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Nike Global Challenge Recap: James Young earns MVP

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Michigan native James Young was terrific during Nike’s EYBL season.

A 6-foot-6 left-hander, Young proved himself an athletic slasher that could really shoot the ball from beyond the arc. But through three games at Nike’s Global Challenge, Young had struggled for the USA’s Midwest team. He was averaging 15.0 points, but shooting just 42% from the floor and 2-17 from three while committing 13 turnovers. The Midwest went 3-0 in pool play, but it wasn’t the result of a sterling performance from Young.

That changed in the title game, however.

Young finished with 29 points — including a flurry that saw him score 16 points in a six-minute stretch in the fourth quarter — on 12-23 shooting (5-10 from three) to lead the Midwest to a 100-86 win over Andrew Wiggins and Team Canada.

For observers (ahem, like me) that were questioning how a gunner that couldn’t shoot was so highly-regarded, Young did a fine job providing an answer. Everyone is allowed a couple off-nights in a row, and a glimpse of the kind of show that he can put on when he gets it going was enough to earn American MVP honors.

Some other top performers:

Troy Williams (19.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 5-13 3PT’s): Williams had a tough spring, but he showed off why every coach in the country wanted him back in March. He’s an incredible athlete, and standing 6-foot-6 with impressive lengths, he’s always been a highlight waiting to happen. The 38.5% shooting from beyond the arc was nice, though.

Wes Clark (11.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.7 apg): Young’s AAU teammate, Clark is currently one of the most underrated point guard prospects. He isn’t nationally ranked (which will change very soon), but with his athleticism, quickness, ability to penetrate and finish at the rim, and range on his jump shot, Clark should have a much higher-profile come August.

Nigel Williams-Goss (17.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.5 apg): Washington got a good one in Williams-Goss. He’s a solid facilitator that is one of the few kids that communicates well on the court. He didn’t shoot all that well, but he was able to penetrate. Had 24 points in his first game and went for 18 points, six assists, five boards and no turnovers in a dominating win over Brazil in the third-place game.

Andrew Wiggins (19.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg): Wiggins was clearly the best prospect at the event, but he didn’t play his best at this tournament. That’s what happens when defenses face-guard you.

Trey Lyles (21.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg): Lyles put on one of the most impressive performances, with 27 points and 11 boards in a win over USA East. The focus on Wiggins allowed Lyles to have space to shine.

Theo Pinson (15.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg): Pinson showed off a well-rounded game. He hit some threes, he threw down a couple of dunks, he made plays defensively, he penetrated and dished. What I liked the most was that Pinson made some big plays in the final minutes.

Nick King (18.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg): King is a Memphis native and another lefty that consistently was able to score around the paint. A 6-foot-7 slasher, King also showed off the ability to step out and knock down a three.

Bobby Portis (12.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg): Portis didn’t do much damage with his back to the basket, but he was active on the glass and ran the floor well.

Marcus Lee (12.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 3.0 bpg): Lee was very impressive. He showed off a soft touch around the basket, impressive athleticism and an ability to dominate around the rim. He blocked seven shots in one game.

Internationals:

Gao Shang (27.3 ppg, 42.5% 3PT’s): China was never competitive, but Shang was a guy that caught the eye of a lot of NBA scouts. He gave Troy Williams 26 points in a half and went for 35 twice.

Janus Tamulis (18.5 ppg): Tamulis was a good defender that was a streaky shooter. Scouts liked him, and the rumor was that he was considering coming to the States to play in college.

– Deryk Evandro Ramos (16.3 ppg, 3.5 apg, 50% 3PT’s): Ramos was a tough point guard that didn’t turn the ball over, defended well and proved a competent playmaker. One high major head coach said he thought Ramos could be the best point guard in the event as he watched him give Cat Barber 16 points and nine assists in Brazil’s win over USA East.

Derek Reese (20.0 ppg, 11.3 rpg): The Puerto Rican Tennessee-commit was one of the most productive players at the event.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

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Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.

 

 

 

Five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt cuts list to nine

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Five-star Class of 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the country since he was a freshman in high school.

The 6-foot-8 native of Houston is beginning to wind things down in the recruiting process as he cut his list to nine schools on Friday. Vanderbilt’s list includes some of the most storied programs in college basketball and plenty of schools from his home state of Texas.

“I just followed my heart. Went with the schools I liked the most and who I have the best relationships with. Thear were the schools I could see myself playing for,” Vanderbilt told NBCSports.com.

Regarded as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Rivals.com national rankings, Vanderbilt is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Vanderbilt will see a doctor in three-to-four weeks as he’s currently in a boot to help his foot heal.

Report: Michigan State and Penn State will play at the Palestra

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Head coach Patrick Chambers of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has previously expressed a desire to coach a game at the legendary Palestra in Philadelphia and it appears he’ll get his chance in a Big Ten game this season.

According to a report from Brendan F. Quinn of MLive, Penn State will use the Palestra as its home gym for the Jan. 7, 2017 Big Ten game against Michigan State. It is the only time the two teams are scheduled to play during Big Ten season and Penn’s home gym will offer a unique setting for the game.

Since the capacity of the Palestra is 8,722, it should make for a fun atmosphere for both programs since this will be a game both fan bases will likely want to attend.

With Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers making Philadelphia a major recruiting priority for his program, a game like this in Philadelphia makes sense while Michigan State has always been open to playing games in unique settings such as aircraft carriers.

The Palestra has been a college basketball mainstay since it was built in 1927 as it hosts all Penn home games and, in the past, hosted a lot of Big 5 Philadelphia college games between La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

Overall, a fun idea that should make for an interesting experience for both programs. It’s not often that a team will change its home venue for a conference game, but it could be the start of something we see other schools look to do.