Team United completed one of the biggest single-season turnarounds in EYBL history this spring, putting up an 8-8 regular-season record after a disastrous 0-16 showing in 2017. The 24-game swing was good enough to land a Peach Jam berth, and Team United didn’t accomplish their goal without some major adversity. During the regular season’s final session, junior James Hampton collapsed on the floor mid-game, ultimately passing away in the most tragic moment in EYBL history. Words cannot describe the heartache and pain that the Team United program had to endure, and they still needed one more win to lock up a Peach Jam bid. Behind an resilient coaching staff and a tough-as-nails roster, Team United came out the morning after the tragedy and put a hurt on All Ohio Red, locking up the program’s first bid to Peach Jam since 2012. They’ll be playing for ‘JaMo’ for the rest of the summer, and you can bet they will be playing as hard as any squad at the Riverview Activities Center.
Two juniors stand out when watching Team United; Juwan Gary and Patrick Williams. A 6-foot-6 swingman, Gary (247 No. 71) does a bit of everything for Team United, and he’ll carry regular-season averages of 17.3 points and 5.3 rebounds into Peach Jam. Gary is at his best when he’s operating in a fast-paced offense, and he gives United a versatile defender capable of guarding multiple positions. Williams (247 No. 63) is a 6-foot-7 combo guard hailing from West Charlotte (NC) high school, and like Gary, he’s a certified high-major prospect. Williams shot a team-high 42% from behind-the-arc and also attempted a team-high 67 free throws. Williams and Gary tied for the team-high with 20 three-pointers made during the regular season, and if one of them catches fire, their chances in pool play will rise. Both are capable of putting 20+ on you, and both won’t leave the court very often for Team United.
Gary and Williams are both guards at the next level, but they play big in United’s rotation. The majority of the backcourt minutes are allocated to a trio of juniors - Khalil Robinson, Cartier Jernigan and Jalen Barr. Robinson (247 3-star) is the highest-ranked and most productive of the three, chipping in per-game averages of 8.4 points, 3.1 assists and 2.3 rebounds. Robinson dishes out two assists for every turnover, and is a solid on-ball defender. Jernigan stars with Williams at West Charlotte during the winter, and the 6-foot-1 guard plays significant minutes for head coach Ed Cooke and company. Jernigan averaged 7.5 points, 2.1 assists and 1.9 rebounds for Team United during the regular season, shooting a solid 36.4% from the perimeter. Barr, a 6-foot-3 guard from Olympic (NC) high school, rounds out United’s crop of guards. Barr adds 4.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per contest, playing plus defense similar to his backcourt counterparts.
The frontcourt consists of Gary, Williams and three highly-serviceable role players. Caleb Stone-Carrawell (4.4 PPG, 2.3 RPG), Dallaz Corbitt (4.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG) and Nicholas Evtimov (4.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG) combine to average 12.9 points, 14.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists. All three juniors play significant minutes, and each one has bought into their specific skill-sets. Corbitt runs with Gary at Gray Collegiate (SC) during the high school season, and he does for Team United exactly what he does for the War Eagles; hustle and get rebounds. Corbitt is built like a truck and has athleticism for days, and will likely open some eyes at Peach Jam. Stone-Carrawell provides a versatile swingman capable of stretching the floor, while Evtimov is a true post player. The tallest member of United’s rotation standing at 6-foot-8, Evtimov showed major signs of progress during the EYBL regular season, and will be a crucial defensive presence for United on the interior. Charlotte’s EYBL representative will lose big man DJ Burns, as the 6-foot-9, 260 pound big man recently reclassified to the 2018 class and signed with Tennessee.
Team United will enter Peach Jam as the ultimate underdog, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s their first trip to grassroots basketball’s biggest event in six years, and it’s doubtful they’re going to let it pass them by without giving it their all. Gary and Williams are budding stars in their own right, but they’ll need a complete team effort in order to maintain competitiveness in Pool C. They hold a 2-7 record against Peach Jam contenders while losing to Houston Hoops, the only pool play opponent they faced in the regular season. They will be facing some of the best offensive teams in the circuit in Drive Nation, MOKAN, Houston Hoops and Seattle Rotary, so United’s ability to effectively defend will be tested. They have nothing to lose and in playing for ‘JaMo’, Team United will have some unique motivation as they look to rewrite the history books.