Coaches flock to view talent at Peach Jam

NORTH AUGUSTA --- Mark Fox is no longer a stranger to Augustans.

The Georgia basketball coach, like so many of his fellow coaches, watched opening day action at the Peach Jam at the Riverview Park Activities Center on Tuesday, but not before he made a stop.

"It's amazing -- I stopped and got some coffee this morning in Augusta and the gal knew who I was," said Fox, who led the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament in his second season in Athens. "Two years ago, that wasn't the case. I think we've made progress."

As usual, the first day of the Peach Jam was a Who's Who of coaching. Most top coaches from around the country made their way from gym to gym to watch players.

New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul also showed up to check out his team, CP3.

Many coaches sat alongside each court, with rosters and cell phones in hand, and frequently conversed with their peers. To make their presence known, coaches wore school colors or shirts with team logos to stand out. The rare exceptions during the morning portion included North Carolina's Roy Williams, who had a light green shirt, and Kentucky's John Calipari, who did go with a blue shirt. But by the evening portion of the day's slate, both had outfits with a logo.

Most big-name coaches swarmed to 11:30 a.m.'s Arkansas Wings-Houston Hoops game as Calipari, Arizona's Sean Miller, Louisville's Rick Pitino, Butler's Brad Stevens and Kansas' Bill Self filled chairs as the Houston Hoops won, 76-61.

Heading into this year's Peach Jam, some talk centered on a potential change regarding evaluation period dates. Currently, July has two 10-day evaluation periods, with the first ending Friday. A possible adjustment would see perhaps one of these windows moved to April.

"I still think summer is important -- I also think April is important, too," Self said. "If we need to take a little bit, I think there's ways to tweak it to accomplish both things. No matter what happens with legislation, I'm sure things such as this will work the dates around to make it work."

Michigan State's Tom Izzo, who said he plans to be at the Peach Jam for a couple days, said the problem with having two summer evaluation periods is they increase injury risk and exhaust the players because the two are so close together.

Regardless of what happens, the Peach Jam is the place to be again this week. The coaches said with the top-level talent, how well the tournament is run and all the support from the community, the Peach Jam is one of -- if not the -- premier summer AAU competitions.

"It's the best talent, and it's at a great venue," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "You get to see the best kids playing against each other, which is what we all want."

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