Trae Young was already a top-25 prospect, but he's picked up steam after a stellar performance at Nike Peach Jam.
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Young shows maturity, wins Peach Jam
The Nike Peach Jam is historically the best and most competitive tournament of the summer. So when a player excels against top tier competition, walks away with a Co-MVP trophy and wins the championship, you take notice.
That’s exactly what Trae Young accomplished last week, putting up a blistering 27 points and tossing out more than sven assists a game.
Young, a native of Oklahoma, isn’t a new name to the scene, as he’s ranked No. 25 overall in the 2017 class and has been rated as a five-star prospect for the better part of the last year. So seeing him put up high point totals, toss out nifty passes and reign threes at the Riverview Park Activities Center wasn’t necessarily a surprise. The change, however, was the way he went about his business and the maturity his game showed.
“Trae has really made a huge jump in terms of leading and managing the basketball game,” one high major college coach told Scout. “He has turned into an efficient point guard and no longer a volume shooter.”
Young admittedly had a different approach. He said going to Chris Paul’s guard camp in late June, plus a conversation with 2016 NBA draft lottery pick Buddy Hield helped mold his game.
“What [Buddy] told me that stuck out to me was his transition to just being more efficient with shot selection and just consistently getting up shots, where you knock them down in the game,” Young said. “That was the one thing I focused on going into Peach, being more efficient, taking the right shots and knocking them down and managing my team and leading them to wins.”
The focus on efficiency was evident whether it was shooting or handling the ball. At Peach Jam, Young’s turnovers were down from 4.1 a game during the regular season to 2.5. His shooting numbers were also significantly improved. In the spring, Young was just 35-for-114 from three. At Peach Jam, he made 24 of his 51 three-point attempts and connected on three or more shots from distance in five of his eight Peach Jam games.
Young had a host of college coaches tracking him at the Nike Peach Jam, including the likes of the Kentucky Wildcats, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Kansas Jayhawks and Texas Longhorns. Young told Scout he’s planning to narrow his list and begin taking college visits in the fall.
John Groce gets his guy
John Groce hasn’t had the best recruiting luck at times with the Illinois Illini.
There was Cliff Alexander recruitment, and the hat fiasco that went along with it. There was Quentin Snider, who committed to Illinois, then reneged on Signing Day sending his Letter of Intent to the Louisville Cardinals instead. Then there was Carlton Bragg, Jalen Brunson and others who opted for other situations after long recruitments.
And that’s not to say Groce hasn’t landed quality players, because he has, boasting a roster that consists of a half dozen former top-100 players. But the elite level recruits had escaped Groce and his staff.
On Monday that changed. Jeremiah Tilmon, Scout’s No. 19 recruit and Illinois’s top target, opted for the Illini, selecting them over the North Carolina Tar Heels, Kansas Jayhawks, Michigan State Spartans, and Texas Longhorns.
Groce and assistant Jamall Walker started tracking Tilmon when he was in middle school and that paid off, according to the 6' 11" big man.
“I’m going to Illinois, and the reason I’m going there is because they’ve been recruiting me for a while, since eighth grade, and I take pride in loyalty,” Tilmon said. “I feel like the coaches trust me, and I think they can get me where I want to be.”
Snagging Tilmon is significant for Groce and his program. Not only does Tilmon have legitimate size, but he’s a two-way player that will impact both ends. He scores it well on the block, but will also control the backboard and protect the rim.
“I’m going to get him,” Tilmon said shortly after committing to Illinois.
If he does, it appears Groce’s luck is changing for the better.
Commitments starting to roll
Heading into the evaluation period last Wednesday only 24 players ranked in Scout’s 2017 top 100 were committed.
Tilmon was the only top-100 player to pop this weekend, but there were two four-star commitments and a pair of three-star commitments.
Juhwan Harris-Dyson selected the California Golden Bears on Monday. A 6' 4", wiry wing, Harris-Dyson is just 16 and is equipped with upside, potential on defense and athleticism. Cuonzo Martin made a good call ramping up the interest on this one.
The Wisconsin Badgers reeled in their third four-star prospect in the 2017 class with the addition of Brad Davison. Davison lit up the Peach Jam last week, averaging 17 points a game. He’s a tough, hard-nosed combo guard that shoots it at a high level.