TSF E15 team with local ties ready to race in 2021 Nike EYBL Peach Jam
Julius Patterson, coach of an AUA basketball team made up of players from the Augusta area, smiles as he looks back on what he has built over the past three years.
Patterson’s 15-U The Skill Factory team has come a long way since he started working with them in grade six. The core consists of five players – Raylin Grant (Statesboro), Elijah Crawford (Augusta Christian), Marcellus Brigham (Laney) and Jahkiaus Jones and Lavonta Ivey (Thomson) – from the region, including Patterson who is himself from the county. by Burke.
Playing at the Augusta Convention and qualifying for the Peach Jam 2021, one of the nation’s most prestigious amateur basketball tournaments, is a dream come true.
“I dreamed of it,” Jones said. “I went to the games when I was in seventh grade. I wanted this for real. I expected it to be tough, but I live up to the hype.
While Patterson aimed to take his team to the next level, TSF allowed him to maintain control of his team and provided them with all the resources to make it possible.
In 2019, Patterson and his team joined Freebanz Elite – from United Elite Basketball – sponsored by rapper Young Scooter and continued to dominate the national stage.
Freebanz Elite then became two consecutive national USBA champions.
“We said we were going to come back and win it all (next year) and then we came back the next year and won it all. I came back last year and won it all again, ”Patterson said.
From there, in Patterson’s words, “(they) blew up the country.”
Growing up just 25 minutes south of Augusta, Peach Jam was the goal of Patterson and his players.
They had the chance to play on the Under Armor circuit and with Adidas. But Peach Jam is affiliated with Nike.
“We had Adidas after us, Under Armor chased us for a contract, but all of our guys being from that area, they all wanted to play in front of their fans at the Peach Jam,” Patterson said.
“The guys from Skill Factory called and told me that they would let me be on top of my team, that they would always let me be in control and that they have kept their word from day one. They give us that. what we need, the money, the hotel rooms, the vans, the travel. They pay for everything. They’ve been a blessing to the boys. They didn’t have to take out their pockets with a single thing.
And three games after their first Peach Jam, Patterson’s 15u TSF team proved they belong. They started 2-0, beating Mac Irvin Fire 69-46 and the Nightrydas – the 2019 15u champions – 66-40. TSF lost its first game Thursday to PG Elite, losing 74-68, but responded with four straight wins to clinch a spot at the Peach Jam.
Most of their success was sparked by excellent defense, which TSF is proud of.
“I see myself playing good defense,” Jones said of his first experience with Peach Jam. “A good defense turns into an attack. My coach always tells me: ‘100% defending, he doesn’t care about offense.’ ”
In Tuesday’s game against Mac Irvin Fire, TSF kept their opponent’s best player, James Brown – ranked No.22 in ESPN’s Top 25 ranking for the class of 2024 – at 10 points. On Wednesday, the TSF limited the Nightrydas’ two best players – Jakhi Howard (No.5) and Klarius Amir (No.20) – to three points combined.
PG Elite dons the No.4 player of the 2024 promotion in Isaiah Elohim and the No.18 player in Jamari Phillips.
Elijah Crawford, a rising sophomore, is leading the way on the offense for TSF. In his first two games, Crawford is averaging 19 points.
“We all know we have chemistry so it’s a lot easier to play with them,” Crawford said of playing with guys from CSRA.
Ivery, who is also entering his second season, has taken on a real leadership role for TSF. He paces the game and prepares his teammates, averaging three assists in the first two games.
Even playing the tournament at home and in the national spotlight, Brigham, Jones, Ivery and Crawford say they’re not nervous. Pressure? Maybe, but they don’t let that affect their performance.
In recent years, they have been overlooked. Before winning back-to-back USBA National Championships, they lost to LeBron James’ side in the semifinals.
Team that doesn’t have an ESPN ranked player on their roster and draw on local talent shows the nation what Augusta-area basketball fans already knew: There are rising stars .
“We don’t take anything for granted,” Patterson said. “That’s why they’re kissing the moment.”
TSF was looking forward to playing in front of their home fans at the Riverview Activities Center in North Augusta this year; that was the only reason they wanted to play on the Nike circuit.
But Nike EYBL announced just before the Peach Jam qualifiers that there would be no general spectators on site. Yet the support is there.
Through live streaming and social media, fans support the home team.
Peach Jam hasn’t seen multiple local faces teaming up in over 15 years, not since Vonteego Cummings (Thomson), Will Avery (Westside), Ricky Moore and Tyrone Shine played together.
Ivery, Brigham, Jones and Crawford have now joined the select group of local faces to honor the region’s most prestigious basketball tournament.
“There’s no one from Augusta, Georgia in the tournament (other than us). So that means a lot, ”Brigham said.
Local names at Peach Jam are another step towards validating Augusta as a basketball town. For two weeks a year, Augusta and North Augusta are the mecca of amateur basketball. The other 50 weeks it’s a golf town filled with aspiring basketball players.
With Josey’s Women’s Team and Cross Creek Men’s and Women’s Teams winning the State High School Basketball Championships last spring, Augusta once again solidified her elite status. Laney’s daughters have dominated the region’s women’s basketball scene, being responsible for half of Augusta’s last six state basketball titles.
The North Augusta girls have played four consecutive years at the South Carolina State Championships, which were interrupted last season.
If TSF were to emerge on the national stage at Peach Jam, it would be another step in keeping all the local talent at home.
“Coaches don’t really come here, they come to Atlanta and places like that. This will help put Augusta on the map, ”Crawford said.
NBA scouts are also taking note of Augusta’s rising stars.
Patterson said the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks scouts opted for the Augusta Convention Center, rather than the Riverview Activity Center where the 17u games are held.
Qualifying for Peach Jam was TSF’s expectation. Patterson said they have faced just about every team that makes the playoffs this year. Now that they are qualified, the next challenge begins.
Patterson, Ivery, Jones, Crawford and Brigham are all convinced that they also have a good chance of winning it all. This year all league games will be broadcast on ESPN networks, not just 17u games.
The more TSF advances, the more the spotlight will be on them; the more the nation becomes aware of what is brewing in Augusta when the peach jam is not there.
” We will win ; is not “if”. When we win this thing, man, it sure would mean a lot, ”Brigham said.