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July 21, 2012
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- When it comes to top-to-bottom talent and overall competitiveness, there's not a better tournament than the Peach Jam. That was evident again on Friday as the best player in high school basketball, Andrew Wiggins, continued to lead a Canadian assault on U.S. basketball and his CIA Bounce moved to 4-0 in pool play.
BUILT TO LAST
CIA Bounce has the best player in the event in Andrew Wiggins, and through two days of play at the Peach Jam, it has been the best team in the tournament.
Talk to anybody on the team and the fact that they are in the United States representing their home country of Canada is very important to the CIA players. Back home, pride should be running high for a team that has been impressive and for a program that is proving to be built to last.
Of course, it all starts with Wiggins. The 6-foot-7 rising junior has made it quite clear that he's the best player regardless of class. Friday, it was more of the same from him. Dunking his own misses, shooting 3s and stepping up to take the challenge of guarding 2013's No. 2 Julius Randle and causing the 6-foot-9, 240-pounder all types of troubles. He's a stud, but he isn't alone.
The CIA backcourt of Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Tyler Ennis has been impressive as well. The 6-foot-4 Rathan-Mayes is a lights-out shooter from deep with a high-skill level and overall basketball I.Q. Just like Rathan-Mayes, Ennis isn't an extreme athlete, but does his damage thanks to skill and basketball smarts. He finds his open teammates, he hits 3s and he never gets sped up under pressure.
The big three are surrounded by quality role players and there's more talent in the pipeline. Power forward Isaiah Watkins is blue collar and does the little things, guard Tevin Findlay can make plays in transition and 2015 big man Chris Egi is a shot-blocking/rebounding machine with big time athleticism.
Down on the 16 and under level, keep an eye out on 6-foot-2 combo guard Malcolm Duvivier. A strong guard who uses his shoulders to dismiss defenders, Duvivier is also a very good shooter from deep and should combine with Wiggins and Egi to give CIA a great core for next summer.
2013's Aaron Gordon deserves to move up in the rankings. The problem is trying to figure out who to move him past, because the guys ahead of him are killers, too. He's always been a jaw-dropping athlete, but Gordon has taken the rest of his game to a new level while appearing to grow to a legitimate 6-foot-8. Also, keep in mind that the five-star from San Jose (Calif.) Mitty is still only 16 years old and won't turn 17 until late September.
It wasn't the best two days for Boo Williams as a program, but give credit to Troy Williams for elevating the level of his play in North Augusta. The 6-foot-6 wing got back to what makes him effective by focusing his efforts on attacking the rim and only taking wide open jump shots. Louisville and Alabama both appear to be making moves with him.
A high-level rebounder and shot-blocker, Kingsley has improved dramatically on the offensive end and has turned into more than just an energy guy. Look for him to move up from No. 78 in 2013 when rankings get updated.
Somehow, the show 2014 five-star Tyus Jones has put on in North Augusta has gone a bit unnoticed. The Howard Pulley floor general has put together arguably the best two days that Rivals.com has ever seen from a point guard at the Peach Jam. Jones doesn't have near the talent level around him that many other teams do, but he's got them competing and into the quarterfinals because he produced at a ridiculous level. He has racked up more than 25 points and seven assists per game while shooting better than 63 percent from the field.
The Team Takeover duo of Josh Hart and Stanford Robinson is a lot of fun to watch. Not only are they talented, but they are tough as nails and bring the pain in terms playing physically and in your face.