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Recruiting rundown: What’s on tap for grassroots summer circuit

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As school ends in many regions of the country, grassroots basketball, namely traveling team events and individual all-star showcases, will begin to permeate the landscape. There are three “live” periods which allow D-1 coach attendance in July this year, but that hasn’t stopped event operators from filling out nearly every weekend into August with events. The occasions which will draw the top high school basketball talent and most media attention this year are as follows:

Various events: Memorial Day Weekend
Nike and Under Armour are hosting flagship events for their sponsored teams in the Bay Area and Dallas, respectively, while many adidas teams are set for a tournament in Chicago.

Pangos All-American Camp (June 1-3, Long Beach, Calif.)
The early June event has established its credibility for attracting most of the top talent in the west, with ringers from across the country thrown in for good measure. Last year, the top two prep posts at the time, Isaiah Austin and Andre Drummond went head to head here.

NBPA Top 100 Camp (June 5-12, Charlottesville, Va.)
No shoe allegiances that are typical of summer basketball are at this event, as the organizers attempt to invite the literal top 100 players in the country to the NBA influenced camp. This year’s event could be missing a few big names due to USA U18 try-outs at the same time in Colorado Springs, but should be otherwise loaded.

FIBA U17 World Championships (June 29-July 8, Lithuania)
The core of the USA Basketball squad that won the FIBA Americas 16U tournament in Cancun last summer should be together for this event, which translates to top 2013 prospects Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon, star 2014 center Jahlil Okafor and more.

LeBron James Skills Academy (July 6-9, Las Vegas)
Moved from his former stomping grounds of Akron to Sin City to accommodate James’ obligations to the Olympic team, this camp features the top prospects from the Nike circuit and some of the best coaches and trainers in the business. This year’s event falls outside of the live period for coaches to attend, but should still provide valuable information to player evaluators.

Reebok Breakout Challenge (July 10-13, Philadelphia)
NBA player John Wall puts his stamp on this event, which is rare on the elite stage in that spots are selected from try-outs and tournament performances designated by Reebok. This all-star camp aims to expose underrated national talent but holding all-comers selection events.

Adidas Invitational (July 11-15, Indianapolis)
A large scale event that takes over the basketball rich metro region of Indianapolis, this tournament features the top teams sponsored by adidas.

Nike Global Challenge (July 12-15, Washington)
Formerly in Portland, Oregon, Nike typically has three teams of players from the United States playing against five teams from various other countries.

EYBL Finals at Nike Peach Jam (July 18-21, North Augusta, S.C)
Among summer basketball tournaments, the Peach Jam is one of a few events where you can guarantee seeing virtually every head coach from BCS conferences. The Peach Jam now functions as the “season-ending” tournament for teams sponsored by Nike.

UA Summer Jam (July 18-22, Mequon, Wis.)
The summer showcase event for Under Armour teams is being put on by Midwest tournament organizer NY2LASports. It will be in direct competition against the Peach Jam, but for certain will receive hundreds of D-1 coaches during the course of the event.

Adidas Super 64/Las Vegas Fab 48 (July 25-29, Las Vegas)
Competing tournaments ensure hundreds of miles are driven to far flung gyms in Sin City to see talent, as approaching a thousand teams with high school basketball players participate in the several age groups these tournaments boast.

AAU National Championship (July 26-29, Orlando)
While using “AAU” as shorthand for every team event in the summer has been common, there still is an actual organization that sponsors a national championship, and this event typically has some of the best teams in the country in attendance.

Adidas Nations (Aug. 2-6, Los Angeles)
The elite prospects in the adidas stable are put on to several teams, and face off against talented players selected from several countries and regions of the world in a usually very good event. This event functions as adidas’ counterpunch to Nike’s Global Challenge.

Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.

No. 22 Cincinnati’s loss to No. 16 Butler shines light on AAC’s struggles

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 10: Head coach Mick Cronin of the Cincinnati Bearcats reacts against the Butler Bulldogs in the first half of the game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on December 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
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Kelan Martin scored 20 points and Andrew Chrabascz added 12 points, four boards and five assists as No. 16 Butler bounced back from a tough loss at Indiana State to beat No. 22 Cincinnati, 75-65.

The Bulldogs had been undefeated on the season prior to the loss to the Sycamores, but their ranking was built on the fact that they had beaten Arizona, who was No. 8 at the time, as well as a trio of high-major programs that look destined for the NIT.

Cincinnati probably isn’t destined for the NIT. Their top 25 ranking is justified, which is what makes this win valuable. Quality non-conference wins matter, and this is just one of a handful of good wins for what has proven to be one of the most top-heavy conferences in the country. Villanova, Creighton, Xavier and Butler all look capable of reaching the Sweet 16 this season.

The opposite is true for Cincinnati, who look like the flag-bearer in a conference that isn’t really all that good. They’re the best team in the AAC this season, but that’s a conference that has consistently disappointed this year. SMU, Temple and UConn have all struggled more than we expected them to. Tulsa and Memphis are in rebuilding mode. Houston was supposed to be good this season but they’ve yet to live up to the preseason hype.

Think about it like this: The only team in the AAC without multiple losses on the season is now UCF. That’s … not ideal, and it’s going to be interesting to see just how many bids the league is able to generate.

Think about it. Temple has beaten West Virginia and Florida State while losing to New Hampshire and UMass. SMU’s best win is either Pitt or TCU, both of whom are borderline tournament teams. UConn beat Syracuse but has some atrocious losses on their resume. Houston beat Rhode Island but lost to Arkansas and LSU. Memphis beat Iowa, but Iowa’s not all that good. UCF’s best win is … Mississippi State?

Cincinnati’s lone quality win is at Iowa State, who is about to drop out of the top 25.

POSTERIZED: Wichita State’s Daishon Smith dunks on Oklahoma big man

WICHITA, KS - NOVEMBER 13:  Guard Daishon Smith of the Wichita State Shockers drives up court past forward Roschon Prince #23 of the Long Beach State 49ers during the first half on November 13, 2016 at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kansas.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
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Daishon Smith is 6-foot-1.

Kristian Doolittle is 6-foot-7.

The lil guy won this battle:

Here’s another angle of the dunk, which sent Wichita State’s bench into hysterics:

POSTERIZED: Duke’s Grayson Allen with a Dunk of the Year candidate (VIDEO)

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It looks like Grayson Allen’s toe is healthy. I’d say his explosivness is back:

Whoa.

Yeah.

POSTERIZED: Five-star Class of 2017 guard Trevon Duval dunks on 6’8″ defender

CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 9: Trevon Duval during the 2015  Under Armour All-America Basketball Camp on July 9, 2015 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
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Class of 2017 point guard Trevon Duval put down a huge poster dunk on a 6’8″ defender on Saturday as the five-star prospect showed why many consider him the top lead guard in high school basketball.

The 6-foot-2 Duval is considered the No. 3 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.

Nigel Hayes shines against as No. 17 Wisconsin beats Marquette

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 10:  Nigel Hayes #10 of the Wisconsin Badgers is fouled by Luke Fischer #40 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half of a game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on December 10, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images
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What a difference a year makes.

Last season at this time, Wisconsin dropped a home game to a Marquette team that was headed to the NIT.

This year?

The Badgers put six players in double-figures as they went into Milwaukee and knocked off Marquette, 93-84.

Bronson Koenig continued his hot shooting, finishing with 18 points and six assists while shooting 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. Vitto Brown chipped in with 15 points, Khalil Iverson had 16 and Ethan Happ chipped in with 11 despite battling foul trouble all afternoon.

But the really story here – hell, the story of Wisconsin’s season to date – has been the change in the way that Nigel Hayes plays.

Hayes was terrific again on Saturday. He had 17 points, nine boards, four assists and three steals. He shot 6-for-10 from the floor and attempted just a pair of threes, making one of them. He had the ball in his hands when Wisconsin was trying to kill off the game, and, more importantly, head coach Greg Gard has seem to start to take advantage of just how good Hayes can be as a facilitator.

There are a couple of points that need to be made here:

  1. When Hayes plays like this, he deserves to be in the all-american discussion. He’s averaging 18.0 points, 7.3 boards and 6.7 assists in the three games Wisconsin has played against high-major competition since the change, and the Badgers have won five straight games while playing easily their best basketball of the season.
  2. And it’s not just because of the numbers he puts up. When Hayes operates as Wisconsin’s de-facto point guard, it makes everyone else on the roster better. For starters, it allows Koenig to play off the ball, where he seems to be more effective. He’s at his best when he’s hunting shots and trying to create off the bounce, but his aggressiveness can be detrimental when he’s the only one touching the ball. It also means offense runs through Happ more often since Koenig isn’t dominating possession, and it lets guys like Brown space the floor because they’re actually able to get rhythm threes.

As of today, Wisconsin is the favorite to win the Big Ten, even if Indiana is far more likely to end up being a No. 1 seed in March.