For the opening week on the NCAA live period Michigan kids that play for Nike teams headed south to North Augusta, South Carolina. EYBL teams that qualified had the opportunity to play in the nation’s most prestigious tournament, the Peach Jam. While the rest of the EYBL teams played in the Peach Invitational Tournament (PIT).
The Family 15’s put Michigan back on the map by winning the 15u Peach Jam, but the fashion in which they did it made their run so special. From day 1 whispers were being passed around on how good them boys from Michigan looked. They dominated the field and went 5-0, with winning by an average margin of 14 points, including a 20 point win in the Championship game.
The Family 15’s weren’t the only team with Michigan bodies that found some success. Spiece made a run all the way to the championship game of the PIT (EYBL) division, where they lost by two points to the Southern Stampede.
The Family 16s also had a strong showing by winning their pool and advancing to the round of eight before falling by two points to Team Final.
Below is a list of some of our Michigan kids who stood out in N. Augusta:
Maliq Carr, 6-6, The Family 15’s- every successful team has an enforcer, a so called “tough guy” whether it is Draymond Green for Golden State or Dennis Rodman back in the day. Somebody who isn’t afraid to do the dirty work, but actually has fun doing it. You get the picture on the type of weekend Carr had at the Peach Jam. Carr spent his time in N. Augusta just physically beating up opposing players 2-3 inches taller than him. He had 3 games where he reached double digit rebounds. Carr’s play may not standout on a stat sheet but he was key in bringing home the Peach Jam Title.
Jaden Hardy, 6-3, The Family 15’s- Hardy has stamped himself as a top 20 player for the 2021 class. He makes a living off his jump shot and has remarkable range for an incoming freshman. During the tourney run he made some big shots from his team including 4/8 3pointers vs PSA Cardinals in the Final 4 to open up a tight game. Good size, strong handles, athletic, has a chance to be special!
Isaiah Jackson, 6-8, The Family 15s- His upside has no limit as Jackson will continue to get stronger over the next 3 years of high school. He already has high major written all over his game. At the Jam Jackson was able to make a mismatch out of guys an inch taller and 50 pounds heavier by bringing them outside and shooting over them. On the other end he used his never ending arms to make up for what he gave up in weight. He averaged 6 blocks a game but probably altered at least a dozen more per contest. A true rim protector!
Brandon Johns, 6-8, Spiece 17s- in a line-up with plenty of size Johns flourishes with the freedom to step out and play some wing. He is calm and under control with the ball on the perimeter, and constantly made the right play at the PIT. He still enjoys mixing it up inside and averaged a double-double all weekend while Spiece made a run to the PIT Finals. Michigan seems to be the perfect fit for Johns as he fit in Beilein’s system perfectly.
Scooby Johnson, 6-6, The Family 15’s- another player who has his biggest games on the biggest stages. Scooby just knows basketball and knows how to fill a stat sheet. He averaged a double-double at the Jam and led his team in rebounding averaging 12.5 a game, including an 18 board effort in the Final 4. He plays with a great blend of skill and toughness, and is one of the team’s strongest ball handlers under pressure. In the Final 4 he showed his ability to be clutch by being fouled during an iso play and sinking the game winning free throws with 0.7 on the clock.
Foster Loyer, 6-0, All-Ohio Red 17’s- Last year on this stage Loyer led AOR to the Peach Jam 16u Championship. While this year’s run wasn’t as memorable, Loyer’s play still stood out as one of the nation’s top floor generals. Loyer never seems rattled and makes the right decision 99% of the time. He averaged 14.4 points and 6 assist at the Jam while shooting above 40%.
Jacob Polakovich, 6-8, Spiece 17’s- Polakovich is on a team full of 6-8 bodies, the difference is the rest of the crew prefers to face-up. Polakovich’s play allows them to do just that as he holds it down inside. He plays with a mean streak and loves to get physical fighting for position and chasing down rebounds. He always seemed to defend the other team’s biggest threat inside.
Kevin-David Rice, 6-3, Family 15s- The starting 2-guard for the Peach Jam Champs did a fantastic job finishing at rim. He’s another big wing with a good frame and size. The Goodrich standout has a great feel for the game. He knows how to move without the ball, coming off screens, and finding the open spot. He has plenty of tricks in his bag- he is a high percentage shooter, and flourishes with his mid-range game. Was solid defensively defending his man, his defensive assignment was never a problem for The Family.
Ernest Sanders, 6-3, The Family 15’s- Mr. Showtime definitely earned his nickname down at the Jam. While it’s no doubt that he may be the most exciting player in Michigan’s 2020 class, the electrifying wing showed that he may just be the most exciting player in the country for 2020. Very few players in the 15u Jam showed they got the type of bounce that Sanders has. In transition he runs the floor like a horse at the Kentucky derby. His engine is always ready to go from the opening tip, and each game he was the one to start putting points on the board for the Family. In three games he scored six of The Family’s first 8 points.
Jalen Terry, 6-0, The Family 15’s- the Beecher PG has put his stamp as the top point man in Michigan, and his body of work at the Jam has made the case that Terry is the top point guard in the country. Whenever the pressure got tight for The Family, Terry simply put the ball in his hands and calmed everything down. He made it look easy running the offense, tossing assist after assist, then knowing when it was time to rack up points. He shot above 50% for the tourney. He has his biggest games on the biggest stage, evident from a 28 point outing in the Championship where he just took it to both of the Arkansas Wings nationally ranked guards.
Duane Washington Jr., 6-3, The Family 17’s- No player in Michigan has had a hotter AAU season than The Family’s lead guard. He turned heads sharing the backcourt with David DeJulius in the spring, but as The Family’s main attraction he did not disappoint. College coaches saw what they were waiting to see and since returning from N. Augusta the high major offers have rolled in. He quickly opened pool play with a 28 point performance and stayed above 18 points each contest.
Rocket Watts, 6-2, The Family 17’s- Watts made the transition from 16u to 17’s for the month of July and played with the confidence needed to be successful. Rocket has the reputation as a pure scorer that can fill it up in bunches- he showcased that skill in the PIT, but what made his play special was that he showcased the ability to be a complete player. He took pride in his man on man defense, constantly calling out the other team’s best guard. He turned into a playmaker at times and made some nice passes helping his teammates get off. The jump from 16s to 17s was no problem for the 2019 combo guard.
Romeo Weems, 6-6, The Family 16s- at times Weems has a lot on his shoulders with the work load he carries for his Family team, but he constantly delivers. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it….Romeo is the toughest player in America! He destroys EYBL teams game after game with pure toughness. He rebounds, defends, and always comes up with the much needed bucket when it is time. No official stats on Weems at the PIT, but he clearly flirted with triple-doubles every game as The Family went 4-1 before falling in the quarters to Team Final by 2.