Texas forward Myles Turner among NBPA Top 100 Camp top performers

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The 20th anniversary of the NBA Player’s Association Top 100 Camp kicked off this week as many of the nation’s best high school players came together at the University of Virginia for skill development, games and mentoring sessions from current and former NBA players and other trained professionals.

USA Basketball obligations drew away some of the top players from this year’s camp, but there were still many players that proved themselves among their peers with solid play throughout the weekend. If starting five of the top players at each position were put together, many who attended the camp would start with Myles Turner.

Turner was the main story from this year’s NBPA Top 100 Camp. While Turner wasn’t the dominant player of the event — that distinction didn’t really go to anybody through the two days NBC Sports attended — he was one of the most talked-about players, and might end up as the camp’s top overall prospect among national rankings when it’s all said and done for the 2014 class.

The 6-11 forward from Texas already has a long list of high-major suitors, including most of the Big 12, but he proved to be a potential top 10 player in the 2014 class with his tremendous skills and ability to block shots. Turner’s jumper looks pure from even beyond the three-point line and in multiple games, he showed tremendous footwork and post skills as well.

After drawing rave reviews at the Pangos All-American Camp earlier this month in Southern California, Colorado-native Josh Perkins proved to be worthy of the hype. The 6-2 Perkins is one of the best passing guards in high school basketball and has court vision that would make many college guards envious. Perkins is a member of the 2014 class and makes other guys on his team better and sets them up for easy scores. In a camp environment when teammates that are unfamiliar come together, this trait is especially noticeable. His stock is on the rise nationally and it’s clear he’s one of the nation’s top point guards.

Milwaukee-native and 6-9 forward Kevon Looney has been in the national top-10 for much of his high school career and he didn’t disappoint with his play during the camp. Some media members cited Looney as the event’s top player during Thursday’s opening day and the forward with a Kevin Durant-type of build rebounds the ball very well and is a terror when operating off-the-dribble from the high post.

When it came to scoring, not many were stopping Isaiah Whitehead and his ability to score from nearly anywhere on the floor. Lincoln High School in New York has already produced famous alums like Sebastian Telfair and Lance Stephenson and Whitehead is the next big thing from the traditional basketball power. The 6-4 shooting guard plays aggressively at all times and while he can score using the jumper or attacking the hoop, he can also find teammates using his passing ability.

Rounding out the starting five for the event is North Carolina commit and Houston-area native Justin Jackson. Jackson is a wiry 6-8 small forward, but he’s skilled enough to pass and handle while also having a deadly mid-range game. Jackson can knock in floaters, runners and spin jumpers from the mid-range and scored in double figures in each of his games the first two days of the camp — an impressive feat considering the limited playing time and running clocks.

NBC Sports will have more on the NBPA Top 100 Camp throughout the week including recruiting updates on some of the camp’s best players.

Michigan State playing zone? It’s possible

Tom Izzo
Associated Press
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Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.

According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.

That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.

“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”

As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.

Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.

Virginia used 3-on-3 to adjust to new shot clock

Malcolm Brogdon
Associated Press
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When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.

Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.

Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.

While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.

“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”

Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.