The final session of the 2016 Elite Youth Basketball League regular season is upon us, and there are some terrific matchups to look forward to in Atlanta.
Only two teams have officially punched their ticket to North Augusta, so 22 bids will be there for the taking. Read below, as we break down the top contests of the weekend, including several ranked and bubble teams doing battle.
While each of these teams sports some talented bigs, including Marvin Bagley III & Cody Riley for the Phamily, the outcome will likely come down to the guard play. The RENS’ Hamidou Diallo and Phamily’s Remy Martin will battle for supremacy, with the Phamily needing a win to keep their July hopes alive.
Two of the best all-around teams on the circuit square off in this matchup that could well go a long way in determining Peach Jam seeding. The stifling full-court defense BABC is known for will look to slow down PSA stars Quade Green and Brandon Randolph.
This game will be fun to watch, with three high-level big men battling it out, which should elevate the intensity. The twin towers of Ayton and McCoy have been rolling since the first session, but Wendell Carter will look to lead his sharp-shooting crew to another impressive session.
Two teams with explosive perimeter scoring will be fighting for top seeds in Peach Jam, as both have placed themselves in favorable positions. Forwards Elijah Barnes (Playaz) and Carte’Are Gordon (MOKAN) will be a battle to watch in the paint, but this matchup will likely come down to the Playaz' ability to contain Trae Young and Michael Porter Jr.
Both of these teams are stacked with talent and will be showcasing it in an important Division D game. Two of the best overall players and rebounders in the country will take the floor opposite one another when Jordan Goodwin and PJ Washington face off. The Eagles would make a huge statement with a win of Penny and company.
Pulley’s run to an undefeated regular season will not ease up in their final session, and they will run into a red-hot CIA Bounce squad to finish their first evening in Atlanta. Simi Shittu is a bona fide star for Bounce, and he will have his hands full with the tandem of Gary Trent, Jr. and Brad Davison. Pulley will be undermanned, heading to Atlanta with only seven healthy players.
Houston and Dallas will go to battle on Saturday, and this should be an all-out war as both squads look to secure their Peach Jam berth. Billy Preston and Jarred Vanderbilt will have their hands full with Mitchell Robinson and Royce Hamm - formerly of the Hoops.
With the addition of freshman Tyger Campbell, Spiece went from a solid team to a great one. However, they will face a test against a deep backcourt rotation for Playaz. Jaren Jackson could be the deciding factor for Spiece if he goes off for a big scoring night.
These two squads have a combined record of 17-5, and both figure to be strong contenders in North Augusta. It will be extremely entertaining to see Most Valuable Player candidates Jordan Goodwin (Eagles) and Lonnie Walker (Final) go head-to-head.
In a game that Takeover needs to win to cement their spot in the postseason, City Rocks will look to further assert their dominance and try to snag a top seed in Peach Jam. DJ Harvey will face a huge test for Takeover, going against the lethal tandem of Anthony Gaines and Andrew Platek for City Rocks.
Both of these squads will be fighting for their Peach Jam lives in Atlanta, which makes this matchup vitally important. The Prospects don't have the size to compete on the interior with Marvin Bagley III and Cody Riley, but their combination of Charles O'Bannon and Troy Brown Jr. should give the Phamily fits. The winner of this matchup should be in good shape for the Peach.
With PJ Washington and Jaren Jackson taking center stage for their respective squads, the backcourts will likely determine the outcome. Jarkel Joiner and Khalil Garland have been lighting it up for Team Penny, and the duo of Justin Roberts and Tyger Campbell was fantastic in Hampton. Penny guard John Petty will likely be the x-factor in this one, as he's a matchup nightmare defensively.
Darius Garland has stepped up in a big way for the Eagles alongside Jordan Goodwin, and he will look to make a name for himself against the defending session MVP, Trae Young. Two other stars, Jordan Goodwin and Michael Porter, Jr., will make this a must-watch for spectators.
Each of these teams are stacked with great guards, but only one has cemented their place as one of the premier teams in the league. If they have any hope of grabbing one of the final spots for Peach Jam, the Lightning need to win this one.
King James is one of several teams in Division A with Peach Jam in their sights, and they will do a lot for their cause by winning this one. Anthony Gaines (Rocks) and Markell Johnson (King James) have proven to be two of the most complete players on the circuit this season.
Georgia's two EYBL affiliates will be fighting like hell to clinch their Peach Jam berths, and one of them will be dealt a crucial loss in this matchup. The Stars have been up and down all season relying on their strong defense, while the Stampede have relied on scorers Collin Sexton and Aljami Durham. The backcourts will likely decide this contest.
With a dominant weekend in Hampton, E1T1 pulled themselves to within a fighter’s chance of overtaking Pulley for the Division B crown. However, a win here would be huge for Kevin Knox and company regardless. Trent and Knox will provide plenty of highlights just between the two of them, but the undermanned Panthers will definitely have their work cut out for them against the gigantic crew from Orlando.
Expressions took a step back in Hampton, but remains one of the top all-around squads in the league, and BABC brings experience and a deep rotation to the table. Both teams are 6-5 and the winner would all but clinch a spot in Peach Jam. Arguably more important to both squads? Bragging rights as Boston's finest EYB grassroots basketball program will be on the line.
Yet another game with no shortage of playmaking backcourt stars, each of these teams has won its fair share of tough games to get to this point. With many players on each roster who face off during the winter, this game will be physical to say the least. Can the Playaz' backcourt depth slow down Walker, Reddish and Russell? Time will tell.
Simply put, two of the best grassroots basketball squads in the country right now. The Division D foes each are favorites to advance deep in Peach Jam, and this game will be a great warm-up for the high level of play once they get their. A handful of 2017’s best will be on the floor, highlighted by MOKAN's Michael Porter Jr. & Trae Young, and Penny's PJ Washington and John Petty.
Cali Supreme’s stacked rotation has been somewhat inconsistent for the level of talent they have, and Brian Bowen will look to lead his MeanStreets team to any advantage he can get. Supreme’s perimeter scoring from high school teammates Ethan Thompson and Jordan Schakel may put them over the top in this one, but this result will likely come down to MeanStreets' ability to defend DeAndre Ayton & Brandon McCoy on the interior.
Pulley’s tough road continues against a Houston Hoops team that appears to be just coming into its own. The tough 2017 forward combo of Jarred Vanderbilt and Billy Preston will not be an easy one to stop, leaving Pulley rim protector Theo John as perhaps the most important player on the floor. Hoops will desperately need a victory in this matchup in order to qualify for Peach Jam.
Everywhere you look in this one there will be a matchup worth watching. Down low, Nick Richards will go against Mo Bamba and Hasahn French, while on the perimeter there will be scorers and playmakers galore on either side.
The Wings’ mew lethal backcourt of Therren Shelton-Szmidt and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was out in full force in Hampton, and although they may be a long shot to make Peach Jam, they can still make life difficult for a Spiece team that has been on a roll. A win here, and likely an undefeated session, would have the Wings in a good spot.
In a stacked Division D, seemingly no game is an easy one and this game will pit two of its best against one another as MOKAN and Team Final battle for supremacy. Star guards Lonnie Walker and Trae Young are the leaders for their respective clubs, but both have plenty of talent alongside them to give this one plenty of hype.
Chris Lykes has been sensational for Takeover this season, and his team will need him to be great once again against a Supreme squad with as complete a lineup as there is on the circuit. Takeover forward DJ Harvey (10.9 PPG) and center Luke Garza (10.3 PPG) will need to step up against the two bigs for the Supreme.
The lethal three-point marksmen for Team CP3 have helped fuel their run to the top of Division A, and Michael Hueitt, Jr. (46 percent from deep) and Lavar Batts, Jr. (37 percent) will have to be big for them to defeat King James. Wendell Carter should get a stiff test from KJSS big man Kyle Young.
The session's final slate of games features the Stampede taking on Chicago MeanStreets. Both will be hungry for a win, and both will likely need one in order to feel comfortable about their Peach Jam chances. Brian Bowen (MS) vs. Collin Sexton (Stampede) will be worth the price of admission.