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May 31, 2011
Nike wraps third session of EYBL
HARBOR CITY, Calif. - The dust has settled and after three days of action at the EYBL's third and final qualifying session, the 24 combatants for the Peach Jam are set.
While the Tennessee Travelers weren't able to secure one of those spots, the play of shooting guard Darryl Hicks helped them go home winners, as the rising junior was one of Monday's standouts.
Monday notables at EYBL Los Angeles
Darryl Hicks, SG, Tennessee Travelers- Over Sunday and Monday, the 6-foot-3 shooting guard performed as well as just about anybody in the building. A well-built off-guard with some bounce, Hicks ended his weekend by going for 21 points (17 in the second half) in an overtime win over Louisiana Select. He can make jumpers, has a nose for offensive rebounds and is tough on both ends of the floor. His Monday performance followed up a huge Sunday that saw him score 51 points on a sizzling 19-of-25 (9-of-11 three-pointers) shooting during a pair of Travelers wins.
Troy Williams, SF, Boo Williams- A lengthy athlete with rise and quickness, the junior-to-be gives you flashes of brilliance each time out. An outstanding finisher at the rim, he runs the floor just as hard to get back on defense as he does for slams on the offensive end, which results in lots of chase from behind blocks. Williams isn't afraid to stick his nose in there for a rebound either and the five-star prospect still seems to be just scratching at the surface of his potential.
Ricardo Gathers, PF, Louisiana Select- Bottom line, Gathers puts up big numbers each and every time he takes the court. Everybody knows about his strength and athleticism, but perhaps his skill has been a bit underrated and he's definitely one of the toughest competitors in the country. The powerfully built Louisiana native finished his weekend with 26 and 15 despite being constantly double- and triple-teamed, and mauled around the basket.
Semi Ojeleye, SF, MoKan Elite- The 2013 four-star is still shaking off the rust from a recent ankle injury, but he's one of the most powerfully built wing prospects in his class. As he's developing his skill level on the perimeter, he's best when using that body to his advantage and getting himself some easy buckets in the lane.
Isaiah Zierden, SG, Howard Pulley- Because it doesn't have a lot of big guys, the Howard Pulley squad relies an awful lot on jump shooting. And while streaky at times, the most reliable guy is Zierden. The three-star two-guard is a skilled perimeter scorer who puts clinics on defenders away from the ball. He scored 23 big points when his team needed him the most in a Monday morning win over the Albany City Rocks that propelled it into the Peach Jam.
James Robinson, PG, Team Takeover- Team Takeover finished the EYBL with a 15-0 record and has now won 27 EYBL/Peach Jam games in a row dating back to last Memorial Day weekend. The one constant the entire way has been the steady play of Robinson. A strong 6-foot-2 floor general, he rebounds, plays defense and is a steady leader. There are some guys who are perhaps a bit more athletic, but his penchant for winning is awfully tough to ignore.
Craig Bradshaw, SG/PG, Tennessee Travelers- A combo guard, Bradshaw plays basketball kind of like a small safety. He seems to roam spaces defensively and ends up in a lot of passing lanes and causes deflections. He's a tough kid who can attack off the dribble, finishes with dunks at the rim and is a pretty good shooter when left with clean looks.
Final notes from EYBL L.A.
Three-star wing Jeffery Moss was solid all weekend for the Alabama Challenge. A senior-to-be at Madison (Ala.) Bob Jones, Moss is a springy athlete who likes to attack off the dribble and score between 15 feet and the rim. The All-Iowa Attack completed its run from EYBL Qualifier to the Peach Jam on Monday and play as well together as any team in the country. The core group has been together for a while now and rising senior guard Mike Gesell saved his best for last during a thumping of Nike Team Florida. Poised, tough and under control, he's always going to give a steady effort and his workmanlike approach to the game allows him to be a consistent performer.
Rising junior Shaquille Morris ended a nice weekend run with Athlete's First. A space-eating 6-foot-7 post player, Morris has soft hands, surprising bounce off the floor and is not afraid of trading a few elbows and scrapping for position in the paint.
One of the weekend's breakout players, Baltimore elite faceup four Isaiah Miles, isn't a stranger to college coaches. The three-star 2012 prospect rattled off a list that includes Loyola, Towson State, USF, Xavier, UMass, Washington, Virginia Tech and Maryland.
He wasn't competing in the EYBL, but 2013 PG Ikenna Ireogbu stopped by on Monday. The four-star floor general from California will be headed all the way across the country next year to play for Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill.
The New York Gauchos weren't quite able to finish off the Alabama Challenge on Monday, but point guard DaShawn Suber ended his weekend on a high note with 16 points and seven assists. He's not the biggest guy at about 5-foot-10, but Suber is quick, gets into the lane and demonstrates some leadership qualities. It will be interesting to see what coaches think of three-star forward Anthony January. A long, 6-foot-6 athlete, he's a fluid guy with length and playmaking ability but a tendency to take the hardest shot he can. The Californian was home-schooled during his junior year but is hoping to play at Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft as a senior. A teammate of January's on ICP, 2014 wing Kameron Chatman looks to be one to watch down the road. The 6-foot-4 wing has a baby face and already shows comfort playing against older players.
Michael Qualls should be an attractive option for Southern-based mid-major programs this summer. The 6-foot-5'ish wing is very quick, an explosive leaper and makes plays on the glass. His jumper is coming along as well.
Tennessee Travelers four-man Shannon Hale is already committed to Alabama, so the junior to be doesn't have much pressure on him. For now, the 6-foot-7 Hale prefers to roam the perimeter a bit and looks to be developing into more of a faceup guy than a real banger in the paint.
The teams qualifying for July's Peach Jam are Team Takeover, Oakland Soldiers, Spiece Indy Heat, Louisiana Select, Albany City Rocks, Howard Pulley, BABC, Memphis YOMCA, Mac Irvin Fire, All Ohio Red, Team Texas Titans, The Family, Mean Streets, CIA Bounce, Playaz BBC, Georgia Stars, All Iowa Attack, Boo Williams, Athlete's First, Houston Hoops, Baltimore Elite, CP3, California Supreme and the Southern Kings Gold.