07.15.19 | News
2019 Peach Jam
Youth basketball’s signature summer event once more took on the cool look of its best winter showcase. The Peach Jam is to summer basketball what the Culligan City of Palms Classic is in the winter — showtime at an elite level for the prospects most tempting to college coaches. This year’s thrilling Peach Jam ended with an overtime victory for Missouri-based Mokan Elite over California’s Team Why Not in the championship game, but arguably the most compelling encounter took place in the quarterfinals.
That’s where the AOT Running Rebels, stocked with several key players from 2018 Culligan City of Palms Classic winner McEachern (Powder Springs, Georgia), went up against Boo Williams, which boasts a phalanx of stars including City of Palms alum Cameron Thomas of Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Virginia). Thomas, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard, overcame a cold shooting performance from behind the arc and took his game inside, scoring 10 of his 26 points at the free-throw line.
Teammate Zion Harmon had the toughest assignment, and though he scored 26 points of his own, he couldn’t hold down opposing point guard Sharife Cooper, who pumped in 31 points and dished out 11 assists to lead AOT. But aside from B.J. Boston and his game-leading 32, no one else on AOT scored in double figures, and Boo Williams came through late in overtime to secure a 93-91 victory.
It was one last stellar performance on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League circuit for the 6-foot Cooper, who led the Peach Jam in assists per game with 9.8 and was sixth in scoring at 23.0. He’s poised to enter his senior year as one of the most sought-after college recruits in the nation, with Kentucky and Auburn thought to be the leaders in an otherwise wide-open chase.
Thomas, who led the Peach Jam in scoring with a sterling 29.2 points per game, has N.C. State and Connecticut on his heels. Scottie Barnes, a member of the 2017 Culligan City of Palms champion University School team from Fort Lauderdale, also impressed recruiters at the Peach Jam, averaging 20.0 points and 6.2 assists. He announced a list of eight finalists earlier this year: Cal, Duke, Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, Miami (Florida), Ohio State and Oregon.