Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A Fine Art at Peach Jam: Watching Two Games at Once
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Kentucky coach John Calipari stood side-by-side on one end of the gym here at the Peach Jam Saturday morning.
With a giant blue curtain dividing Courts 3 and 4, the two coaches straddled the courts at the end of the curtain to watch two basketball games at once.
On the other end of the gym, Baylor’s Scott Drew stood on a chair at the intersection of the two courts, while Kansas’s Bill Self moved back and forth between the two games.
On Court 3, 6-foot-10 Chicago big man Jahlil Okafor was playing with the Mac Irvin Fire, while on Court 4, the 6-2 Tyus Jones was running the point with the Howard Pulley Panthers.
Jones and Okafor are planning to play together in college and the aforementioned coaches were literally working on landing the package deal as the players competed simultaneously.
“It’s a fine art,” Drew told SNY.tv of watching two games at once. “In today’s society we all like to multi-task.”
Self told SNY.tv: “The challenge is not only do you want to watch and evaluate but you want to watch and evaluate while the players see you.”
Jones and Okafor both lost, with Howard Pulley falling to the Oakland Soldiers, who got 29 points and 10 rebounds from Stanley Johnson, and Mac Irvin losing to Team Scan, which got 15 and 11 from Syracuse-bound big man Chris McCullough.
The 6-7 Johnson — who is considering Kentucky, Kansas, Florida, Oregon, Arizona, UCLA and USC and may well be the MVP of the Peach Jam — imagined it must be tough to watch multiple games at once.
“Yeah, I don’t know how they do it, especially for Cal because he has a lot of players he’s recruiting,” Johnson said. “Every school, they have a lot of players they’re recruiting. They want to get to everybody but it’s impossible because most of the players are playing at the same time.”
A dejected Okafor said he noticed all the coaches straddling the two games.
“Sometimes I notice it but at this point in time they already know what I can do,” Okafor told SNY.tv. “I have a scholarship from all those schools, so I’m not really looking to impress them. I’m just enjoying my teammates and trying to win Peach Jam.”
Asked if he could imagine himself trying to watch two games at once like Coach K, Calipari, Self and Drew, Okafor said: “No, I don’t think so. They’re professionals, they’ve been doing that for I’m pretty sure a long time.”
Jones and Okafor each have their own list of schools, but both are considering Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Baylor, Michigan State and Ohio State.
They will both take an official to Baylor at the end of August, but have no other visits planned at this time.
Justise Winslow, the Houston Hoops wing who went for 19 points and 10 rebounds in Friday night’s win over Mac Irvin, is also considering joining Jones and Okafor in college.
Meantime, Johnson might well be the MVP of the Peach Jam at this moment.
On Thursday, he had a 70-foot game-winner waved off against the Travelers.
On Friday, he went for 33 and 14 in a win over Expressions Elite and then hit a teardrop floater in the lane with 1.3 seconds left to help the Soldiers beat the CP3 All-Stars 67-65. He finished with 24 and 11 in that game.
On Saturday, Johnson was helping the Soldiers beat Jones and Howard Pulley with all those coaches straddling the two courts, and Arizona’s Sean Miller watching his game exclusively.
Reflecting on all the big-name coaches jockeying between courts, Johnson said:
“It just shows that they have appreciation for multiple players on the court. Two good players on that side, a couple good players on this side.
“You notice it but you’re in the game. You want to win games. They’re going to be there regardless. I know where all of them stand with me. I don’t think it’s going to change my ranking or not, so I’m not really worried about that.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.