Albany City Rocks 17U coach Jim Hart wants to one day turn on his television during a weekday evening and watch a Nike Elite Youth Basketball League game.
Until that time, a live televised Peach Jam final is good enough.
“Most kids have not had the opportunity to play on TV,” Hart said. “People envision the EYBL when, one year you’re going to look at a game and be able to watch on a regular weekday night. Having consistent teams and developing rivalries – that day is not too far off. For now, I’ll take the championship on TV all day.”
T he 2010 Peach Jam final aired on tape delay, but this year’s 17U championship tilt will air live at 7 p.m. on ESPNU. The f inal on Friday will conclude the four-day Peach Jam at North Augusta’s Riverview Park Activities Center.
This year marks the 16th edition of the Peach Jam and 24 teams qualified to compete at the 17U level, with 16 other squads in contention at 16U.
As always, top-notch high school players will descend on North Augusta this week, including Kyle Anderson, from The Playaz Basketball Club (N.J.); Brandon Ashley, from the Drew Gooden/Oakland Soldiers; and Ricardo Ledo and DaJuan Coleman, from Albany City Rocks (N.Y.) .
“He’s playing on the wing now to let him roam, like a 3-4 for us now,” Soldiers coach Derrick Artis said of Ashley. “He’s been really versatile for us this year. He’s the most experienced at the level and the talent speaks for itself. He’s pretty much doing a lot of everything this year, which is big.”
But the Peach Jam isn’t the only major basketball event happening in the area. The Mo Mentorship Super 32 Showcase, which features 14U-17U teams, concludes today at the USC Aiken Convocation Center, and the Peach State Summer Showcase is in action the same days at the Peach Jam.
Hart said this week is important for the kids hoping for a future in college basketball, since they will be playing in front of college coaches.
P layers will try to impress those coaches, and Team Takeover, hopes to successfully defend its Peach Jam crown.
“Our atmosphere is relaxed,” Team Takeover coach Keith Stevens said. “We don’t change anything because of the event. We’ve only lost one time in two years down there. They know what they’re up against.”