Team Takeover was the dominant team during the Nike EYBL regular season — going a perfect 16-0.
And on Sunday, the Washington, D.C.-based team capped their magical season by winning the prestigious Peach Jam championship, 96-78, over Russell Westbrook's Team Why Not? at the Riverview Park Activities Center in North Augusta, South Carolina.
Their raucous and plentiful fan base chanted "TTO" in the game's final minutes.
It was the second Nike EYBL and second Peach Jam title for Takeover and coach Keith Stevens, who previously won the title in 2010. Takeover also avenged their loss in the 2017 Peach Jam final to the Oakland Soldiers.
"We just fought hard all season," 6-foot-10 Takeover big man Armando Bacot, who joined Takeover midway through the EYBL season and had 14 points and 11 rebounds in the final, told ESPNU's Adam Finkelstein on air. "We played the best defense in the country. We played hardest and we played as a team, and it made a difference."
During a time when grassroots basketball is under attack from the Rice Commission, Takeover finished 23-1 during the Nike EYBL season, losing only to Nike Team Florida during pool play at Peach Jam.
"Grassroots basketball is a good thing," Bacot said. "As a team we all love each other and just off the court and on the court we learn so much about being young men and how to play hard and just winning at the end was the ultimate goal and we did it."
Bacot, who has lost 20 pounds by running two miles a day, is being courted by Duke, North Carolina, VCU, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma State, while Kentucky has reportedly shown interest of late.
In Saturday's semifinals, Takeover beat MoKan Elite 61-54 behind Bacot's 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Team Why Not? defeated the Oakland Soldiers, 67-64.
For the final, Westbrook sat courtside supporting and encouraging his team, which played its first year on the Nike circuit. Takeover alumnus Victor Oladipo also sat courtside cheering on his squad.
Reggie Morris coached Westbrook at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, CA, and Westbrook tapped Morris to run his AAU team.
Westbrook, meantime, continues to mentor and coach up his players, including class of 2019 guard Cassius Stanley, who is considering USC, UCLA, Arizona, Oregon, Kansas, and Texas.
"It's a blessing for all these kids to be here and have an opportunity to play somewhere other than their home town and it's fun to do," Westbrook told ESPNU's Jeff Borzello on air.
"The ultimate goal is to make sure these kids get to college, can take care of their families eventually and enjoy the game," Westbrook added.
Said Oladipo: "It's bigger than basketball at an event like Peach Jam. It's an opportunity for these young men to display their talent and get to another level . . . so it's pretty cool to be able to witness this."
Russell Westbrook coaching up his team at Peach Jam. https://t.co/nuueTLELyP— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) July 15, 2018
Takeover took a 37-31 halftime lead and then came out with a 1-3-1 in the second half and never looked back.
TTO is on fire. They lead by 16 with four minutes to go. pic.twitter.com/BV96wsaYEi— FloHoops (@FloHoops) July 15, 2018
If history is any indication, this year's Peach Jam featured several future NBA lottery picks, with Bacot, James Wiseman, Cole Anthony, Vernon Carey Jr., Isaiah Stewart, Jaden McDaniels, and N'Faly Dante among the top players on hand.
Twenty-two EYBL alumni were chosen in the first round of the NBA Draft this year, including nine of the top 10 picks, according to D1Circuit.com: Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Trae Young, Jaren Jackson Jr., Mohamed Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr., Collin Sexton, and Kevin Knox.
Eight of the top nine picks from this year's NBA Draft were @NikeEYB alumni: Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Trae Young, Jaren Jackson Jr., Mohamed Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr., Collin Sexton and Kevin Knox. pic.twitter.com/tQpfPw4zLE— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) July 15, 2018
Peach Jam Champions
New York Gauchos
Mean Streets Express
New York Gauchos
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