Sports

XU commits smash at Peach Jam

Tyrell Ward and Kam Craft show promise, raise Xavier’s recruitment rankings

By Joe Laurich, Staff Writer

The Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) Peach Jam is regarded as one of the elite Amateur Athletic Union tournaments every summer. This summer was no different, as the tournament was filled with thrilling games and high-level performances from some of the most talented high school basketball players in the country. Two of those players, Tyrell Ward and Kam Craft, are currently committed to Xavier for the 2022-2023 school year.

Ward averaged 23.2 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game for the tournament, while also showing off his defensive prowess against highly-regarded prospects Dariq Whitehead and Shaedon Sharpe. Craft started off strong before slowing down a bit, but the wing averaged 16.5 points per game and 4.4 rebounds per game.

Craft has a reputation for being a knockdown shooter, and while he only shot 26.5% from three-point range during the Peach Jam, he’s been very solid from the perimeter all summer. The expectation holds that he’s one of the best shooters in his class. He’ll look to replace some of the shooting Xavier will be losing with Nate Johnson’s graduation when he arrives on campus next year. 

Ward is a 6’8 wing who can play point guard through power forward and defend all four of those positions as well. Ward is also a talented shooter, but he can make plays off the dribble and defend at a high level. 

The Field of 68 founder Rob Dauster was one of many who was impressed by Ward’s performance at the Peach Jam. 

“An athletic, 6’8 wing, Ward is a maniac, an uber-intense defensive menace that never cracked a smile or showed an ounce of emotion. He did that while winning head-to-head battles with five-stars Dariq Whitehead and Shaedon Sharpe while I watched,” Dauster wrote. 

Ward is currently ranked 49th in 247Sports 2021 composite rankings, but he could rise even higher with how strong his play has been this summer.

With Ward and Craft’s commitments, Xavier currently has the 12th best recruiting class in 2022, per 247Sports. That number is likely to fall as more players in the 2022 class commit elsewhere, but the two wings add to a history of strong recruiting under Travis Steele. The 2021 class targeted a clear need at the power forward or power center position with two Top 150 recruits in Cesare Edwards and Elijah Tucker, while the 2020 class brought in Colby Jones and Dwon Odom, who have both proved to impact players at the D1 level. 

Xavier looks to have another impressive recruiting class for the 2022-2023 season with Craft and Ward likely to be joined by a point guard and possibly another big man.