For the past two years in mid-July, the state of South Carolina has been the epicenter of the top high school basketball talent in the country.
Nike’s Peach Jam in North Augusta and Adidas’ Gauntlet in Spartanburg are taking place just over two hours away from each other. Those events, along with Under Armour’s event in Atlanta, bring out the top-notched talent and high-profile men’s college basketball coaches as the summer evaluation period kicks off in full force.
“You got this little triangle of basketball power going on right here in the Southeast,” Rivals national recruiting analyst Eric Bossi said. “Peach Jam isn’t leaving North Augusta any time soon, and Adidas seems happy with what is going on in Spartanburg. And what is really impressive is the crowds that are turning out.”
It’s not only the crowds, but who is in them. Sure, there is the who’s who of Division I coaches like Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Kentucky’s John Calipari, South Carolina’s Frank Martin and Clemson’s Brad Brownell making the trek between both places.
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Current and former NBA players are spotted in the stands getting a glimpse of future talent which includes Marvin Bagley, the No. 1-ranked prospect for the class of 2018 who is playing at Peach Jam. NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal was in attendance for much of the five-day event. O’Neal was there to his son Shareef, a high-level prospect who plays for California Supreme, which has highly touted prospect Bol Bol – son of former NBA player Manute Bol – on the roster.
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, a Peach Jam alum, was on the bench watching his Bradley Beal Elite teams play. Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul and former Boston Celtic Paul Pierce were in the stands watching the AAU teams that they sponsor.
Golden State Warriors All-Star Kevin Durant attended the Peach Jam on Thursday. He played in the 2005 event. Banners and billboards of Durant were plastered all around the Riverview Park Activities Center.
“On Wednesday night, he is Los Angeles at the ESPYs,” Bossi said. “And he gets on a plane and flies across country next day. He was here all day and actively watching kids.”
While the Peach Jam is the more established event, the Gauntlet is in its second year in Spartanburg and one of the Adidas Uprising events. More than 200 teams playing at six different sites with marquee games taking place at 120,000-square Upward Stars Center which opened in 2014.
There weren’t any celebrities at the Gauntlet, although rumors had rapper Drake showing up to see his Instagram buddy Zion Williamson.
Williamson, who attends Spartanburg Day, is the main attraction of the Gauntlet and fans squeezed in to catch a glimpse of his two games for S.C. Supreme on Thursday.
“I don’t doubt that Zion being Zion has hurt anything. It is like the perfect time to do that,” Bossi said. “You’ve got a kid coming through that is a hometown kid. Adidas also has a good roster of players so there is more guys to go see.”
Some of the star power on the Adidas circuit includes 2018 prospects Immanuel Quickley, Romeo Langford and A.C. Flora’s Christian Brown, one of the top prospects for 2019. Brown is playing for GameElite on the Adidas circuit this year after playing at Peach Jam last year with the Georgia Stars.
“Adidas is great. They plan everything out so perfect,” Brown said. “Having played in both, I like Adidas a little more.”