PJ Eason had a chance to get his face in front of some top college coaches on Saturday as part of the first-ever AHSAA Elite 100 boys basketball showcase. The top 100 players in the state were invited to participate in the camp in Hoover with more than 40 college coaches from across the country also present.
Eason was one of 30 upcoming juniors at the event, and he said it was a great learning experience.
“I’ve been meeting a lot of good players and learning a lot of new skills,” Eason said. “This is a big learning experience. It’s telling me that if I keep working hard, I can go somewhere far.”
The camp started by separating the players into 12 different teams before warming up with drills during the morning period. The workouts included drills for passing, ball handling, shooting and defending.
A majority of the middle part of the camp was spent doing 3-on-3 drills where Eason got to play with the likes of Lindsay Lane’s Tommy Murr and Mae Jemison’s Tony Toney, two standouts from the event.
“We’ve worked on a lot,” Eason said. “I’ve learned how to pass the ball better and getting more players involved. And I’ve worked on defense a lot.”
Eason said it was a blessing to get to play with some of the state’s best talent and he said he learned a lot from the experience. Prior to the 5-on-5 scrimmages starting in the afternoon, Eason said he was pleased with his performance so far.
“I think I’ve played pretty well,” Eason said. “I have been a little more passive though. I want to talk and communicate with my teammates and work on getting them involved more. I want to step up and be a leader.”
Those are the same attributes Eason said he wants to talk back to Dadeville when he returns to working with his Tigers during the school year. He said he wanted to continue to play well at the showcase but his priority was to be ready for the high school season.
Eason got to play in front of several coaches from Division I schools, including Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl and Alabama assistant coach Antoine Pettway. Other schools from across the country were represented, including Belmont, Mississippi State, Troy and VCU.
“I was a little nervous at first but you get used to it,” Eason said. “You just have to play like you’ve been doing it all your life and play hard.”
Eason got much of his exposure at the event during the full-court games in the gym where a majority of the college coaches were located. Eason showed off a variety of skills during the game, most noticeably his rebounding and defense.
“We just have to keep playing good,” Eason said. “I don’t even want to notice that they’re there so just have to keep playing the way that got me here.”
While Eason was not focused on the coaches at the camp, each coach was focused on the play on the court and every good play helped the Dadeville star stand out a little more. Eason may not have been on the top of the list for the coaches who made the trip to Hoover but with two more seasons remaining in his high school career, Eason just cherished the opportunity to be in attendance.
“This has all been great,” Eason said. “Everybody is good so everyone wants to play their best.”