and agility, Jones even had a writer from USA Today feeling confident about his own basketball skills.
In addition to the top players in the Class of 2014, elite Class of 2015 prospects were on display in North Augusta as well. In the days leading up to the Peach Jam, the Riverview Park Activities Center played host to the Nike Sweet 16 Invitational, a tournament for the country's top players aged 16 and under. Luke Kennard made the semifinals with his King James squad, and his performance was impressive enough to pick up scholarship offers from Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State. Kennard, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Franklin, Ohio, is currently slated as the No. 30 player in the Class of 2015 by ESPN. Other scouting services have Kennard ranked the sharpshooting lefty as one of the class's top shooting guards.
Kennard's offer makes him the third Class of 2015 prospect to receive a scholarship offer from Duke. The first two went to Montverde Academy power forward Ben Simmons and Jackson, Miss. point guard Malik Newman, who is the class's consensus No. 1 overall prospect at this stage.
But the Peach Jam wasn't the only hotspot on the recruiting map this weekend. Hundreds of the nation's top recruits also gathered in Indianapolis for the Adidas Invitational. Duke associate head coach Steve Wojciechowski was on hand in Indianapolis, and Krzyzewski took a break from the Peach Jam to watch power forward Kevon Looney play with the Milwaukee Running Rebels and center Goodluck Okonoboh suit up for Mass Rivals.