Two additional NBA stars are expected to be in attendance today as the second annual NIKE Peach Jam Invitational gets under way at North Augusta's Riverview Park.
Howard White, NIKE's Director of Athlete Relations, said at a press conference on Friday that New York Knicks power forward Charles Oakley and Houston Rocket forward Kevin Willis are expected to join the festivities this morning at 10 a.m. for his "Believe to Achieve" function."
Other that will attend include future NBA Hall of Famer Moses Malone, Detroit Piston forward Grant Long, Charlotte Hornet television commentary and former Wake Forest center Gil McGregor, Atlanta Glory American Basketball League player Neisha Johnson and the vice president of community relations for the NBA's Washington Wizards and NHL's Washington Capitals, Judy Holland.
The Peach Jam was the No. 1 event in NIKE's grass roots program last summer. NIKE is looking for similar success in this year's event.
"It (Peach Jam) was one of the elite events of the summer and this year, we expect it to be even greater," White said.
A kid's clinic will be held from 10 a.m. until noon. and an exhibition game between the Augusta Metros and Team International will be held at 6 p.m. All events are free to the public.
The actual tournament will begin on Monday at 9 a.m. with round-robin play. Thirteen of the top 20 rising seniors will be here for the tournament and one play, Brendan Haywood, will be a rising freshman at the University of North Carolina.
Haywood, a 7-foot, 255-pound center, will play for the Durham-based Carolina Warriors. During the 1995-96 school year, Haywood teamed with Clemson rising sophomore Vincent Whitt to lead Greensboro Dudley to the North Carolina Class AAAA state title.
New York City's Riverside Hawks are the defending champions and they will be led by guard Erik Barkley, who played on last year's squad.
"I wouldn't count Riverside out, they are still very good," said Ed Meyers, the Peach Jam's tournament director.
Meyers said Riverside's chief competition should come from the Illinois Warriors, Bloomington (Ind.) All-Stars, Boo Williams (Va.) All-Stars and the CMH 76ers. He said the Carolina Warriors with Haywood could be the sleeper team.
The Kansas City, Mo.-based CMH 76ers feature three of the most dynamic players in the country in 6-foot-6 swingman Jaron Rush, 6-foot-6 forward Corey Meggette and 6-foot-7 forward Korleone Young. All three are ranked among the top 10 players in the country. One publications had all three ranked in the top five - Young at No. 1, Maggette at No. 2 and Rush at No. 4.
"The CMH 76ers might have three future NBA first-round draft picks in Young, Meggette and Rush," Meyers said.
Boo Williams (Va.) team features the best backcourt tandem in Ronald Curry and Jason Capel. Curry, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound guard, is the No. 1 rated point guard and the No. 1 football player in the Class of 1998.
Curry led Hampton High to Group AAA state titles in football and basketball this past season and was named the state's Player of the Year in both sports.
Capel, a 6-foot-7 shooting guard, is the younger brother of former Duke guard Jeff Capel and the son of Old Dominion coach Jeff Capel, Sr. He played this past season at perennial prep powerhouse St. John's Prospect Hall in Frederick, Md.
Meyers said Stromile Swift, a 6-foot-8 center from Shreveport, La. will not be allowed to play with the Boo Williams All-Stars in this tournament. Swift, a top 10 prospect, has played with the Virginia-based team in several tournaments this summer.
Vincent Yarbrough, a 6-foot-6 forward from Cleveland, Tenn., is expected to make his college choice known on Monday. Yarbrough will lead the Tennessee Travelers in the tourney.
The local squad the Augusta Metros will be led by former Hephzibah standout and Mount Zion Christian Academy power forward Donald Little. The 6-foot-10 forward helped Mount Zion to a 26-2 record and a No. 5 national ranking this past season.
Little will receive help from North Augusta swingman Roosevelt Walker, Saluda's Tyrone Bosket and Butler forward Gerald Newton.