Drive Nation made their Nike Elite Youth Basketball League debut this spring, and on paper, they entered the circuit with one of the most potent rosters in the country. Although Tyrese Maxey left after the first session, Drive Nation didn’t skip a beat, winning eight out of their final 11 games en route to an 11-5 record. Head coach Jermaine O’Neal trots out an all-junior eight-man rotation, led by Drew Timme, Jahmius Ramsey and Samuell Williamson. Talented top-top-bottom, there isn’t a drop-off when O’Neal looks to the bench, which will be a huge asset for Drive Nation as they maneuver through pool play. Drive Nation enters July with five wins over Peach Jam contenders, including a season-closing win over No. 3 AOT. There’s a lot to like about this unit heading into Peach Jam, and they figure to be a favorite to advance in Pool C.
Drive Nation features eight division one caliber players, with Timme, Ramsey and Williamson each taking their games to another level this spring. Timme (247 No. 49) is a jack-of-all-trades for Drive Nation, averaging 14.5 points and 8.4 rebounds while shooting 62% from the field. Timme is one of the most skilled bigs in the country, and his intangibles don’t go unnoticed; the 6-foot-9 junior averaged 2.3 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 steals in 15 games. Williamson (247 No. 80) oozes potential, and the 6-foot-7 shined bright in 15 regular season games, averaging 12.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists. Williamson loves to get up and down the floor, and has excellent court vision for a player with his size and length. Finally, we have Mr. Ramsey, Drive Nation’s 6-foot-4 freight train. A combo-guard in every sense of the definition, Ramsey (247 No. 35) led Drive Nation in scoring at 14.7 points per contest, while also chipping in 3.5 rebounds and a team-high 3.3 assists. His skill-set is in constant development, but Ramsey’s bread and butter is his athletic ability and aggressiveness on both ends. The IMG Academy (FL) product sets the tone for his teammates, and his energy has proven to be infectious - especially if it comes after a jaw-dropping stuff in transition.
Ramsey and Williamson are the primary cogs in the backcourt, but Drive Nation has some solid reinforcements sitting idly by. Three juniors - Avery Anderson III, Tre’ Williams III, and Alec Grandstaff - all see big minutes under O’Neal’s watch. Anderson (247 No. 64) holds the loftiest ranking of the trio, mainly due to his scoring ability and his defensive acumen. Anderson can do a bit of everything for Drive, but his ability to defend at a high level will be all sorts of useful at Peach Jam. He’s the perfect ‘glue-guy’ for this unit, and has the potential to put 20 on you in any given game. Williams (247 3-star) averaged a modest 6.4 points per contest during the regular season, but don’t be fooled. Williams is known as a sharpshooter capable of catching fire, and his shooting stroke could provide the lift Drive Nation needs to make it out of pool play. The same can be said of Grandstaff. His mere appearance on the court earns respect from the defense, allowing him to stretch the floor while creating openings for his teammates.
Timme is the staple of the frontcourt, and while Williamson and Ramsey will undoubtedly see time at the small forward position, Drive Nation only features two other true frontcourt players. 6-foot-9 Montavious Murphy plays big minutes alongside Timme, and while his consistency leaves a bit to be desired, the Klein Collins (TX) product has proven himself more than capable of contributing. Murphy (247 3-star) put up 18 points and 13 rebounds in a mid-season win over Nike Team Florida, and if he can channel that type of effort, he will improve on his regular season averages of 5.5 points and 5.5 rebounds. Victor Iwuakor rounds out the frontcourt for Drive Nation, and the 6-foot-8 junior was arguably the biggest addition to any Peach Jam contender after session two. Iwuakor (247 No. 95) made an instant-impact for Drive, putting up averages of 9.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in the final eight games. Iwuakor shot a ridiculous 77% (30-for-39) from the floor, tops in the EYBL during the second half of the circuit.
Heading into the season, the biggest concern surrounding Drive Nation was their team chemistry. They have a lot of talent crammed into one rotation, and the first two sessions made it clear there would be an adjustment period. Seeing how they played during the back half of the season, combined with a month and a half to build a stronger rapport, that should no longer be a concern. O’Neal’s bunch puts up 77 points per contest, and they’ll be looking to run Pool C out of the gym. It’s worth noting that they’ll go head-to-head with Maxey & the Houston Hoops during game three of pool play. There’s a strong possibility of that game being an elimination contest, which would make an already epic All-Texas matchup even more intriguing. This squad has the talent necessary to advance to Saturday, and if they get it rolling, a Peach Jam trophy isn’t out of the realm of possibility.