- Mike Grimala, ESPNHS
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Each week this summer leading up to the AAU National Championships in Orlando in July, ESPNHS will profile one of the nation's top AAU teams and tell you why you should be paying attention.
Team: Mac Irvin Fire
Location: Chicago, Ill.
Coach: Mike Irvin
What you need to know about Mac Irvin Fire:
This team has star power. Leading the way is small forward Jabari Parker, the No. 1 junior in the country and reigning Gatorade National Player of the Year. But he's not the only elite talent on the squad. Power forward Jahlil Okafor is the No. 2 player in the class of 2014. There are two other ESPN 60 players in the starting lineup: Tommy Hamilton at No. 42 and Billy Garrett Jr. at No. 50.
Coach Mike Irvin likes to play an up-tempo, open-court game in order to take advantage of all his playmakers.
"We get up and down," he says. "Jabari is 6-9 and runs the floor like a deer, and even Jahlil can run for a big man. We try to showcase the guys like that."
Jabari Parker, F, 2013: If there's a way to defend Parker effectively, we haven't seen it yet. The offense runs through the 6-foot-8 forward, who can score from any spot on the floor. "When you've got the No. 1 player in the country, you've got a shot to win any tournament," says Irvin.
Jahlil Okafor, F, 2014: Okafor gives the Fire a luxury that few other teams have -- an old-school low-post scorer. The 6-foot-9 forward has excellent touch around the basket, and the size to control the paint. "He's very strong around the basket," says Irvin. "He's a dominant big man."
Billy Garrett Jr., G, 2013: The No. 8 point guard in the ESPN 60, Garrett brings size and athleticism to the position. Irvin likes to let his 6-foot-5 floor general push the ball in transition. "We've got a lot of talent," says Garrett, "so I just try to get guys their shots."
Tommy Hamilton, F, 2013: A 6-foot-8 forward, Hamilton's smooth offensive game complements Okafor's power. When Hamilton, Okafor and Parker are on the floor at the same time, the Mac Irvin Fire boasts the nation's best frontcourt.
EYBL Session 3: May 11-13 in Dallas
EYBL Session 4: May 25-28 in Oakland, Calif.
Nike Peach Jam: July 18-21 in North Augusta, S.C.
Las Vegas Fab 48: July 26-29 in Las Vegas
Garrett played on last year's Mac Irvin Fire team, which was bounced in the quarterfinals at the Nike Peach Jam, and he believes this squad has enough firepower to come out on top this time around.
"I think we have a great chance," says Garrett Jr. "We've got the players, we've got the coaches, we've got everything we need to win it this year. We can definitely do it."
Antoine Walker, Juwan Howard
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1060dMike Grimala and David Auguste