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Pittsburgh Jam Fest proves to be draw for players, coaches

| Thursday, April 21, 2016, 6:51 p.m.

With more than 400 participating AAU teams, the Hoop Group Pittsburgh Jam Fest will offer an opportunity to watch thousands of basketball players beginning Friday at David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown.

Many college coaches take advantage.

Sanctioned by the NCAA, Jam Fest last year attracted more than 200 college coaches who were interested in catching a glimpse of possible recruiting targets during one of two official evaluation periods.

Among players participating this year is Cormac Ryan, a 6-foot-5 guard who stars for the Middlesex (Mass.) Magic. A sophomore, Ryan already has received scholarship offers from Duquesne, Boston College, Rice and several Ivy League schools, and he is gaining interest from Virginia, Michigan and Northwestern, said his coach, Michael Crotty.

“He's an excellent ball handler and distributor and a tremendous shooter,” Crotty said. “He's the leader of our team.”

Ryan joins a prestigious group of players expected to participate. It's a list that includes 6-foot-9 junior Ejike Obinna (Uncommon Bulls), who's among the most highly regarded players appearing this weekend. He has offers from LSU, Miami, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Xavier and Cincinnati.

Other players to watch include 6-7 junior Chase Johnson (West Virginia Wildcats), who has offers from West Virginia and Duquesne; and 6-9 junior Nate Reuvers (Minnesota Fury), whose suitors include Wisconsin, Clemson, Creighton and Minnesota.

Previous Pittsburgh Jam participants include NBA players Kevin Durant, Karl Anthony-Towns, Kemba Walker and Jared Sullinger.

“The depth of talent coming in is going to be excellent,” said Crotty, whose program developed Notre Dame standout and current NBA player Pat Connaughton and Michigan sophomore Duncan Robinson. “Great players across all levels, and it's consolidated for the college coaches coming to watch.”

Entering its 11th year, Jam Fest added a new feature with the majority of games scheduled for 24 courts inside the convention center. Previously, the tournament was held at several locations across Pittsburgh.

“Having one primary location with 24 courts allows us to take the tournament to a new level,” said Dave Fedor, director of Hoop Group Team Tournaments.

The tournament concludes with championship games Sunday. Weekend passes cost $25 for adults and $12 for students. Admission on Friday and Sunday is $10 for adults and $5 for students. Admission on Saturday is $14 for adults and $8 for students.

John Harris is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jharris@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jharris_trib.

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