Peach Jam begins for 23rd year in North Augusta with two new gyms
On June 11, a month before the start of the 2018 Peach Jam, North Augusta Mayor Bob Pettit and former Mayor Lark Jones cut the ribbon on two new gyms at Riverview Park Activities Center, bringing the total number of basketball courts at the facility to six. On Wednesday, the Peach Jam began with young basketball players from all over the country playing on those courts and vying to win the first place title at Nike’s Elite Young Basketball League (EYBL) finals. This year is the 23rd consecutive year the Peach Jam, the EYBL final tournament, has been held at Riverview Park.
Karl Waldhauer, superintendent of parks, recreation and tourism for the City of North Augusta, said people have really enjoyed the two new gyms and it has helped relieve some of the stress of the crowd.
“In the evening, it gave people more room to spread out and it’s certainly helped out a lot as far as calming the crowd down,” Waldhauer said.
Waldhauer said during some games, the walking track above the original four gyms can be shoulder-to-shoulder and can be three or four people deep.
Donna Alexander and Douglas Richardson are local residents who were making the rounds to each of the courts Thursday afternoon. Alexander said it was great to see North Augusta grow and have people from all over the country come to see the tournament. Alexander is from the area, but this is her first time at Peach Jam. Alexander said she is glad the City was able to build the two new gyms, both for tournaments and local players.
Rick Meyer, director of the City’s PRT department, said Wednesday night’s game was probably the biggest crowd the Peach Jam has seen yet.
Meyer said he heard four members of the 1992 Olympic “dream team” were at the tournament last night, naming Scottie Pippen and John Stockton as being in the crowds.
“If you’re a basketball fan, again, the talent level is – as always it’s the highest quality” Meyer said. “You look at any gym this morning, if you wonder about the talent level, you see Roy Williams (from UNC), Mike Krzyzewski (from Duke), you know, all the big name coaches, John Calipari from Kentucky, there were all here at nine o’clock this morning,” Meyer said.
“We’ve had a reality TV star in here, I haven’t seen him yet but I believe Dwayne Wade’s going to be here, his son’s playing; you just never know who’s going to walk in the door, it’s kind of neat,” Meyer said.
The Peach Jam continues through Sunday, when the top two teams will face off at 2 p.m.