Peach Jam, which is the culmination of Nike's EYBL and generally considered among the best AAU events in the country, kicks off today, guaranteeing loads of info to come. Dozens of Maryland prospects, like Jake Layman, Arnaud Moto, Jerami Grant, and Elijah Macon, among others, will be there, offering a chance for Mark Turgeon to see them (and, in turn, be seen).
But that'll come later. For now, we need to mop a few notes from Monday. Let's start off with the most intriguing thing: Amile Jefferson is listing eight schools, and Maryland is one of them. The Terps are competing with Villanova, Miami, Ohio St., N.C. State, Pitt, Temple, and Stanford. Based on what I've read about his recruitment, Villanova, Ohio State, Villanova, and N.C. State will probably be the toughest competition, and it's a tough group indeed. Jefferson was always going to be a battle, and nothing's changed on that front.
Elsewhere, it looks like we have another prospect to start paying attention to: Zach Auguste, a 6-9 PF playing at New Hampton in New Hampshire. Auguste has been a Maryland target before, and per ESPN, an assistant - probably Spinelli or Bino, given their New England roots - was watching him, and his 2014 teammate Noah Vonleh, at the New England Elite 75 Showcase.
Auguste just keeps adding new dimensions to his game. When he first came onto the scene, his upside was based on his length and athleticism. His face-up skill set came quickly afterward with a complementary post presence finally debuting this past season. Now, he's added some much needed bulk to his upper body, making him a more consistent finisher and rebounder, while still maintaining the same easy mobility that made him intriguing in the first place. ...
UConn and Providence were also getting a look at Auguste and Vonleh where they were joined by Penn State coach Pat Chambers as well as assistants from Kansas, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Boston College and Auburn.
Auguste is seen as a three-star, but strong performances could bump him to a four-star. He'll be at Peach Jam with Albany City Rocks, so we'll keep an eye out for him. You certainly can't complain about the number of post options Maryland has.
And now let's switch gears completely and go southwest, to the Houston Defenders, who have quickly become the most important AAU team in the country for Maryland's coaching staff. (Seriously, how weird is that?) InsideMDSports has a free video of Defenders highlights from the adidas Invitational (Kanye warning; also, it runs for like an extra two minutes for some reason):
It's a highlight reel, so of course everything comes with a grain of salt. But I was moderately impressed with Sanders' ability to put the ball on the floor, though it was hardly enough footage of him to come to any type of conclusion. What really stuck out to me was Shaquille Cleare's size: he's huge. He might even have more girth than, say, Jordan Williams when he came to College Park. Luckily, it looks like he has a better FT stroke, too.
And speaking of the Defenders' loaded group: both Rivals and ESPN saw fit to give them major props in their most recent event recaps. Let's start with the Worldwide Leader:
Aaron Harrison (Houston/ Travis) - Harrison (like his twin brother) can play either of the three perimeter positions. That versatility is a major strength and he can score and distribute. He is probably best on the wing but he can definitely be a combo guard. He is a streaky shooter with range to 22 feet and an excellent slasher thanks to his skill set and strong body.
Andrew Harrison (Houston/ Travis) - Maybe slightly better than his brother, Andrew is best with the ball in his hands. He can create for himself and his teammates. We are not sure what position he will play at the next level but he will be on the floor at one of the three perimeter spots. He is best when moving forward and playing in attack mode because he can go right or left and plays with very little wasted motion. Both he and his brother could improve on their decision making, but most of the mistakes they make are made from being aggressive. [...]
Christian Sanders (Houston/ Saint Thomas) - He is a consistent outside shooter with range to 22 feet. From a triple-threat position, he displays a steady one- or two-dribble, pull-up jumper with balance. He plays defense with an understanding of weak side help and has a good basketball IQ with a mentality to improve. The more you watch him, the more you appreciate his game. His dad played at Kansas and at this point he has offers from Arizona, Texas, Maryland, Colorado, Stanford and Harvard.
And now Rivals, who was impressed at the Great American Shootout by the twins and their freakish power forward teammate, Derrick Griffin:
Andrew Harrison, PG, Houston Defenders - How good is Harrison? Well, he thoroughly dominated Showtyme Elite and led the Defenders to a blowout win in a game that featured plenty of pregame trash talk. The thing is, he did so without needing to score a single bucket. Instead he abused defenders off the dribble getting into the lane at will and setting up teammates for easy buckets. Later in the day, he knocked home some deep jumpers, continued to get into the lane. A physically impressive kid, he creates with or without screens, sees the floor and isn't going to give up his top ranking without a fight.
Aaron Harrison, SG, Houston Defenders - While his brother Andrew is ranked just a little bit higher, Aaron is a five-star prospect himself and was killing it on Sunday. Playing the point himself for stretches, he was much better than expected off the dribble and used his ability to escape defenders to the left or right to free himself and then convert on ridiculous finishes over defenders. A shooter as well, he was canning them from long range. He and his brother both saw head coaches from Maryland, Kansas, Texas A&M, TCU, SMU, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Villanova and many other places in the crowd to see them.
Derrick Griffin, PF, Houston Defenders - Regardless of class and regardless of sport, there isn't a more ridiculous athlete in the country than the high flying Griffin. A beastly finisher around the rim, Griffin feasted on lob opportunities created by the Harrison twins dribble drive penetration and wreaked havoc in the lane with his overall activity. The question is whether he'll ultimately choose football or basketball.
Hey, I have an idea: just sign up the entire Defenders team. Just do it. That is an entire starting lineup, 1-5, right there. Recruiting = solved.
I should be a coach.