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July 17, 2004

Illinois Warriors Claim Peach Jam

N. AUGUSTA, S.C. - Julian Wright capped off his terrific play at the Nike Peach Jam with another tremendous game, this time in the championship game. The 6-foot-8 forward was the gas in the Illinois Warriors engine as they picked apart BABC for the title. The versatile prospect was the story from start to finish.

Illinois Warriors 78, BABC 46

Julian Wright was simply unstoppable. That was the word from Wednesday morning until Saturday evening as he used his versatility to dominate the field. In the championship game, the long bodied wing scored 12 points, pulled nine rebounds, dished out four assists and had two steals in the victory. But the stat line is deceiving. He played like the best player in the country this week.

His ball handling had a bit of flair while his rebounding was outstanding. His defense was intense and his scoring was always around the bucket. He makes those around him so much better and plays all over the court.

As good as Wright was, it was a balanced-attacked for the Warriors. Jon Scheyer, who struggled to find his shot all day but when he scored, it was always at the right time. The class of 2006 shooting guard finished with 11 points, four rebounds and four assists.

Illinois commitment Jamar Smith scored 11 points and shot the ball well while Justin Dentman and Phillip Perry added 10 points each. Impressive class of 2007 prospect Yan Mack Koswal and Josh Tabb both had eight scores.

As soon as the dust settled after the game, Scheyer and Perry found a quiet spot in the gym and both stared at the LCD screen of the video camera in Scheyer's hand. People caught onto what the two were doing. And then word got out. They all wanted to see the dunk. And if you saw yourself, you'd want to see it again and again.

Wright came down the middle of the lane with the dribble and took off two feet inside the free throw line and threw down one of the sickest dunks of the AAU season over Jeff Adrian. The crowd exploded. They should. It was unforgettable. Someone hit rewind.

After the crowd calmed back down, and to Adrian's credit, the BABC power forward went back at Wright for two tough shots inside in the paint on the other end. He was the constant for the Boston-based team, scoring 16 points while grabbing nine rebounds.

The Wright Stuff

Wright has made significant strides in his transition to the small forward position. He was the hands-down best player at the Peach Jam, arguably the best AAU tournament this season. For the Illinois native, he believes he is amongst the best in the country.

"I think I'm the most versatile player in the nation," Wright said with some reservation. "I don't think I'm the highest ranked player but I try to bring my best on every situation. I try to give my team what they need. If I have to play the point guard, or the perimeter or in the post, I will. I'll do my job and rebound and block shots."

Wright finished the tournament with an impressive 16.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game average and shot 62.8% from the floor.

Arizona, DePaul and Illinois had coaches at nearly every Warriors game and stayed from start to finish. Wright said he'd like to make a decision before the high school season begins in October.

How they got there

With the momentum rolling over from Friday night's terrific quarter final games, the final four teams gave those who stayed in town their money's worth with to great games in the semis.

Illinois Warriors 76, Boo Williams 72

Julian Wright kept up his sensational play with another dandy of a performance. He put in 23 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and three blocks in the win. Every bucket was big and his rebounding was outstanding. He'll never score on a normal pull-up jumper but rather attack the basket and finish with a herky-jerky move at the cup. Most of his points were generated off of his nine offensive rebounds.

His defense was amazing as well. With less than fifty seconds to play, Boo Williams sensational forward Vernon Macklin, a rising junior, stole the ball and was running the floor and winding up for a dunk that would have blown the roof off of the Riverview Park sports complex. Wright didn't let that happen though. He skied with the 6-foot-9 prospect and blocked the attempted dunk at the rim. The refs blew the whistle and said he got Macklin on the arm. Nevertheless, that play may have kept the win on the Warriors side as Macklin only converted on one free throw. Illinois was able to turn around and get the four point lead to keep the win.

Wisconsin-bound Phillip Perry hit on all three of his three-point attempts en route to his 13 points. The 6-foot-1 combo guard doesn't lack confidence and came up big in the closing minute of the game for the Warriors.

With Macklin (five points, five rebounds) struggling, and somewhat intimidated by the match-up against Wright, his class of 2005 teammate Daryll Monroe came up big. The 6-foot-7 power forward was efficient inside the paint, just like he was all week long, by scoring a team-high 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Mid-majors jump on him now, he's going to be a great four-year performer.

BABC 51, Houston Hoops 44

When it all boiled down to it, BABC used sheer muscle and force inside the paint in their grind-it-out, control the paint victory. Jeff Adrian and Jonathan Kale combined for 25 points and 17 rebounds while the Hoops frontline of Fendi Onobun, Gary Johnson, Jeremy Barr and Jeremy Mayfield could only muster together seven points and nine boards.

Adrian, the 6-foot-6 power forward who made a strong case for tournament MVP, did the dirty work once again scoring 13 points. He has a nice fake move to the middle and ten turnaround shot that is hard to stop when he's on. The undersized but efficient post man did everything he could do to ensure the victory.

Kale, who has verbally committed to Providence, played strong on defense and set the tone early inside, taking claim to the paint and dominated the boards. He's a steal for the Friars.

David Devesin led the Hoops with 13 points, scoring early on with driving layups in traffic. That is his m.o. and he stuck to what he does best. He also dished out four assists once the defense collapsed on him.

Hoops small forward Jermichael Finley continued to rebound the ball with the best of them, collecting nine boards and scoring 12 points in the tough loss. He's going to get major looks because of his ability to play strong inside and not settle for the perimeter game. Overall, it was a great showing by the Texan.

Schools that stuck around

With only three games to watch and a ton of time in-between, college coaches weren't in the stands by the numbers like most years at the Peach Jam. But the ones that stayed the extra couple of days sent clear messages to their prospective recruits.

Arizona head coach Lute Olsen and assistant Josh Pastner were in Augusta from start to finish to see Julian Wright. They never missed a game and they weren't disappointed.

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams sat on the baseline stands for the semi-finals and watched his future backcourt defensive specialist Marcus Ginyard in action. We also suspect he was keeping close tabs on Vernon Macklin and Jon Scheyer as well.

We also saw Illinois head man Bruce Weber in the crowd as well as assistants from Iowa State, DePaul, Colorado, Notre Dame, SMU and UNC-Wilmington.


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