NORTH AUGUSTA, SC - La recent wave of coronavirus cases has shattered the Olympic hopes of dozens of athletes and sidelined Major League Baseball players like the Yankees' Aaron Judge last week, so it is perhaps predictable that a The delta variant that has thrived among the unvaccinated would pose a particular threat to the itinerant world of grassroots basketball youth.
The Peach Jam Tournament, the premier high school basketball showcase event that attracts the best nationwide each year - and team sponsors like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook - limp to the finish line on Sunday after players from at least five boys' teams test positive for the virus in recent days.
Among them are two o prominent players from New York: Kyle Filipowski, a 6-foot-11 forward who is heavily targeted by Duke and Kentucky, among otherses, and JJ Starling, a 6-foot-4 guard who considers Syracuse, Stanford, Alabama, Connecticut and Notre Dame among a long list of contenders.
L The disruption caused by new cases may be a glimpse of the challenge that awaits varsity sports in the fall. Even though many schools plan to welcome full football crowds again, reluctance to get vaccinated could provide an environment for the coronavirus to spread. Vaccination rates are lagging in the football-mad South, where officials like the Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey has stated that the season depends on vaccination of teams and their supporters. Alabama Coach Nick Saban even appeared in a on behalf of the local public health department , urging fans to get vaccinated.
Although vaccination rates are higher in the West, Washington State Coach Nick Rolovich said on Wednesday that he would not be traveling to Los Angeles for the Pac-12 Conference media day because he chose not to be vaccinated.
It is not known how many players have tested positive at Peach Jam. Tournament organizers have declined to make an official available for comment on Wednesday or to answer questions about the event. Scope of positive tests Three coaches said they were ordered by tournament officials not tocomment on the question.
The cases among the boys, who have been playing here since July 13, arose as the girls event started on Wednesday, increasing dramatically the number of players, parents and college scouts wandering the crowded hallways of Riverview Park Activities Center, a six-court complex.
Peach Jam, which was canceled last year due to pandemic, had banned fans from the event this year and required masks to be worn before entering the building. Still, a main court was packed Wednesday night to watch LeBron James Jr. , which is called Bronny, play a team with Emoni Bates , a much-vaunted forward from Michigan.
Girls 'and boys' teams, their families, the support staff and the NBA scouts crowded into the bleacher seats, far more spectators than they had seen James, who will be a high school student this fall, playing on Tuesday when wearing the mask was rarer. Anthony and Jonathan Kuminga, an expected lottery pick in N.B.A. of the next week. project, sitting next to the court in seats outside the stands. A security official toured the gymnasium on Wednesday evening, handing out masks and asking spectators to wear them. In some other Wednesday matches, players were asked to wear masks while on the bench.
The cThe 120,000-square-foot recreation hall could get even more packed on Friday when hundreds of male college coaches arrive for the last live recruiting weekend of the summer. (The NBA allowed its scouts to attend Peach Jam on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday - when male college coaches weren't allowed - to get a glimpse of players who could be in the 2023 draft.)
Adidas and Under Armor also sponsored youth basketball competitions this month, but these were spread across different sites over three weekends. ends. The Adidas event wrapped up last weekend in Omaha and the Under Armor tournament near Indianapolis wraps up this weekend. Instead, Nike has reduced its 2021 boys' summer travel season to a two-week window.
As a result, Peach Jam, unlike thevery tournaments, required players and coaches to submit coronavirus tests 72 hours before the start of the event and were tested daily, according to several parents and players. According to a participant who requested anonymity because tournament directors told them not to speak to reporters, if a team is due to play before 2 p.m. it is tested in the afternoon. If the game is to be played after 2 p.m., the players are tested in the morning.
Filipowski, who had been one of the better players here, is there One of four New York Rens members who were dismissed Wednesday due to positive tests, according to an official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the cases. Filipowski's twin brother Matthew, a 7-foot-1 center, played.
Starling's father, Patrick, said his son had been tested positive for the virus on Monday and initiallyt had headaches and fever. According to Patrick, none of J.J.'s teammates tested positive. Secluding in his hotel room, young Starling broadcast his team's Wednesday game on his phone, and his father provided orange juice and flu medication. Although J.J. 's feeling better, the Starlings may have to stay here until he can test negative in order to return home. His next test was scheduled for Friday.
"He's in pain not playing here " said Patrick. “He has been waiting for two years to be able to compete here. All of these players deserve to be here. This is the greatest opportunity of all. "