Darin Shine won't have to hear any more stories about what it's like to play against the top high school basketball players in the country.
The Richmond Academy point guard will experience it for himself today, when the sixth-annual Nike Peach Jam begins at Riverview Activity Center in North Augusta.
Shine's Augusta/Carolina Hoopsters will compete with the nation's top 23 high school travel teams.
"I've already heard all about the talent," said Shine, who averaged 16 points and 12 assists for the Musketeers last season. "But now it's my opportunity to show what I can do. I already know what to expect."
The 6-foot senior has a solid source: His cousin Ty Shine competed in the first Nike Peach Jam in 1996 with the likes of Elton Brand (Los Angeles Clippers), William Avery (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Dirk Nowitzi (Dallas Mavericks).
Ty Shine is a point guard with Seton Hall in the Big East Athletic Conference.
"He basically told me what it's like being a little guy," Darin Shine said. "He told me not to get intimidated. Hearing about all these great players will just make me play better. I know there will be a lot of scouts here. I'm just going to do my job and run the team."
Shine is the starting point guard for the Zach Norris-coached squad, which fell into arguably the toughest of the four pools.
The local team will have to contend with last summer's top two squads: the Wisconsin Playground Warriors, who claimed the championship, and the Illinois Warriors, who finished second.
Boo Williams, this year's favorite to win it all, is also paired in that pool.
"We're not worried about that," said Dee Pierce, the Augusta team director. "We're not just in it to be in it. This team can make some noise. I wouldn't be surprised if we made it to the finals. I have a lot of respect for the other teams, but that's just how much confidence I have in our coaches and players."
The two teams with the best record in each pool will advance to the quarterfinals Saturday. The championship game will be at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Play begins at 9 a.m. today and will conclude by 12:45 p.m. The evening session will start at 6 p.m. and end at 9:45 p.m. Admission is free.
The wealth of young talent not only draws thousands of fans, but it also attracts a frenzy of Division I college coaches. Former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins, who ran a Nike kids clinic Wednesday at Riverview Activity Center, is just as excited as a spectator.
"Normally I'm here recruiting, so it's a little different," he said. "I've sat in this gym for the last several years and watched some great players. It's really exciting. I'm looking forward to see what this year's talent will look like."
NOTES: The Augusta/Carolina Hoopsters added three players to their roster: 6-6 Silver Bluff forward Alvin Greenwood, 6-1 North Augusta guard Quinton Ferrell and 6-2 Swainsboro guard Rocky Trice.
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