The Houston Hoops’ regular season should be split up into two sections; before Tyrese Maxey, and after Tyrese Maxey. The Hoops played their first four games without their junior star, finishing with a 2-2 record while losing to a Maxey-led Drive Nation squad. The 6-foot-3 Kentucky commit decided to hop to the Hoops after the first session, joining his longtime grassroots teammates De’Vion Harmon, Chris Harris, Bryce Okpoh and Dearon Tucker - all members of RM5’s 2017 Peach Jam run. The Hoops immediately caught fire, turning in a 10-2 record over the final games while turning into one of the EYBL’s premier contenders. While they don’t have the depth and size of their Peach Jam counterparts, the Hoops pack a ton of talent in their nine rotation, and will be a favorite in Pool C.
Maxey (247 No. 12) leads the way as one of the league’s superstars, and he does it with a smile on his face. In 15 NIKE EYBL regular season games, Maxey turned in First Team All-EYBL numbers, averaging 21.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.7 steals. As jaw-dropping as his offensive skills and attacking ability are, it was his defensive acumen that is perhaps most impressive. Maxey’s season-long defensive output earned him Defensive Player of the Year, proving to be one of the best all-around defenders in the back court. He averaged 2.7 steals per game, over a block per game and tallied six games with over four steals. The film does not lie in this case - Maxey is incredibly active and hardly ever takes a break during a possession, resulting in nearly four turnovers forced per game. His shooting percentages (47.9 FG, 82.6 FT, 33.1) are impressive, and if he can improve his accuracy from distance, he’s literally impossible to stop. Maxey is worth the price of admission, and will likely have another gigantic Peach Jam - and have a lot of fun in the process.
Harmon (247 No. 36) and Harris (247 No. 113) run alongside Maxey, forming a trio as productive as any at Peach Jam. Harmon has evolved into one of the best true point guards in the country, evidenced by his team-high 4.5 assist-per-game average. Harmon also puts up 12.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists per contest, and rides into peach Jam with a 2.5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Harris is fresh off a standout performance at the NBPA camp, and is one of the better true scoring guards in the 2019 class. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 14 points, 3.6 points, 2.4 assists and 1.8 steals per game, only turning the ball over once per game. Both are verbally-committed - Harmon to Oklahoma and Harris to Texas A&M - so they won’t have the added pressure of playing in front of college coaches. Junior Donovan Williams is rapidly rising up boards, as many high-major programs have fallen in love with the 6-foot-5 athletic guard. Williams had a terrific showings in June’s elite camps, and will look to improve on per-game averages of 8.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. The rotation is rounded out by 6-foot-1 junior guard Levontae Shenault, a 247 3-star football recruit and a verbal pledge to Texas A&M - the Hoops’ fourth verbal commit on the roster. Shenault (4.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG) provides a jolt of energy off the bench, and is a solid defensive commodity.
The Hoops’ five-man backcourt is complemented by a formidable four-man rotation. Okpoh (247 3-star) is the most productive member of the bunch, and the EYBL veteran will provide extremely valuable experience for the Hoops. Okpoh averaged 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds, shooting 58 percent from the floor while doing the majority of his damage on the offensive boards. In fact, Okpoh is one of two players to average more offensive rebounds per game than defensive (46-to-44). He loves to get up and down the floor, and the chemistry he has with his teammates shouldn’t be overlooked. 6-foot-8 junior swingman battled a nasty ankle injury most of the year, and still managed to average 6.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and a team-high 1.3 blocks per game. Disu is a long, athletic prospect that can stretch the floor, and should look like an improved version of himself in July when he’s at full strength. The 6-foot-11 Tucker (3.3 PPG) and 6-foot-7 freshman Arthur Kaluma (3.1 PPG, 2.2 RPG) round out the rotation, and the Hoops will be counting on them for productive minutes in July. Tucker has Peach Jam experience, and Kaluma offers an athletic, active body in the mold of Okpoh. The Hoops will likely bring up sophomore Jaquan Scott to the 17U roster for Peach Jam.
The Hoops will be one of the favorites in North Augusta, South Carolina in July. They were the seventh highest-scoring team in the league even without Maxey for four games, and you will be hard-pressed to find a team with better chemistry top-to-bottom. Head coach Tim Schumacher absolutely loves this group, and they should be firing on all cylinders after having a month to prepare. Maxey should be at 100% after suffering an ankle injury for Team USA U18, but there’s reason to be concerned about Harmon. The Hoops’ floor general will be with Team USA U17 in Argentina until just before Peach Jam. While he’ll be playing basketball at one of its highest levels, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be fully-rested with the lack of downtime in between events. Luckily for Harmon, he has some extremely talented teammates that should turn this into a meaningless worry. Expect Hoops to contend for bracket play, and if things bounce their way, you could be reading about a Peach Jam champion.