The Nike EYBL circuit is a different brand of basketball. With so many talented players in one place who are all trying to make a name for themselves and impress college/NBA scouts, the intensity and passion in this league is unmatched every summer.
The stakes do not get any higher than Peach Jam, the culminating tournament in Nike’s EYBL circuit, an event in which coaches and players come from all across the country to take in the action. As a result, this week-long period of breakneck basketball is a hoop junkie’s dream.
I was fortunate enough to attend Day Four of Peach Jam — I’m from Georgia — to take in the event itself as well as some of Mizzou’s top prospects. Hopefully, my thoughts on the players I watched, as well as the tournament as a whole, will give you some insight on what has been going on in North Augusta this week.
Missouri Prospect Highlights
Dennis Gates and C.Y. Young floated around Peach Jam on Thursday, and they were able to watch one of their new commits (T.O. Barrett) as well as a host of other players holding MIssouri offers.
After watching the first half of Brad Beal-Team Melo, C.Y. Young has joined Dennis Gates to take in Mokan Elite-Houston Hoops. pic.twitter.com/WmaGCLDAoT— Parker Gillam (@gillam_parker) July 7, 2023
Yes, that is Dennis Gates sitting next to his mentor Leonard Hamilton and Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman. To be a fly on the wall in that scenario... (editor’s note: It is important to note that the Muss Buss remained fully clothed at this event)
Anyways, here are my quick takeaways from what I saw from each Missouri prospect on Thursday:
T.O. Barrett (Committed, 4-star SG, Mokan Elite)
Barrett’s Mokan Elite squad remained undefeated with a convincing win over Houston Hoops on Thursday, but it has not necessarily been the strongest week for Barrett. He has averaged 3.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 0.8 assists through four games, and shooting at a 6-for-22 clip from the field does not make matters any better.
However, in looking past the stat sheet and watching him on the floor, his value is apparent. Barrett is a well-built, heady guard who plays with visible intensity on both ends of the floor. He certainly appears to be one of the leaders of this Mokan Elite squad, calling out plays from the bench and consistently being involved in the hunt for every loose ball. His toughness should translate well to the college level, and the cold shooting will stop at some point. I can see Barrett becoming a fan favorite rather quickly, especially if he manages to reel in some of his teammates who will be mentioned later on.
The 6-foot-4 shooting guard committed to the Tigers on June 29, sparking plenty of hype for the potential of the 2024 recruiting class.
Khaman Maker (Offered, 3-star C, Oakland Soldiers)
Maker holds three offers (Mizzou, UNLV, Arizona State) and has floated around multiple AAU teams in the past year. He has not appeared to find a steady home, although his week at Peach Jam with the Oakland Soldiers (4-1) has been solid. Through six games, Maker has racked up 36 points and 45 rebounds, including an eight-point, 12-rebound outing against Team Ramey on Thursday.
In watching the 7-foot center, it is clear that Maker would be a longer-term project to develop into a threatening big on both ends of the floor. His ability to block shots will never be an issue, and when he appeared to settle into the game against a smaller 5-man, he dominated the glass.
What I did notice is a lot of passes slip through his hands and/or defenders are able to easily knock the ball away. A common problem for bigs of his stature, holding onto the ball amongst smaller players is more difficult than it looks. Still, he needs to be stronger and more confident with the ball in his hands, as it will allow coaches to trust him in post-up action more. Unfortunately, due to his matchup and the fast pace of the game against Team Ramey, I was unable to see Maker in a true post-up scenario where he had to showcase his offensive arsenal. Still, he is certainly a prospect worth monitoring as his recruitment heats up.
Bishop Boswell (Visited on June 25, 4-star CG, Team CP3)
Boswell returned to the floor after injuring his ankle on Tuesday, and while he only shot 1-for-5 from the floor, he stuffed the stat sheet with six rebounds and five assists. While I wasn’t able to catch much of his game, the versatility that he has at 6-foot-4 implies that there is major upside for Boswell.
Trenton Burns (Offered, 4-star PF, Houston Hoops)
It was a difficult matchup for Burns to go up against No. 2 center John Bol on Thursday, but it only put an exclamation point on what has been a frustrating week. Burns hasn’t scored more than six points in a game or recorded more than six rebounds, and Houston Hoops has stumbled to a 1-3 record as a result.
In watching him go head-to-head with Bol, the issue was with Burns’ pace of play. While Mokan Elite attacked the glass and pushed the ball in transition every chance they got, Burns appeared to be playing a much slower game that caused him to look out of place at times. His more methodical pace may not translate well to the EYBL circuit, and he’ll need to work on adding some more burst and explosiveness to his game as time goes on. Still, he has a great skill set for his size and natural post ability that could be developed into something greater.
Aaron Rowe (Offered, Plays at Link Academy, Class of ‘25, 5-star PG, Mokan Elite)
While most of the focus is centered around the Class of 2024 this week, it’s hard not to want to focus on Rowe, a Columbia native. The 6-foot point guard is third at EYBL with six assists per game, and he already has all of the tools to be successful in the college game.
Rowe competes at the highest level of the circuit as a rising junior, a difficult task for anybody. At just 150 lbs., that challenge becomes even greater.
In seeing him on the floor, that size disadvantage is nothing he seems to worry about. Rowe plays the game at his own pace, with the ability to beat a defender off the bounce or find a cutting man always at his disposal. He and John Bol are deadly in the pick-and-roll game, and Rowe just looks incredibly comfortable running the offense for one of the most talented teams in the country. He’s everything you would want in a point guard, and he can put on more pounds as time goes on. There is incredible upside with Rowe, and a potential reunion with Barrett at Mizzou would be something to behold.
Mizzou has offered him, and with how he started at Father Tolton High School and is now at Link Academy in Branson, Mo., the Columbia connection may prove useful in the future. He has gone on record to say that UNC is his dream school.
Dallas Thomas (Offered, 4-star PF, Brad Beal Elite)
It hasn’t been a great week for Thomas, either. His minutes have varied, but he showed promise with eight points in a win over Houston Hoops on Wednesday. Again, with a 6-foot-7 frame and the skillset to function on the perimeter, Thomas is a prospect with great upside that just does appear to be fully polished.
Mizzou has offered, and with his proximity in Little Rock, Ar., it figures to be a tight race between the Tigers and other local schools like Missouri State and Arkansas.
BJ Davis-Ray (Offered, 4-star SG, Brad Beal Elite)
Rowe’s running mate at Link Academy has similarly struggled at Peach Jam. The highly-touted recruit began the week with 12 points and five rebounds against AZ Unity, but he has not scored more than five in a game since while seeing his minutes dwindle. On teams with such stacked rosters, a lack of minutes is not a damning sign for any player, but it does raise concerns. Davis-Ray is uber-talented and holds offers from some of the country’s top programs (including Mizzou), so it will remain to be seen if he can finish the tournament how he started it.
Jordan McCullum (Offered, 4-star PF, Brad Beal Elite)
Frankly, coming into Thursday, McCullum was the least notable Missouri prospect on Brad Beal Elite. Then, he flashed his skills, scoring 10 points and reeling in four rebounds in a win over Team Melo.
The 6-foot-7 wing/forward showcased his ability to score both around the rim and in the mid-range game, and what really stood out was how well he used his length in the air to avoid defenders. He’s a freak athlete that could provide Mizzou with great energy and size to make a difference in the painted area. Georgia, Missouri, Ole Miss, Robert Morris and Tennessee Tech are the only teams to offer the power forward out of Huntington, WV as of now.
John Bol (Offered, 4-star Center, Mokan Elite)
Few players are receiving the headlines at Peach Jam like Bol is. After de-committing from Florida on June 30, Bol has made himself a hot commodity with his play this week.
In one of the most competitive games of the week, Bol recorded a double-double (11 PTS, 12 REB) in a 70-66 victory over Brad Beal Elite on Tuesday. Then, he dropped 15 and 12 on Burns and Houston Hoops on Thursday. He also is second at EYBL with three blocks per game.
While there is still room for Bol to polish his post-up game, the rest of his game appears to be college-ready. Bol is quick for his size and has some great hands to go along with his 7-foot-1 frame, and he is strong with the ball when he gets it. He has the ability to finish in a variety of ways in the paint, and he runs the pick-and-roll very well. He’ll need to add some muscle onto his frame and work to add a more consistent mid-range shot, but it was certainly apparent to me why he has offers from virtually every program you could think of.
Bol visited Michigan and Missouri last September.
- So many people chastise AAU circuits for their emphasis on individual talent and the lack of “real” basketball being played. While, yes, the EYBL circuit is definitely a different kind of basketball that’s main goal is to provide kids with exposure to college and NBA scouts, it is still a beautiful event and brand of basketball. From what I saw on Thursday, you would be hard-pressed to find a more intense and cutthroat level of high school basketball anywhere else. The talent level is off the charts, meaning that every player has the ability to make anybody look like a fool at a given time. The shot-making ability from these crafty players is impressive, but I was almost more taken aback by something else...
- ...Rebounding! Yeah, that’s not usually the main focus on the circuit, but man do these kids fight on the glass. Whenever a ball is coming off the rim, I could almost always count at least 3-4 players fighting for the 50/50 chance. The physicality and, in turn, fouling that results from these instances show that these kids are not just focused on the flashiness that so many people associate with AAU basketball. These players and coaches come here to win games, and combining that determination with the athletic ability and talent that is at the tournament, I can safely say that this is some of the highest levels of basketball you can find. Physicality and intensity are something that can not be gauged unless you are on the sideline or playing the game yourself.
- In terms of the environment, what’s not to like? You’ve got your overly passionate parents and fans who scream at referees nonstop, a track around the courts that allows you to essentially change channels by stepping a couple of feet away, a full barber shop and recovery room for athletes, and Chick-Fil-A is sold at concessions. On top of that, there’s a great chance you can walk by your favorite college basketball coach in the hallways. For a fan of the game, Peach Jam is a dream come true.
- Speaking of those coaches, I kept a running list of notable ones that I saw throughout the day: Dennis Gates & Co. (Mizzou), Brad Underwood (Illinois), John Calipari (Kentucky), Jon Scheyer (Duke), Ryan Odom (VCU), Hubert Davis (UNC), Mike Boynton (OSU), Randy Bennett (Saint Mary’s), Wayne Tinkel (OR State), Sean Miller (Xavier), Jeff Capel (Pitt), Porter Moser (Oklahoma), Bruce Pearl (Auburn), Eric Musselman (Arkansas, thankfully with a shirt on), Nate Oats (Alabama), Tobin Anderson (Iona, formerly of Fairleigh Dickinson), Chris Beard (Ole Miss), Brian Dutcher (SDSU), Dana Altman (Oregon, of course sporting green and yellow Jordans), Mike White (UGA), Todd Golden (Florida), Dusty Mays (FAU), Bill Self (KU), Steve Pikiell (Rutgers), Rodney Terry (Texas), Dan Hurley (UConn, sporting a backwards hat as the reigning champ should), Scott Drew (Baylor)
- Best Team I Watched Today: While undefeated Mokan Elite certainly impressed me, I did not watch any one team play better as a unit than the E16 Nightrydas Elite squad. The Boozer twins headline the team, with each of them being ranked inside the Top 15 of 247 Sports’ 2025 Basketball Composite, but this was a group that played together on both ends. The passing was crisp, their team defense stifled the PSA Cardinals from start to finish and they did not mind who scored at the end of a play. Cameron Boozer’s 19 points led the way, but four others scores in double-figures. Also, 4-star guard Dante Allen really jumped out to me as a great two-way player that is physical with his 6-foot-3, 210 lb. frame. He only holds offers from Villanova and Michigan.
Of course, Cooper Flagg and Maine United handed Nightrydas Elite their only loss of the week on Wednesday, although a rematch may be in the cards soon.
- Best Player I Watched Today: For the sake of not being repetitive, I won’t say Bol for this one. I also was not present for Flagg’s 38-point explosion (I hope to be Friday), so I won’t include him in this.
All in all, I was most impressed by Rowe. I can’t overstate how difficult it is to play at the level he is in the league that he is in, especially at the point guard spot. Smooth is the best term to describe his game, and he makes that Mokan Elite team hum when is on the floor. His recruitment will be incredibly interesting to follow as it surely heats up over the coming years.
- I’ll be back for Day Five of Peach Jam, so stay tuned for more coverage from North Augusta.