NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – Steven Pledger and Andy Brown both stepped up in crunch time and knocked down…
Nike Peach Jam Stock Raisers
Looking at the recruiting class of 2009, what prospects boosted their stock the most in front of the coaches? One was Marcus Jordan, the Whitney Young senior guard and son of his Airness Michael Jordan. "Marcus Jordan enhanced his national stock more than anyone else," said Roy Schmidt. "'Who is recruiting Marcus Jordan?' was the question that I was asked most by college coaches. "Coming into the event, he had absolutely no offers at the high major level. That is inevitably going to change now. I know that he is attracting a lot more recruiting attention from high major schools now."
One player that Wainwright watched play with the Illinois Warriors at Peach Jam was Marshall guard Darius Smith. Smith was also trailed by Bradley coach Jim Les. Ranked 90th in the class of 2009 by Scout.com, Smith is another guy who improved his stock at Peach Jam. "Darius Smith to me personifies a winner," Schmidt observed. "He gives it everything that he has every time he steps out onto the court. In my opinion, he is the best defensive player in the state and one of the best leaders."
Going into the quarterfinals of the Peach Jam event, Warriors guard D.J. Richardson had to return home for summer school at Peoria Central. The Warriors needed someone to step up in their game against California Supreme. That player ended up being Darius Smith. Smith scored 28 points in the quarterfinal loss. "He does whatever it takes in order to win a game. If you need him to score, he'll score. If you need him to lock somebody down defensively, he does it. If you need him to be a playmaker, he does it. I kind of label him a mid-major plus caliber player, but I think he'll play in a high major program with the right fit. He will thrive the most in an uptempo-like system, where they play baseline to baseline. A system that will allow him to push the ball up the floor, get out on the break, and just press and hound people defensively, where he can freelance a little bit. He's such a great athlete and covers so much ground, that he would thrive in the kind of system."
The Warriors' David Brown did not have a spectacular Peach Jam tournament, but is still regarded as a high-major guard prospect. "I think more than anything else, David was trying to do too much at times," Schmidt remarked. "I think he got caught up in the excitement and he was definitely trying to make an impression. To me he started out slow, but played much better towards the end of the camp. David needs to go to a program that will allow him to utilize his shooting range, being able to spot up for three pointers, and at the same time allow him to create a little bit off the dribble and get to the basket. He has great upper-body strength, I just don't think he utilizes it enough sometimes. Overall, I'd like to see him improve his decision making a little bit in terms of knowing when to pull up for the shot as opposed to being able to create off the bounce and off the dribble."
New York Gauchos big man Dan Jennings has been closely followed by DePaul coaches this spring and summer. "I can tell you that we consider him to have very good post skills. He has good hands and scoring capability around the basket. He runs very well. We kind of label him an undersized post player right now. He can face up from mid-range, I'd say within 10-12 feet. Probably with his size, he should be able to extend that and step out a little bit further."
Illinois coach Bruce Weber had to be pleased with the performance of Illini commits D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul with the Warriors. "In my mind, D.J. Richardson has now become the number one player in '09 in Illinois," Roy declared. "Mainly because of the competitive fire that he brings with him game in and game out. His overall skill set has improved tremendously. I really think that if he continues to play at the same level that he did at Peach Jam, he's worthy of being a McDonald's All-American."
One player that did not help his stock at Peach Jam was former DePaul commit turned University of Alabama prospect Cully Payne. "The jury remains out a little bit on Cully Payne," Schmidt said. I'm just not sure he's a high-major or SEC level player right now. He plays hard. He competes, but skill-wise it's still apparent that he has some shortcomings in terms of being able to play against high-major guards who are really athletic and who really get after it defensively."
Bullseye on DePaul transfer Eric Wallace
Roy Schmidt didn't go before offering up a few words on wing Eric Wallace, who is transferring to DePaul from Ohio State University. "He's definitely going to help DePaul tremendously in terms of giving them some additional scoring punch. He can certainly shoot and also plays well in an uptempo setting. He provides some additional athleticism and quickness. It certainly bolsters their depth. He's someone who in my mind can come in and make an immediate impact."
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