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 Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.

Bettor wins $16,000 on UMBC wager

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The whole country became UMBC fans throughout Saturday night as the Retrievers attempted – and ultimately pulled off – the first-ever 16-over-1 upset in the NCAA tournament against Virginia.

There may have been one person at The Venetian in Las Vegas cheering a little more than most, though. They had a little more on the line. The moneyline, to be exact. 

One bettor won $16,000 on a $800 wager that UMBC would beat the Cavaliers, which is exactly what they did, 74-54, in Charlotte.

While the bet paid off this time and it makes for an all-time story, it’s probably best not to make this your betting strategy. If you would have bet 800 bucks on every 16 seed every year, you would have been $108,000 in the hole before getting your Retriever payout and riding a rough 135-bet losing streak. Can’t win without buying a ticket, though, right?

And it’s not like that the person who just cashed a $16,000 check cares about that at the moment. Also no word on how they’re betting UMBC against Kansas State, either. The Wildcats are 10.5-point favorites, if you were wondering. 

No. 2 Duke advances to Sweet 16 with easy win over Rhode Island

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Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter looked like men playing against boys on Saturday afternoon, as they combined for 35 points on 14-for-16 shooting to go along with 15 boards and four assists as No. 2-seed steam-rolled No. 7 Rhode Island, 87-62, to get to the Sweet 16.

They will take on the winner of Sunday’s second round game between No. 3 Michigan State and No. 11 Syracuse.

The truth of the matter is that this URI team is the one that is made up of grown-ups. Bagley and Carter are freshmen. The Rams are a veteran-laden team with fifth-year seniors and players that are leaving the South Kingstown after this school year with a degree and either a real job or a spot on a team outside of the glitz and the glamour of the NBA.

But that didn’t matter on Saturday afternoon.

The Rams tried to play four of those veteran guards together, using Stanford Robinson on Bagley in the post early on in the game, and it did not work. The problem is two-fold. On the one hand, putting someone that is 6-foot-4 on Bagley, who is a monster, is not an ideal situation, not when double-teams can’t work because Grayson Allen and Gary Trent are making shots.

But the bigger issue is that using that little guard doesn’t even earn you a mismatch on the other end of the floor. Since Duke is playing in this zone, Bagley doesn’t have to chase perimeter players around defensively. He doesn’t get put into ball-screens actions where he’s going to be asked to ice, or black, or switch. He just has to be big, athletic, active and take up space, and that’s something that he’s perfectly capable of doing.

What that means is that in order to be able to matchup effectively with this Blue Devil team with the way they are currently playing, you need to have two bigs that are capable of going post-up for post-up and box-out for box-out with the Blue Devils, or you need to have super-skilled front court players that will be able to dice up a zone with their ability to pass the ball while making Duke work on the other end in the paint. (Think UNC with Theo Pinson and Luke Maye.)

Let me put this another way.

Over the course of the nine days — from the start of the ACC tournament through the end of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament — what we have learned about the Blue Devils is that they are the toughest team in college basketball to matchup with, but if you have the pieces to matchup with them, they can be beaten.

But — and I ask you this in all sincerity — just how many teams are there in the country that have the players to matchup with them?

Could Isaac Haas play for Purdue despite a broken elbow?

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Maybe Isaac Haas college career isn’t over after all.

The Purdue 7-foot-2 center broke his elbow in the Boilermakers’ opening-round win over Cal State Fullerton, but isn’t ruling out continuing to play despite the injury.

Haas practice Saturday with Purdue with the aid of a brace and is hopeful that he could still be cleared.

Purdue coach Matt Painter downplayed the possibility that Haas would play, saying that “his future is too important.”

Certainly, Haas’ availability would be enormous for the Boilermakers not only because he’s averaging 14.7 points and 5.7 rebounds, but because he totally changes the game with his presence inside on both ends of the floor. Purdue has a capable reserve in Matt Haarms, but without Haas, Purdue’s Final Four chances seem dire.

Even if Haas is able to play, it remains to be seen how effective he can be with a busted elbow. It also sounds as though the brace he’s been outfitted with may need special clearance from the NCAA due to its composition.

For an NCAA tournament full of amazing storylines, Haas’ (potential) ability to play through a broke elbow might be among the most intriguing.

No. 1 Villanova makes 17 threes, routs No. 9 Alabama

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On paper, this matchup set up perfectly for No. 9-seed Alabama.

The Crimson Tide are the longest and most athletic team that No. 1 seed Villanova has faced off with in months. They entered the day as one of college basketball’s best at defending the three-point line. They have the kind of dynamic play maker at the point guard spot that can give Villanova fits in Collin Sexton.

All of the dots connected.

What I failed to mention there, however, is that Villanova has an uncanny ability to absolutely bury anyone in their path in an avalanche of threes, and that is precisely what happened to the Crimson Tide on Saturday afternoon.

Mikal Bridges, who scored just a single point in the first half, scored 16 of his 23 points in the first four minutes of the second half as Villanova took a game that was close for 20 minutes and turned it into a massacre. The Wildcats outscored Alabama 49-31 in the second half — a number that was limited as the Wildcats took their foot off the gas down the stretch — en route to an 81-58 win.

Villanova will advance to the Sweet 16 to face the winner of tomorrow’s game between No. 5 West Virginia and No. 13 Marshall.

Bridges led the way for Villanova on Saturday, but they may not have been in the position that they were in if it was not for Donte DiVincenzo. The redshirt sophomore caught fire in the first half, scored all 18 points his points and hitting five threes to put Villanova ahead by five at the break. Divincenzo also added five assists, his play-making a difference-maker with Jalen Brunson on the bench with a pair of early fouls.

And that should terrify everyone in the East Region.

Hell, that should be a statement to everyone in this tournament.

Villanova just de-pantsed one of the teams that best matched up with them, a team that has a lottery pick running the point and an NBA player and coach on the sideline. And they did it without much coming from their all-american point guard, the guy that was named the NBC Sports National Player of the Year.

Brunson finished with just 12 points and four assists, and honestly, did you even notice? This was the Bridges show in the second half when Villanova made their run. It was DiVincenzo’s show in the first half when Villanova needed someone to keep them close. We’ve seen Phil Booth take over games. (Anyone remember the 2016 national title game? He had 20.) Omari Spellman can pop off for 25 from time to time.

The Wildcats are just so dangerous.

And when they play like they did today, they are damn near unbeatable.

Police: Thief steals electronics from UNC basketball program

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Police say someone stole thousands of dollars in electronics from the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team locker room and office while they were away for the ACC tournament.

UNC-Chapel Hill campus police said on Twitter that the break-in happened at the Dean Smith Center on March 9, and they released images of a man they believe may have been involved.

A police report says the thief managed to get into the team locker room and basketball office without forced entry, according to The Herald-Sun.

The report says the thief stole a PlayStation 4, Xbox One and clothing worth $2,900 that belonged to the athletic department. Police say the thief also stole a laptop worth $1,200 and a financial document worth about $3,000 belonging to one of the players.