We dipped into the KSR website redesign fund and pulled out enough money to attend the 2012 Nike EYBL Peach Jam in North Augusta, SC. After a morning of basketball games featuring the best high school talent in America and Canada, I returned to my greasy, disease-ridden bed/office at the 2-star Ramada to put my observations into words.
1.) Andrew Wiggins.
Wiggins scored 19 points, including the two go ahead free throws in the final minute, in his team's 54-53 win over Nerlens Noel's former team, BABC. It was actually a rather quiet game from the class of 2014's best player, but I didn't need to see 45 points from him to be convinced. All it took was a couple drives to the basket, splitting three defenders at once to break a press, and a dunk where his chin nearly nicked the rim -- and I was sold.
This kid will be on an NBA All-Star team by 2017.
2.) Every coach in America is here.
It would be easier for me to name the people I haven't seen (Rick Pitino) than try to name the ones I have.
A few personal experiences/thoughts:
-- Watched the second half of CIA Bounce/BABC next to Jeff Capel. He took his shoes off for some reason. I'm still a little confused by that.
-- Mark Pope stood directly in front of me for a few minutes during the first half. 1996 me wanted a high-five. 2012 me wanted him to scoot over, bro.
-- Remember Jerome Allen, the head coach from Penn? He's the Tony Delk lookalike we obsessed over last season because he's the only head basketball coach we've seen with neck tattoos and these soccer cleats
. Well, he was there this morning, looking just as intimidating as ever. That's all.
-- Coach Cal and Phil Martelli were best buddies while watching Andrew Wiggins. The two sat together and chatted it up throughout the game.
3.) I need a better camera.
The iPhone works great for posting pictures of sushi and shoes on Instagram, but Steve Jobs didn't take into account that one day someone might try to snap a picture of Coach Cal and Kenny Payne sitting at midcourt from the opposite end of the gym.
There should be an app for that.
4.) Julius Randle was unstoppable.
34 points. 16 rebounds.
He was a man amongst boys out there, bullying all five defenders on the opposing team. He scored at will and muscled his way through everyone to pull missed shots off the glass. This kid should play with his birth certificate on the back of his jersey because it's hard to believe he's entering his senior year of high school.
Jabari Parker better not get too comfortable at that No. 1 spot in the class of 2013.
5.) James Young was riding shotgun on the struggle bus.
The Kentucky target struggled in the noon game on Court 4. He only scored seven points in The Family's win over All Ohio Red.
Young is one of the players we're really following this weekend, considering he is the closest thing to a UK lock that is out there. We're going to wait until after his game tonight before we start questioning how good he really is. Everyone has an off day.
6.) Cal, Tubby and former UK assistant Mike Sutton talked in depth.
I tried to get a picture.
(See No. 3)
7.) 'Beats By Dre' headphones are a necessity.
Kids, if you have aspirations of one day being a successful basketball star, don't ask your parents for a pair of LeBrons or a new basketball goal in the driveway, just ask them for Beats By Dre headphones. Every kid on every team on every court puts them on as soon as the final buzzer sounds. The locker rooms aren't very far from the court, but I guess they really need that 43 seconds of Maybach Music for the walk there.
I own a pair of studio Beats and I can understand why so many people enjoy them, but they've become part of the uniform in sports these days. Dr. Dre is the new Mars Blackman.
8.) 4 out of 5 AAU stars recommend the Highlighter Hyperdunks.
So what if they don't match the uniform?
Everyone is wearing these shoes. It's like they're all holding down turbo on NBA Jam.**
** Super Nintendo reference
9.) Some hardworking Augusta girl is paying for law school this weekend.
Yeah, the AAU basketball circuit brought everyone to town, but the basketball doesn't last forever. So all the guys here need something to do when the Riverview Park Activities Center turns the lights out.
Insert the Discotheque Lounge.
We've already overheard two assistant coaches talking about it.
Here's a fun game for you:
Step 1: Look up the phone numbers of the local gentlemen's clubs in Augusta.
Step 2: Pick a college basketball coach.
Step 3: Call a club.
Step 4: Say this: "Hi, I'm trying to reach (your coach), his phone died before we could finish our conversation and it's pretty important. I think he said he's at a table, maybe? Could you have the announcer page him or send a cocktail server to find him? I'd really appreciate it."
10.) Coach Cal is free to move about the country.
Wrap your minds around this...
Instead of resting in the hotel room or grabbing lunch at Nacho Mama's on Broad St., Calipari is flying to Milwaukee to watch the Harrison Twins at the NY2LA Summer Jam AAU tournament, where he was last night.
He'll be back in Augusta tonight.
That's so Calipari.