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Top coaches are drawn to Peach Jam

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NORTH AUGUSTA — The EYBL Nike Peach Jam sports some of college basketball’s most prominent figure heads. Names like Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Tubby Smith, Leonard Hamilton and Tom Izzo are all on hand to watch the nation’s top recruits compete at Riverview Park Activities Center.

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University of Kentucky's head basketball coach John Calipari (left) watches players during the 2014 Elite Youth Basketball League finals.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
University of Kentucky's head basketball coach John Calipari (left) watches players during the 2014 Elite Youth Basketball League finals.

Izzo, the head coach at Michigan State, said all coaches have the same purpose for this and any other tournament; improve the overall talent level of their team. He added that winning players can’t be undervalued in these events.

“I think you are always looking for talent. You’re looking for body language to see if guys are reactive when things aren’t going their way,” Izzo said. “You’re also looking for guys who can win. Winning is the biggest part of the game and some coaches focus so much on talent that they miss the guys that can help them win.”

Izzo said finding winning players is a lesson he learned from a former recruit who now plays on basketball’s biggest stage.

“My former player Draymond Green taught me that you can’t have enough players that can help you win,” Izzo said. “It’s great down here. There are a lot of good players and they are from all over. It’s also important that they are playing against each other. That’s important for us to see and it’s important for them to do.”

Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said the 17-and-under tournament isn’t the only place to find the types of players that you need.

“When you get a chance to evaluate a lot of good players in one place it is a great thing,” Hamilton said. “The great thing is that you can scout players to fill immediate needs and ones to help you out in the future.

Larry Brown, a former NBA head coach who now patrols the sidelines at Southern Methodist University, said he isn’t here to scout any one player in particular.

“I want to see everybody,” Brown said. “It’s a great opportunity for the kids and great for coaches to get the opportunity to see all the talent. I would love to get all the Texas kids, but too many good programs come into our state and take them all.”

Williams, the head man at North Carolina, said the Peach Jam is one event that he looks forward to attending during the offseason.

“This is always one of the best tournaments that you can find during the summer,” Williams said. “The kids play hard and that creates a great environment. It’s great for them as players and us as recruiters.”


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