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July 16, 2008

Peach Jam top performers

MORE: Peach Jam: Monday | Peach Jam: Sunday p.m. | Peach Jam: Sunday a.m. | Hoops Tour

From an individual performance standpoint, it was a lot of the same names that performed well at the Nike Peach Jam last week. It was also the effort from a small-in-size but big-on-effort guard from Texas that had the folks talking inside the gorgeous (and cold) Riverview Park facility.

Rivals.com's Justin Young was at the event for the eighth year in a row and breaks down the top five Class of 2009 performers he saw in North Augusta, S.C.

Peach Jam Top Performers: 2009 Class
Tommy Mason-Griffin, PG, Houston Hoops
For whatever reason, there seemed to be a lack of intensity amongst the players at the Peach Jam and the understanding of winning the prestigious event seemed to be missing. Not with Mason-Griffin. Maybe it is because he's been playing at the Peach Jam for the last forever, but the mighty-mite guard seemed to bring it each time out.

Simply put, there wasn't a better individual performer from game to game than the guard from Texas. He won the individual battles and helped carry his Hoops team into the final four.

Mason-Griffin scored off the dribble, from deep, at the rim and from the foul line. His passing skills were crafty and perfect to his big men and his energy was infectious.

It makes perfect sense why all four of his finalists Oklahoma, Memphis, Texas and Baylor were on hand for each his games. Mason-Griffin is one of the most-wanted men in the 2009 class right now for a reason.

Kammeon Holsey, PF, Georgia Stars
The 6-foot-8 forward came to the Peach Jam knowing where he wanted to play his college basketball. He announced his decision for Georgia Tech the second day into the event and boy, did he take off with his play.

Holsey was one of the top overall big men in the tournament thanks to his crafty scoring in the post and his comfort level with his back to the basket. A number of schools sitting on the sidelines sounded genuinely disappointed that he was off the board. His play raised a lot of eyebrows.

Offensively, Holsey mixed in a nice jump hook, a soft touch around the cup and great body control inside the paint. His play seemed the most comfortable its been all grassroots season.

D.J. Richardson, SG, Illinois Warriors
If high-profile grassroots tournaments are foreshadowing for the post-season tournaments at the NCAA level, then Illinois fans will want to get used to hearing about Richardson's scoring exploits in March.

The wiry, 6-foot-3 guard has enjoyed good success with the Warriors in April and now in July. Richardson played with great intensity in probably the toughest pool in the Peach Jam. He lit up the Houston Hoops for 23 points and put 19 points on a John Wall-led South Carolina Ravens team. Against Team Jones, he dropped 21 points.

His scoring was great as was his attention on the boards. Richardson's play was great from start to finish and the Illini nation has to be excited about what kind of player he will be next fall and beyond.

John Wall, PG, South Carolina Ravens
It was an interesting week of work for the nation's No. 1 player. He had his high moments and his low moments in the prestigious event. It seemed like he was at his best when he stopped over-thinking the game and just down shifted and went hard to the hole. After all, that is his strength.

His best game was also his last. Wall scored 32 points, dished out nine assists and grabbed five rebounds against the Illinois Warriors, the top backcourt team in the tournament.

There weren't many new revelations with Wall at the Peach Jam. He's still the best guard athlete in the nation. He still operates like a track star. He still needs to improve his perimeter shot. He still needs to improve his on-the-ball defense. The good very much outweighs the bad and there was a line that went from baseline to baseline of coaches that shadowed the future pro each time he stepped onto the floor.

Xavier Henry, SG, Athletes First
There is absolutely no reason why the nation's second-best player needs to be playing right now. He is still hobbled by nagging injuries and his play reflected it at the Peach Jam. So why is he on this list? Because even as an injured player, Henry still dominated the field with his scoring touch.

Henry continues to show his competitiveness by playing through the pain. He also showed his absolute remarkable ability to put the basketball through the iron. One decorated coach said Henry should have been playing in the NBA summer league and not the high school summer league. That coach is probably right.

Henry put 36 points on Howard Pulley, marking the highest individual scoring game of the tournament. The next day, he dropped 29 on the Mean Streets. Henry averaged nearly 24 points a game. Imagine if he was totally healthy. His stay in college won't be for long but it should be fun to watch wherever he may go. Kansas, Memphis, Texas and UCLA, Henry says, are in the running still.

MORE: Peach Jam: Monday | Peach Jam: Sunday p.m. | Peach Jam: Sunday a.m. | Hoops Tour

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