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adidas Gauntlet Indianapolis Friday: Jaylen Brown explodes for 48 points

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INDIANAPOLIS — The second session of the adidas Gauntlet tipped off on Friday and the event featured a lot of high-level performances from top prospects. While the evening was highlighted by a tremendous matchup at guard between recent Arizona commit Justin Simon and electric 2016 guard Dennis Smith, Jr., it was five-star class of 2015 wing Jaylen Brown who stole the show on Friday night.

Playing with Game Elite, Brown went for a cool 48 points on Friday night in a win over Kansas Pray and Play. Scoring 48 points is always impressive, but it was the ruthless efficiency displayed by Rivals.com‘s No. 11 player in the class that made the performance special. The 6-foot-7 Brown was 15-for-22 from the field, 6-for-1o from three-point range and 12-for-13 from the free-throw line while also collecting eight rebounds and grabbing five steals.

Brown has always been able to get to the rack using his tremendous athleticism, but his jumper has improved a lot since the last time I saw him last summer.

After the game, Brown told NBCSports.com that some new schools have gotten involved this spring.

“Kentucky, UCLA — the whole staff from Kentucky and UCLA — Kansas and Ohio State. Those are the latest but everyone else is pretty much the same,” Brown said.

Brown also said he is very open in the recruiting process and wants to commit this summer.

Simon vs. Smith, Jr. highlights the nightcap: The most highly-anticipated Friday night matchup at the adidas Gauntlet was a matchup of top 25 guards as recent Arizona 2015 commit Justin Simon and Gamepoint matched up with Team Loaded (North Carolina) and 2016 guard Dennis Smith, Jr.

The game was delayed until after 10 p.m. thanks to a missed flight, but for the dozen or so people that were in attendance to watch this one, it was well worth the late start. Team Loaded landed the 73-71 win, but Simon and Smith, Jr. were both solid and had their moments.

The 6-foot-4 Simon is still more of a combo guard than point guard, but with his tremendous wingspan and feel for the game, he’s a matchup nightmare with the ball in his hands. Simon is the type of guard that is never idle with the ball and he doesn’t waste movements very often with the dribble. The California native’s jumper could get more consistent, but for now Simon is a really good all-around guard.

Smith, Jr. has burst onto the scene recently thanks to some ridiculous mixtape material and his tremendous vision and athleticism. Sometimes the sophomore guard tries too hard to make the flashy pass, but he has outstanding burst and is a complete terror in the open floor. Smith, Jr. also loves running high pick-and-rolls on the wings and creating for himself or others off of those types of sets.

Smith, Jr. told NBCSports.com that he has scholarship offers from Charlotte, Kansas, N.C. State, VCU and Wake Forest with recent interest this spring coming from Arizona, Duke, Louisville, Michigan and North Carolina.

Maker makes his mark: The largest crowd that I saw on Friday night was for class of 2016 five-star 7-footer Thon Maker, who ran with Team Loaded (Virginia). Maker was in the news this winter for some absurd mixtape comparisons that were sloppily made by writers and editors who had never seen him play, but make no mistake about it, Maker is a very talented prospect with a ton of upside.

Watching Maker get up and down the floor with ease is a sight to behold and he moves so quickly laterally and covers so much ground that he’s a nightmare on the defensive end. Maker led the Nike EYBL in blocks last season and is likely to do the same in the adidas Gauntlet thanks to his tremendous timing and quick burst off the floor.

One the offensive end, Maker is still getting a feel for who he is. He is better at establishing post position than he was in the past but Maker still needs to add strength and he also operated a lot from the left elbow. He’s also effective as a pick-and-pop option out past the three-point line and Maker can also put it on the floor a bit — although he needs to get stronger to avoid being stripped down low so often.

Once Maker adds some strength and learns to keep the ball high all the time, he could be a terrifying prospect. He finished with 22 points, five blocks and four rebounds in the win.

Four-star 2017 shooting guard commits to Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams celebrates a play in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Blacksburg, Va. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL STATIONS OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; LOCAL PRINT OUT (SALEM TIMES REGISTER; FINCASTLE HERALD; CHRISTIANSBURG NEWS MESSENGER; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL; MANDATORY CREDIT
Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP
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Recruiting, and on-court results, have picked up at Virginia Tech since Buzz Williams took over as head coach. In his second year at the helm the Hokies won ten conference games, and in reaching the Postseason NIT made their first postseason appearance since 2011.

Thursday night Virginia Tech landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2017, as four-star shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker made his pledge.

The 6-foot-5 Alexander-Walker, who’s ranked 91st in his class by Rivals.com, also took official visits to Maryland and USC before making his pledge to the ACC program. Alexander-Walker attends Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but as a native of Canada plays his grassroots basketball for the Canada Elite program on the Under Armour Association circuit.

Good with either hand, Alexander-Walker can play either on or off the basketball. And that versatility should serve him well in a system that places a high value on “switch-ables,” or players who can fill multiple roles.

The Canada connection paid off for Virginia Tech in the recruitment of Alexander-Walker, with assistant coach Jamie McNeilly being a native of the country himself and having a connection to the Walker family. The Hokies will lose two perimeter players at the end of the 2016-17 season in Devin Wilson and Seth Allen, which will give Alexander-Walker the opportunity to earn minutes as a freshman.

Oakland lands former Oklahoma State guard Clark

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When point guard Stevie Clark began his career at Oklahoma State in 2013, the Top 100 prospect was expected by many to be an impact player for the Cowboys. Things didn’t go as planned however, as off-court issues ultimately led to Clark’s dismissal from the program before his sophomore season. Add in a lawsuit filed by Clark in which he alleged that he was forced by the school to take psychotropic drugs, and it’s safe to say that his time in Stillwater was anything but smooth.

Clark ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, and on Thursday it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that he’s committed to Oakland University to play for head coach Greg Kampe. Clark joins a program with an immediate need at the point, with All-American Kahlil Felder having entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent as well.

The obvious question regarding Clark is whether or not he’s managed to take care of business off the court, and in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Free Press the Oklahoma native made note of the benefits of getting away from home for college.

Playing in Rochester, far from his home, will serve him well, he said.

“Anywhere away from home is the best thing,” Clark said. “It’s just hard balancing everything being close to home.”

Clark will be one of the options Kampe has to choose from at the point, with incoming freshmen Brailen Neely and Billy Thomas also among the new arrivals, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland looking to earn more playing time than the 5.6 minutes per contest he averaged as a freshman.

Creighton point guard Watson Jr. to return for senior season

Creighton's Maurice Watson Jr. (10) reacts after scoring during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Xavier in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Creighton won 70-56. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Creighton’s chances of moving up the Big East standings and returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014 improved a great deal Thursday, as starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. announced that he will be returning for his senior season. Watson, who began his college career at Boston University, entered his name into the NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent but decided that another year in Omaha would be best for him.

Watson was one of the most impactful transfers in the country last season, as his play at the point was a major factor in the Bluejays winning 20 games and going 9-9 in conference play after being picked to finish eighth in the Big East preseason poll. Watson averaged 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game last season, earning second team All-Big East honors.

With Watson’s return the Bluejays will welcome back three of their top four scorers from last season, with center Geoffrey Groselle being the lone departure. Head coach Greg McDermott adds a talented shooting guard in Marcus Foster, who sat out last season after transferring in from Kansas State. With Watson and Foster working together, Creighton will have a formidable perimeter tandem leading the way in 2016-17 with the likes of forward Cole Huff and guard Isaiah Zierden also being key contributors.

In addition to what Watson can provide in games he’ll also serve as a good mentor for Kaleb Joseph, who will have to sit out next season after transferring in from Syracuse. Joseph, who will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, fell out of the rotation as a sophomore so the year in residency should benefit him as he works towards grabbing the reins in 2017-18.

h/t ESPN.com

UConn, four-star 2017 big man Brown part ways

Brown, Zach
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Back in mid-January UConn made waves on the recruiting trail by securing a verbal commitment from 7-foot-1 center Zach Brown, a player seen by many as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2017. That partnership came to an end Thursday, as the two parties decided to part ways. News of the mutual decision was first reported by Scout.com.

The Miami native is currently ranked 28th in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, and Thursday’s news opens up a spot in the front court that UConn head coach Kevin Ollie and his staff will now have to fill. Amida Brimah, who’s currently going through the NBA pre-Draft process, will be a senior next season should he return to Storrs as will Kentan Facey.

Among the interior options who will have eligibility remaining beyond next season for the Huskies are sophomore Steven Enoch and incoming freshmen Mamadou Diarra and Juwan Durham.

UConn was in the running for 2016 power forward Taurean Thompson, but multiple outlets have the Brewster Academy product considering Michigan State (which added UNLV grad transfer Ben Carter Wednesday), Seton Hall and Syracuse at this point in his recruitment.

UCF lands commitment from transfer Terrell Allen

New UCF men's NCAA college basketball coach Johnny Dawkins speaks at his introductory press conference Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Orlando, Fla. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT
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Having already landed one transfer in former Michigan guard Aubrey Dawkins (the new head coach’s son), UCF landed a second Thursday afternoon as former Drexel guard Terrell Allen announced that he’ll finish out his college career playing for Johnny Dawkins.

Allen, a CAA All-Rookie Team selection in his lone season at Drexel, announced the news by way of his Twitter account. After sitting out the 2016-17 season per NCAA transfer rules, Allen will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

On a team that struggled throughout the 2015-16 season, winning just six games, Allen averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 32.5 minutes of action per game. The 6-foot-2 point guard finished the season ranked in the top ten in the CAA in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, with his assist tally ranking eighth and his A/T ratio of 1.9 placing him seventh.

With B.J. Taylor entering his junior season and Jeremy Carter-Sheppard joining the ranks this summer, the addition of Allen gives UCF another option at the point for the 2017-18 campaign.