Thursday, July 14, 2011 Updated: July 15, 8:48 AM ET
EYBL Peach Jam final four
By Paul Biancardi ESPN Recruiting
Here is a look at the four remaining teams vying for a spot in the Nike EYBL Peach Jam finals, which will be aired Friday on ESPNU (7 p.m. ET).
The BABC team from Boston is one of the toughest and best defensive teams in the EYBL. It has lost only one game during the regular season and one game in pool play during the Peach Jam. BABC is lead offensively by 5-foot-10 2013 PG Jaylen Brantley (Springfield, Mass./Wilbraham & Monson) and 6-7 2012 PF Georges Niang (Methuen, Mass./The Tilton School), who is committed to Iowa State. SF Jake Layman (Wrentham, Mass./King Philip Regional) is also a good outside shooter and zone-buster.
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Defensively, the backbone of the team is 6-10 2013 C/PF Nerlens Noel (Everett, Mass./The Tilton School), who is one of the best shot-blockers in the country. SG Dominique Bull (Worcester, Mass./The Tilton School), 2013 SG/PG defensive whiz Rene Castro (Milton, Mass./Beaver Country Day) and 2014 stud SG/SF Wayne Selden (Boston/The Tilton School) are slashers offensively and solid perimeter defenders.
BABC is a tough team to beat as it forces its opponent to the basket and into the waiting arms of Noel. Offensively, everyone works the ball for the best shot, generally going inside to Niang or outside to Brantley.
The Georgia Stars are deep at the shooting guard, small forward and power forward positions. They have a balanced attack, as they share the ball offensively, which often leads to a different leading scorer each game. They try to use their depth to wear down an opponent defensively and will mix in some 2-3 zone with their tough man-to-man defense. They are led by SF Alex Poythress (Clarksville, Tenn./Northeast), PF Tony Parker (Lithonia, Ga./Miller Grove), SF Marcus Hunt (Riverside, Ga./North Clayton) and SF Jaron Blossomgame (Alpharetta, Ga./Chattahoocee).
In crunch time, they go to Poythress, who is a dynamic wing who scores inside and out. He is built like an NBA small forward and causes matchup problems for opponents. Plus, Parker has been a load down low on the block, scoring big baskets. He has an outstanding back-to-the-basket game and can knock down a 12- to 5-foot jumper. However, defenses can't sleep on Hunt and Blossomgame. Hunt has been a major player in the Stars' run through the EYBL as his team's top perimeter threat, consistently knocking down 3s, and the Clemson-bound Blossomgame is a lock-down defender who rebounds his position and makes winning plays.
The Oakland Soldiers are perhaps the deepest and most talented team remaining in the tournament, led by PF Brandon Ashley (Dublin, Calif./Bishop O'Dowd), PG Dominic Artis (Vallejo, Calif./Salesian), 2013 SG Jabari Bird (Richmond, Calif./Salesian) and 2013 Aaron Gordon (San Jose, Calif./Mitty). Ashley and Artis make it happen when the game is on the line. Ashley is a skilled power forward with a great face-up game who loves the ball in crucial situations and can hurt his opponent inside or out. He is also a good shot-blocker and rebounder. Artis, who can knock it down from the perimeter, runs the team and is the go-to guy with the clock winding down. The Soldiers can come at their opponent in waves, going on some great scoring runs. Also, look for Bird to make things happen in transition and on the offensive glass, while drawing the toughest perimeter defensive assignment.
YOMCA's trademark is its smothering defense, which makes it hard for opponents to get easy looks. Offensively, the squad looks to score off its defense, and when it settles down into the half-court set, it plays inside out going through PF Jarnell Stokes (Memphis/Oak Hill) and PF Shaq Goodwin (Decatur, Ga./Southwest Dekalb). Stokes is a physically imposing, active and powerful post player who scores in the half court close to the basket. Goodwin is a relentless rebounder on both backboards, and it is hard to stop him on the blocks when YOMCA needs a basket inside. Defenses must also watch out for SG Martavious Newby (Memphis/Booker T. Washington), a lefty who has been strong offensively, and SG Anthlon Bell (Bartlett, Tenn./Bartlett), who opens up the floor and changes the outcome of games with his deep outside shot.
Mike LaPlante and John Stovall contributed to this report. Paul Biancardi, who has been a head coach and assistant on NCAA tournament teams, is the national director of basketball recruiting. He is also one the voters for the McDonald's All-American Game and Gatorade Player of the Year. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.