2012 Peach Jam qualifiers announced
CIA Bounce, California Supreme headline 24-team field
Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League’s regular season has come and gone, and after four grueling sessions, 24 teams are left standing, ready to battle for a championship at Peach Jam from July 18-21.
The top five teams in each of Nike’s four divisions advance to South Carolina, along with four at-large teams, which were selected primarily based on overall record. Coincidentally, the four at-large teams happened to be the only four non-automatic qualifiers to finish the 20-game schedule with a winning record.
Division A will send only its top five teams to Peach Jam, led by Team United, a surprise club that finished with a 14-6 EYBL record. Oak Hill transfer and shooting guard Sindarius Thornwell led them in scoring, averaging around 16 per game. He has picked up offers from about a dozen schools, including Tennessee and Clemson.
The Arkansas Wings, Team Final, BABC and Wisconsin Playground round out the field from Division A. BABC, who finished fourth in the division at 11-9, began the season ranked near the top of the Five-Star Power Rankings. The trio of Renee Castro, Jaylen Brantley and Wayne Selden carried them this year, but it turns out they missed the services of Nerlens Noel a little more than anticipated. A 4-2 session in Oakland last weekend, however, locked up their trip to Peach Jam.
Division B sends six teams to Peach Jam and Indy Spiece, the first place club, might be the biggest surprise of them all. They’ve played the role of spoiler all year, knocking off Meanstreets, the Oakland Soldiers and Team Takeover along the way.
Team Takeover, Playaz Basketball Club, The Family and MoKan Elite are the other Division B automatic qualifiers, while Bluff City Legends took an at-large bid with a record of 11-9. Led by Juajan Johnson and Nick King, the Legends went 4-2 in Oakland to secure a bid.
Division C might have been the toughest division in EYBL play throughout the four sessions, but in the end, California Supreme and All-Ohio Red separated themselves from the rest to finish in a tie for first. Cali Supreme was paced by Jordan Matthews, while All-Ohio Red relied on the scoring duo of Marc Loving and Zach Denny.
Julius Randle and the Teas Titans came in third in Division C with a 15-5 record, just ahead of CP3 and Mac Irvin Fire, who finished a game behind. Each 1 Teach 1 took the wild card from that division with a 13-7 EYBL mark. E1T1 caught the nation’s attention early when Dakari Johnson and Co. went 4-0 in session one and won their first eight games overall.
If Division C wasn’t the best overall at EYBL, then that title has to go to Division D. Division D sends seven teams to Peach Jam, more than any other group. CIA Bounce, who has spent the last few weeks at No. 1 in the Five-Star Power Rankings, stumbled in Oakland but still finished an astounding 17-3, beating out Meanstreets and Houston Hoops for the division title by two games. Boo Williams and Oakland Soldiers finished in a tie for fourth, but the Oakland Soldiers were shaky at best in the last three sessions without the services of star Aaron Gordon, who was sidelined by a foot injury. ESPN reported last week that he expects to be back by the end of the summer, but it is unclear whether or not he will play in Peach Jam. If he does, the Soldiers can quickly become favorites again.
The two Pool D wild cards are Baltimore Elite and Howard Pulley. Both were inconsistent throughout the four sessions, but will be a welcome addition to the Peach Jam field due to the star power they provide. Baltimore Elite will bring 2013 shooting guard Kameron Williams who consistently put up 20 per game in EYBL play. Howard Pulley, meanwhile, features one of the best players in the entire league in Tyus Jones. The Five-Star Preseason All American can score and distribute, and right now, is probably the best point guard in the class of 2014.
The 24 qualifying teams now have six weeks to prepare for one of the toughest tournaments of the summer. When the dust finally settles in South Carolina on July 21, one club will have earned the distinction of the best Nike team on the circuit. Stay with Five-Star over the next couple months as we bring you all the coverage you’ll need to stay up-to-date with the most exciting time on the travel basketball calendar.