It’s one of the biggest weeks for basketball anywhere in the country. High school stars are here, college coaches are watching, and the spotlight is shining on North Augusta.
Hundreds walked through the doors of the new and improved Riverview Park facility. Although officials did not let media speak with players or coaches, NewsChannel 6’s Samantha Williams talked to parents. They said what happens in the building has the potential to change players’ basketball careers.
“So this is going to be our last Peach Jam,” Laquita Harmon from Texas, DeVion Harmon’s mother, told us.
The Nike Peach Jam is nothing new for 17-year-old DeVion. He competed in the tournament last year, and his team, the “Houston Hoopers,” are off to good start this go-around.
The first games tipped off at 5 Wednesday night: The Hoopers up against the PSA Cardinals. Tied, with one second on the clock, the Texas team shot the winning basket: “That’s what we do. That is the winning team we have,” Laquita said. “We make big shots.”
Even as a 3-year-old, DeVion has been shooting hoops. He plays for a team back home, U.S.A.T who won the U-16 last year. The family just got back to The States yesterday from Argentina, bringing home a world championship title.
DeVion, approaching his senior year, already has his future laid out: “He verbally committed to Oklahoma, OU. Well, then every child’s goal is to go to the MBA,” his mother explained.
But for 15-year-old GaQuincey McKinstry, this is all a first. Balling with the W.A.C.G.’s out of Nashville, his squad was defeated by Team Final. Harmon’s family, though, not losing hope: “A lot of people on this team can bring it, and when I say bring it, I mean a dog fight,” Karla Anderson of Nashville, McKinstry’s family member, told NewsChannel 6.
It’s said to be basketball’s biggest recruiting showcase. This 23rd annual Peach Jam welcomes the nation’s top players, and just about every big-time coach will be in the gyms, scouting out future athletes.
“A lot of these kids were born into it. They have been doing since the 4th grade,” Anderson said. “It runs through their blood.”
The event continues to grow and so does the Riverview Park facility. Just this year, a concourse, rest rooms and a concession stand were added. And costing $5 million, 2 new courts sit in the middle of it all, making room for an additional 12 teams to showcase their skills.
“This must be new because I have never been in this gym, but that is good because it opens up for more room,” Harmon said.
The events last four days with the champions facing off at 2 p.m. Sunday.
CLICK HERE for the full schedule.
Photojournalist: Antony Sherrod