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July 13, 2008
Peach Jam: Saturday evening
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- An all-Illinois match-up highlighted Saturday night's action at the Nike Peach Jam while a familiar face on the AAU scene continues to prove his worth and John Wall drew a major crowd of coaches on opening night.
HEY, DON'T I KNOW YOU?
The Illinois Warriors and Rising Stars both traveled to North Augusta from the Chicago area only to suit up and play against each other in pool play. The natural rivalry was fun to watch play out.
Down by 12 at one point early in the first half, the Warriors rallied back thanks in large part to the scoring touch of Illinois-bound guard Brandon Paul. The four-star guard got hot in a three minute stretch, scoring on three three-pointers and closed the gap in a hurry.
The two teams traded turnovers and a few made baskets until the halftime break. Paul's fellow Illinois commitment D.J. Richardson picked up the action in the second half. The wiry thin guard poured in a game-high 30 points and did it rather quietly and efficiently.
Richardson has proven his value as a clutch performer this grassroots season. The bigger the stage, the bigger the output from the four-star guard.
Paul finished with 16 points, most coming in the first half of action. His rebounding was impressive. Paul is a long guard with a free safety like body. His confidence and chemistry with Richardson was on full display.
The Rising Stars were paced by the familiar faces that seem to always shine for the successful club from the north side of Chi-Town.
Jereme Richmond, also an Illinois commitment, scored a team high 18 points. The long-armed 6-foot-7 class of 2010 prospect is about as fluid of an athlete as you'll find with his kind of size and versatility. He's a quiet scorer much like Richardson.
Nik Garcia scored 16 points and Jack Cooley, a Notre Dame pledge, dropped in 15 in the defeat.
Every year there seems to be a point guard on the Houston Hoops that understands how to win basketball games. Guys like Nic Wise and Jai Lucas got it done as the pilot of the team here in Augusta in times past. This year it is Hoops veteran Tommy Mason-Griffin.
TMG suited up with Wise and Lucas during his long tenure on the 17 and under division. He also learned a trick or two about what it takes to win big games and thrive in big match-ups.
Mason-Griffin's powerful ball-handling was on full display as he knifed through the Team Jones defense with little trouble. He found guys inside, particularly Augustine Rubit (16 points).
His match-up earlier in the day had a number of people asking, "Did you see what Tommy did against John Wall?" Apparently it was a strong effort and it proved to be victorious. The Hoops are 2-0 after one day of action and Mason-Griffin's ability to pilot the team is the reason.
He said he is down to four schools - Oklahoma, Memphis, Texas and Baylor - and would like to take some unofficial visits in August and then decide perhaps before the start of the school year in early September.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
Team Jones out of Portland, Oregon might as well be called Team Terrence. Class of 2010 prospects Terrence Jones and Terrence Ross are impressive prospects.
Jones, a 6-foot-8 point forward type of player, scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a tough loss to the Houston Hoops. He's an athletic and hard-working prospect around the basket and in the open floor.
Ross, a 6-foot-5 wing, had a difficult time with his shot due to an injury to his hand early in the game but prior to the mishap, the rising junior showed enough on his stroke to get the feeling that he can let it fly from the wing.
NOTES FROM THE NOTEPAD