NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Then there were four. After months of heated competition, the cream of the elite Nike travel teams has risen to the top at the Elite Youth Basketball League Finals at the Nike Peach Jam. Wednesday's schedule whittled the participants down to the final four -- Team Final, Spiece Indy Heat, Team Takeover and St. Louis Eagles -- setting the table for an exciting final day that will crown a champion in a game which will be televised Thursday night on ESPNU at 7:00 p.m.
Marquis Teague (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike)
2011, PG, 6-foot-2, 175 pounds
Team: Spiece Indy Heat
Teague, who dropped 30 in an overtime win against the always-talented Boo Williams team in the quarterfinals, found a way to help his team advance and keep playing for the championship. The Kentucky-bound point guard is perfect for the dribble-drive offense. He puts tremendous pressure on the defense, is relentless when attacking the basket in transition and lives at the free throw line (he got there 35 times on Wednesday).
Bradley Beal (St. Louis/Chaminade)
2011, SG, 6-4, 190 pounds | Team: St. Louis Eagles
He came out smoking in his team's quarterfinal victory over the Oakland Soldiers and never cooled off. He is a big-time shot-maker who has unlimited range and a short-term memory, which is a characteristic of all great scorers. He has a Ray Allen-type game because he understands how to move without the ball and only needs a small window to get his shot off. The Florida pledge wants the ball when the game is on the line and has a steady hand in pressure situations. The Gator faithful will enjoy watching this young man in Gainesville.
Ben McLemore (Mouth of Wilson, Va./Oak Hill)
2011, SG, 6-5, 205 pounds | Team: St. Louis Eagles
It is tough to call a top-15 player in the 2011 class a surprise, but McLemore had been relatively quiet during most of the tournament. He exploded during the semifinals with 18 points, including four high-wire dunks. McLemore is a smooth operator who truly lets the game come to him. He is a top-notch athlete (perhaps one of the best in the class) and chooses his spots when to show it off. He is great in transition, very effective in the half court and is a good shooter with range to 20 feet. McLemore teams with Beal to give the St. Louis Eagles the best set of wings in the country.
• Kyle Wiltjer (West Linn, Ore./Jesuit) was again one of our favorite players on the day. The 6-9 power forward is a cross between Keith Van Horn and Kevin McHale. His recruitment could get reshuffled after his performances this week as many schools inquired about his situation.
• In the Sweet 16 Tournament for U-16 teams, Arkansas Wings small forward Archie Goodwin (Little Rock, Ark./Sylvan Hills) has had the college coaches buzzing all week. He is a skilled athlete who has continually dominated the action. Goodwin is a name to remember because he has the potential to be an impact player at the collegiate level.
• Boo Williams' combo forward Dorian Finney-Smith (Portsmouth, Va./I.C. Norcom) had his moments on Wednesday. He is a long athlete who scored 13 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and caused havoc on defense.
• Spiece Indy Heat's Austin Burgett (Avon, Ind./Avon) is a face up 4-man in the 2012 class who earned some recognition with his play on Wednesday. At 6-9, he is skilled on the perimeter and is a 3-point threat in spot-up or pick-and-pop situations.
Michael LaPlante is a recruiting coordinator and has more than 20 years of coaching and recruiting experience. John Stovall contributed to this piece.