Phog's Early Peach Jam Report

Ben McLemore

The Nike Elite Youth Basketball League may be coming to a close for the summer, but it's certainly going out in style.

A flood of coaches from every Division One college basketball program in the country took advantage of the July evaluation period and packed the Riverview Park Activities Center in North Augusta, S.C. Monday morning, for the EYBL's championship event – the Peach Jam.

A number of prospects targeted by Head Coach Bill Self and his coaching staff at the University of Kansas were in attendance, and Phog.net was on hand to take in the action during the day's first session.

Josiah Turner – PG – Class of 2011 – Drew Gooden Soldiers

Turner has seen his ranking skyrocket of late, thanks to his strong play on the camp circuit and throughout the EYBL season. Though it was our first chance to see the 6-foot-2 combo guard in person, it's easy to see what all the hoopla is about.

In the first tilt of the day against a talented and athletic Alabama Challenge squad, Turner dominated the action on both ends of the floor. He's a natural defender, showing an ability to fight through and around screens at the top of the key in order to stick to his man, and possessed of the lateral quickness to keep opponents in front of him at all times.

Offensively, Turner was the soul of efficiency, tallying 17 points on 6-8 shooting; a barrage that included everything from jumpers to driving layups. Also dishing out five assists and snagging five rebounds, he managed to make an impact in every facet of the game.

Jabari Brown – SG – Class of 2011 – Drew Gooden Soldiers

Josiah Turner is far from the only high-major prospect on his team. The Soldiers are, to put it mildly, absolutely loaded, and contributing significantly to that talent pool is Jabari Brown.

Looking every bit of 6-foot-5 inches tall, Brown has earned a reputation this summer as arguably the best shooter in the country. And though it took him a half to get going, the big guard eventually showed exactly why that reputation is well deserved.

If he gets the chance to set his feet, Brown is virtually automatic from anywhere on the floor. By the time the final horn sounded he had tallied 21 points on 7-12 shooting, including a handful of deep threes. While perhaps not as polished on the defensive end as his Turner, Brown is aggressive – sometimes too much so, depending on how closely the game is being called – and shows a real desire to lock his man down.

Ben McLemore – SG – Class of 2011 – St. Louis Eagles

McLemore is a player who needs no introduction to any Kansas fan who follows recruiting in the slightest.

Since making the transition fro post player to guard during his junior season at Wellston (MO) Eskridge High School, the 6-foot-5 athlete has cemented himself as one of the most talented prospects in the country – going from unknown to star almost overnight.

This summer, McLemore has done his damage with the St. Louis Eagles, one of the most prestigious and well-coached programs in the Midwest. In addition to McLemore, the Eagles boast one of the most talented backcourts in the EYBL, thanks to the presence of Florida-bound shooting guard Brad Beal and Butler-bound small forward Roosevelt Jones.

Without Beal's talents to aid them Monday morning – he won't arrive until Tuesday from his stint in Germany with the USA U-17 squad – the Eagles didn't miss a beat against the All-Ohio Red, thanks in large part to a bona-fide scoring explosion from McLemore.

The ultra-athletic guard turned in a 30-plus point performance, including a barrage when he connected on four three pointers in a row (five total on the evening). Capable of causing seismic shifts in momentum for the Eagles with his talents, he also hammered in a thunderous two-handed dunk in transition that had the dual effect of igniting the crowd and crushing an All-Ohio rally in the second half.

If McLemore can string together several of these performances in a row, when Beal returns the Eagles could be virtually unbeatable.

Sam Thompson – SF – Class of 2011 – Mac Irvin Fire

After missing most of his junior season at Chicago's Whitney Young High School with an ankle injury, Thompson has slowly worked his way into form this summer. If his Monday morning performance is any indication, it's safe to say he's back.

Uniquely multi-talented for a small forward, Thompson ran the point for much of the Fire's physical, high-intensity battle with a gritty Athletes First team – a role he has settled into comfortably during the course of the summer.

Displaying a knack for finding the open man, Thompson isn't a flashy passer, but rather an efficient one. He spots cracks in opposing zones almost before they appear, and set up the Fire's post players in scoring position time and time again.

Additionally, Thompson is an extremely intelligent player when attacking the basket. Rather than get caught up in the emotions of a heated contest and crash through to the hoop, he pulled up for several mid-range jumpers and canned at least one deep three.

His calling card, however, is his athleticism, which is off-the-charts, and he treated the crowd to a couple of highlight-reel plays, including a spectacular one-handed dunk in transition, over the top of an Athletes First defender who tried to contest the dunk at the rim.

Thompson is an extremely intriguing prospect with the Jayhawks in his top 5. Though they have yet to extend a scholarship offer, the Kansas coaches are keeping an eye on him.

Extra tidbits: The Jayhawks have two staff members present at the event, Self and assistant coach Joe Dooley. Both arrived at the complex bright and early to keep eyes on all four of the above prospects.

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