Five-star 2016 point guard Dennis Smith, Jr. is the next great guard out of North Carolina

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INDIANAPOLIS — Dennis Smith, Jr. has recently made waves on the national recruiting scene thanks to his tremendous play in the adidas Gauntlet.

The 6-foot-2 Smith is regarded by Rivals.com as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2016 national rankings, but his recruitment was still rather quiet for a five-star prospect heading into the spring.

That’s all changed in the last few weeks, however, as Smith had a great weekend at the Dallas stop of the Gauntlet during the live period in front of college coaches.

RELATED: adidas Gauntlet Friday: Jaylen Brown goes for 48 points

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

With explosive athleticism, good court vision and an ability to get in the lane at will, Smith has drawn comparisons to past North Carolina natives like John Wall and Rodney Purvis. Smith told NBCSports.com that he’s spoken with both guards before.

“I know both of them, actually, and they both know me,” Smith said. “I’ve known them a couple months, like six months. It was around October when I met (Purvis). I haven’t met (Wall) I talk to him a little bit. Texting with him.”

On Friday, Smith matched up with another top-25 guard as his Team Loaded (North Carolina) squad faced recent Arizona commit and 2015 guard Justin Simon.

Smith stuffed the stat sheet in the 73-71 win as he scored 14 points, grabbed six rebounds and had six blocks and six steals to go along with four assists. If there’s one major fault with Smith’s game — at the moment — it’s his propensity to try too hard to make a flashy pass and it helped lead to four turnovers in the game.

“It’s great; I get to measure myself up against him,” Smith said of facing Simon. “Obviously since he’s already committed he’s going to play at the next level so it’s good to measure my game up to his.”

RELATED: adidas Gauntlet Saturday: Chase Jeter shows steady improvement

Although Smith has faced players like Simon and has been compared to Wall and Purvis, thanks to geography, he looks up to a couple of other guards when modeling his game.

“I watch a lot (of basketball),” Smith said. “In the NBA I watch a lot of (Russell) Westbrook and Damian Lillard. In college I watch a lot of Kasey Hill.

“Damian Lillard, he’s really good off the pick-and-roll and he can shoot pretty good. Kasey Hill, he gets his teammates involved pretty well. Westbrook, he’s super explosive and he plays hard every play.”

RELATED: Five-star Jaylen Brown wants to end recruitment this summer

Recruiting is starting to pick up for Smith and he’s most receptive to hearing from two SEC powerhouses that have yet to get in touch.

“I’ve heard from just about every school except Kentucky and Florida. Those two schools are ones I would be looking forward to hearing from,” Smith said.

Those programs — and others — will have plenty of time to recruit Smith as he’s still very early in the process.

“I probably won’t be making a list until the middle of my junior year,” Smith said.

Sex assault count dropped against ex-Creighton player Watson

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Prosecutors have dropped a first-degree sexual assault charge against former Creighton point guard Maurice Watson after questions arose about the accuser’s story.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine announced Friday that his office had dropped the felony charge, filed earlier this year when a 19-year-old woman accused Watson of assaulting her early Feb. 4 at a party in an Omaha home. Watson has denied that allegation.

The 24-year-old Watson pleaded no contest Friday to misdemeanor assault for an encounter the same night with a different Creighton student, who said Watson touched her thigh and tried to make her touch his genitals. Watson was sentenced to the five days he’d already served in jail.

Watson was a senior when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in January, just days before the party.

Storm damage forces Paradise Jam out of Virgin Islands

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MIAMI (AP) — The Paradise Jam basketball tournament will not be played in the U.S. Virgin Islands this year because of damage caused by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

The tournament will be played in the U.S., with a new site expected to be announced by Sept. 29.

The Paradise Jam field this year includes Wake Forest, Colorado, Drake, Drexel, Houston, Liberty, Mercer and Quinnipiac, and each of those schools was given the chance to bid for the right to host the tournament.

Tournament officials say they looked at multiple other options, such as moving to another island and using a cruise ship for accommodations, before deciding to move the event to the U.S.

For now, the tournament is scheduled to be played from Nov. 17-20.

Kentucky lands commitment from five-star point guard

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Kentucky landed a commitment from Immanuel Quickley on Friday night, a top ten prospect and arguably the best point guard in the Class of 2018.

Quickley picked the Wildcats over Kansas, who he visited earlier this month, and Miami, who he was scheduled to visit before Hurricane Irma struck south Florida.

The 6-foot-3 point guard is the first commitment in the class of head coach John Calipari, and it really comes as no surprise. He’s been considered a Kentucky lean for months, and Quickley played for Calipari on the USA U19 team during the 2017 FIBA World Cup.

While Quickley has the size and the build – he’s 180 pounds with broad shoulders and long arms – of some of Kentucky’s former elite point guards, he’s not the same kind of point guard as, say, De’Aaron Fox or John Wall. He’s more of a smooth athlete than an explosive one, and while his long strides allow him to get out into transition, he’s not the finisher at the rim that those two were. What he is, however, is an intelligent player. He’s good in ball-screens, he’s an excellent passer and facilitator and he is a good enough shooter that he forces defenses to stay honest. He also has the potential to be a plus defender given his physical tools and the fact that he’ll try on that end of the floor.

Where this commitment gets interesting is the current point guard in Kentucky’s back court, Quade Green. Green was a five-star recruit in his own right, but he’s not quite built as a potential one-and-done prospect. Calipari has maneuvered through two point guards in the past, and each of the last five national champions have played major minutes with two point guards on the floor at the same time, but if Green is back next season that will be something to monitor.

That, however, is a long ways away.

What matters now is that Kentucky has gotten this commitment out of the way, and it paves the way for them to also receive a commitment from Zion Williamson. There has long been talk of those two attending college together, and with Quickley on the board, that likely keeps Kentucky in the driver’s seat as they pursue the South Carolina native.

If Kentucky can also wrangle a commitment out of R.J. Barrett, the No. 1 player in the 2018 recruiting class, that would likely be the end of the discussion of whether or not Duke has surpassed the Wildcats on the recruiting trail.

Five-star forward King picks Oregon

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Oregon has nabbed one of the top players in the 2018 class.

Louis King, a top-20 forward, committed to Dana Altman and the Ducks on Thursday via a video on social media.

“It’s been a tough, strenuous process,” King said, “but today makes all of that worth it. I’ve been blessed with great opportunities.”

The 6-foot-8 New Jersey native selected Oregon over other finalists Seton Hall, NC State, Purdue and Kansas.

“I would like to thank each of them for all the time and effort they put into my recruitment,” King said. “I would like to thank my coaches and my teammates that have pushed me and helped get me to this point in my career. My friends for all their love and support, but most of all I would like to thank my family, who has been by my side through it all.”

King is Altman’s second commit in 2018, joining four-star big man Miles Norris, a top-75 recruit in the class. It’s the beginning of what could be an absolutely dynamic class for Oregon, which still has two scholarships remaining.

“Out of all of my schools I felt like it was best for me and my family,” King said to MADE Hoops. “Coach Altman said that I would have the ball in my hands throughout the season. When I get there, it will be an easy adjustment for me with how I handle rock and get my teammates open. Our goal is to win a national championship next year.”

 

Four-star forward Miller Kopp commits to Northwestern

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Northwestern has a second four-star recruit in its 2018 class.

The Wildcats received a commitment from Miller Kopp, a 6-foot-6 forward, on Thursday, he announced via social media.

“I built a really strong relationship with (coach) Chris Collins and I fell in love with the campus,” Kopp told Scout. “I knew it would be a nice campus and have that stuff, but I think me and him are wired the same way. II think that his personality fits mine and I think we complement each other. I’m definitely excited to be able to go to a program on the rise and be able to make some history.”

Kopp picked the Wildcats over offers from Georgetown, Butler, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. The Houston native is ranked in the top-100 of his class by most recruiting services.

He gives Collins and the Wildcats an exceedingly strong 2018 class, which already featured four-star guard Pete Nance of Ohio along with three-star recruits Jordan Lathon and Ryan Young. It represents a major leap forward for Northwestern. It would appear that the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament appearance last March has brought momentum to the recruiting trail.