The Oakland Soldiers (CA) put together another stellar season in 2018, following up their 2017 Peach Jam Championship with a Final Four appearance last season. The Soldiers' entire graduating class will be playing at the next level, and the same exact statement should be accurate for the 2019 version of the Soldiers. Head coach Marshall Collins will have the luxury of coaching six ranked 2020 recruits led by Jalen Green and Ziaire Williams, as well as Dior Johnson - arguably the top freshman in the country. This squad seems destined for more greatness and will be a definite contender as the Soldiers press towards their third Peach Jam championship.
Simply put, Green (247 No. 2) and Williams (247 No. 9) are absolute superstars. Green, a 6-foot-5 combo guard who recently transferred to Napa, California's Prolific Prep, is one of the best overall guards in the country. Green averaged over 30 points per game as a junior for San Joaquin Memorial, and he should put up some massive scoring performances during his time on the circuit. Green has a lightning-quick release on his jump-shot, is super-quick off the floor and is highly-difficult to stay in front of when he decides to attack. Green will be must-see-TV if you're in attendance at an EYBL session, and the exact same statement can be applied to Williams.
A 6-foot-9 combo-forward with incredible length and athleticism, Williams should produce major numbers in the Soldiers' system and might prove that he's a tad underrated being ranked 9th in the country. Both Green and Williams are future professionals, and they should be able to accomplish some special feats as an EYBL duo.
Green won't leave the floor often, but when he does, he'll have plenty of support alongside him. Junior guard Zach Harvey, also of Prolific Prep, will start alongside Green. Harvey (247 No. 44) is a talented scoring guard that can fill it up from the perimeter, and he's still working his way back to 100% after a nasty ankle sprain in January. Harvey is a playmaker in every sense of the word, and if he's back to full strength, he will provide the Soldiers with an offensive threat and an improving on-ball defender.
The aforementioned Johnson will see lofty minutes in the backcourt, and the 6-foot-4 prodigy in the class of 2022 is eager to make his mark. Johnson, who just turned 15, played sparingly for the City Rocks (NY) as an 8th-grader, and he did more than hold his own. Johnson transferred out of Saugerties (NY) to Findlay Prep (NV), citing a need to be constantly working on his game. Johnson has phenom written all over him, and he passes every basketball eye test imaginable. Keep an eye on Johnson, as he will undoubtedly make some jaw-dropping plays alongside Green and Williams. Three juniors - Jelani Clark (Archbishop Riordan), Brah'Jon Thompson (James Logan) and Robbie Beasley (Dougherty Valley) round out the backcourt for the Soldiers, and all should receive an opportunity to contribute valuable minutes to the rotation. The 6-foot-3 Clark starred for the Sodiers 16U unit in 2018, and is coming off an impressive high school season in which he averaged 15.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.0 steals in 27 games. Clark embodies everything about the Soldiers' on-court mentality, and he should provide a tough, hard-nosed defender.
Williams figures to be one of the most impactful bigs on the circuit, and the swingman will be surrounded by a talented core of bigs. 6-foot-10 Shon Robinson will play major minutes for the Soldiers, and the athletic junior won't have to worry about pleasing college coaches as he's already verbally committed to head coach Kermit Davis and Ole Miss. Robinson (247 No. 139) has the potential to be a force down low but can be occasionally guilty of blending in. Robinson seems to be a perfect fit for this roster, as he doesn't mandate plays being called for him in order to be effective.
6-foot-8 big man Bradley Ezewiro adds another formidable big man to the rotation. Ezewiro (247 No. 213) has great hands and a soft touch around the basket, and he should be a valuable rebounder for the Soldiers from the outset. He's currently a mid-major recruit, but with his size and skill, it won't take much productivity to open the eyes of high-major coaches. Judah Brown will see big minutes for the Soldiers, giving Oakland a high-level wing that is dripping with athleticism. Brown is the prototypical Soldiers big man; long, athletic, and a threat to put you on a poster whenever he's touching the floor. Brown had a strong junior campaign in 2018-19 for Pacifica Christian (CA) and will be looking to make a name for himself at the high-major level. 6-foot-5 swingman Jason Roche will see minutes in bunches, as will 6-foot-10, 235-pound big man Dishon Jackson when he returns from injury. Jackson holds high-major offers from several Pac-12 schools, and his return to health would turn the Soldiers frontcourt into a full-time migraine headache for the opposition.
As one of the most accomplished grassroots programs in the world, every season is 'Peach Jam or Bust' for the Soldiers. Assistant Director Lance Olivier is equally-excited as Collins about the Soldiers' chances in 2019, and the buzz surrounding Green and Williams will be palpable. This 12-man unit doesn't have any noticeable weaknesses, and if they can stay healthy, they will be an odds-on favorite to cut down the nets in July.
Jalen Green is now part of the @Soldiers_Salute family. Not only is he a monster on the court but he is also very down to earth and fun to chat with! Full interview dropping tonight
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