HAMPTON, Va. -- CP3 All Stars (N.C.) swingman Theo Pinson doesn’t mind admitting that when he glanced over to the sideline and saw coaches from Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, North Carolina State and others watching his every move, it gave him extra incentive to work even harder on the court.
Pinson and CP3 were one of 40 teams competing in the second of four sessions in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League here last weekend. The teams are vying for one of 24 spots in the Nike Peach Jam in July.
“Some guys say they block it out, but I don’t think that’s real,” said Pinson, a sophomore who is ranked No. 9 in the ESPN 25. “I definitely think to myself that I need to do the little things and play better defense and concentrate on playing harder. The coaches are the big motivator.”
Metro Hawks (N.Y.) junior guard Isaiah Lewis agreed.
He said that seeing the coaches who are recruiting him made him want to play harder to reinforce the fact that they want him.
“You don’t want that interest to drop off,” Lewis said. “There are so many good players in this league, and you just want to come out and play the best that you can. The coaches help you with that.”
Last of the Unbeatens
With the second session of the EYBL in the books, CIA Bounce (Can.) is the lone undefeated team. The Canadians won five games this weekend by an average of 18.6 points per game and now sit at 9-0.
Bounce guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes said that even though they’re the last undefeated squad, there’s no pressure to remain perfect.
“We’re just going to keep going out and performing at a high level,” he said. “We feel we can go undefeated throughout the entire season.”
Parker Sits Out
Mac Irvin Fire (Ill.) had to compete without its biggest piece this weekend, swingman Jabari Parker who is the top player in the ESPN 60. Parker stayed back in Chicago to nurse a sprained ankle and to receive an award, according to his teammate Jahlil Okafor.
“We just had to keep playing hard without him,” said Okafor, a sophomore center who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPN 25.
The Fire went 3-2 this weekend without Parker, who is expected to be ready for session three in Dallas on May 11-13.
Randle’s Shoe Obsession
Julius Randle had to bring an extra bag on his trip to Hampton for the second session of Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, but it wasn’t for extra clothes. Randle needed a bag to store seven pairs of shoes.
“I mean come on, I’m a ball player,” said Randle, a junior forward who ran with Team Texas Titans. “I’ve got to switch up my shoes for my different games.”
Randle wasn’t kidding.
From Kobe Bryant’s grey and blacks shoes to Kevin Durant’s black and blues, Randle wore a different pair each time he took the floor.
“I’m just a sneaker guy, I guess,” said Randle, who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPN 60. “That’s just my thing.”
Mac Irvin Fire (Ill.) center Jahlil Okafor caused quite a stir in his game against the Georgia Stars in the morning session on Sunday. Okafor bent the rim down when he missed a dunk in the second half, stopping play for more than an hour.
Immediately, players and spectators ran from the adjoining courts to snap pictures of the bent rim.
Eventually, the game was moved to another court and Mac Irvin won 65-51.