(Scott Phillips/NBCSports.com)

Elite Academic Showcase Recap: Nick Rakocevic steps up his play on opening night

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WAUKEGAN, IL — The July live evaluation period tipped off at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, and with it, came the Elite Academic Showcase in the far northern Chicago suburb of Waukegan.

Although the event wasn’t loaded with high-major names and top-ranked kids like the LeBron James Skills Academy, Reebok Breakout Classic and the adidas Unrivaled Camp — all of which will be covered by College Basketball Talk extensively this week — it did give college coaches a nice option to see some talented players on the opening night of the period before the adidas camp in Chicago tipped off on Thursday.

Although Class of 2016 forward Nick Rakocevic was clearly the best prospect and most talented player in the building, a lot of other players took advantage of the setting to play in front of the coaches and perform well. Among the coaches in the building included DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell and assistants from Indiana, Ohio State and Xavier. Davidson head coach Bob McKillop was also present and led a strong contingent of mid-major head coaches that included Loyola’s Porter Moser, UIC’s Howard Moore, and Northern Illinois’ Mark Montgomery.

Rakocevic proves worthy of top 100 ranking in 2016: The headliner of the one-day showcase was 6-foot-10 forward Nick Rakocevic. Coming in at No. 64 in Rivals.com’s Class of 2016 rankings, the forward from the suburbs of Chicago is the best prospect from Illinois in the 2016 class and he showcased his inside-outside game on Wednesday night. Rakocevic has the shooting touch and skill to play on the perimeter while also showing a willingness to mix it up a bit on the interior.

Rakocevic told NBCSports.com that he has scholarship offers from Creighton, Florida State, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Miami, Purdue, Wisconsin and Xavier while Duke, Florida, Michigan State, Ohio State and Oregon have been in touch.

After a busy July, that includes a stop at Peach Jam, Rakocevic is trying to take visits to Florida, Michigan State, Ohio State and Oregon.

DePaul shows Devin Gage is a priority recruit: Much has been made about Oliver Purnell recruiting the city of Chicago during his tenure at DePaul, but the head coach showed that recent Class of 2016 guard Devin Gage is a priority recruit on Wednesday by being the only high-major head coach in attendance at the Elite Academic Showcase.

The 6-foot-2 Gage was the point guard at Curie High School and played alongside future Kansas forward Cliff Alexander this past season, but the athletic floor general recently picked up his first high-major offer at the DePaul Team Camp in June.

Playing in front of Purnell and the other coaches in attendance, Gage attacked the basket and displayed his strong athleticism while also knocking in some jumpers from the perimeter.  Although his decision making needs some work, Gage has a lot of traits to work with going forward and he’ll be monitored by Midwest programs in July.

Gage told NBCSports.com that Bradley, DePaul, Hampton and UIC have offered him scholarships.

Davon Dillard starts July in a big way: As the No. 123 prospect in Rivals‘ 2015 rankings, 6-foot-5 wing Davon Dillard has a chance to play his way into more scholarship offers with a strong July.

At the Elite Academic Showcase on Wednesday, Dillard came out strong and displayed his high-level athleticism to go along with a developing skill set on the wing. Dillard can run a bit wild with the ball in his hands, but he has the athleticism and upside to play at the highest level if he can limit turnovers and make smart decisions.

Dillard told NBCSports.com that Creighton, Marquette, Oregon, Purdue, USC and Xavier have shown the most recent interest and he claims scholarship offers from Creighton, Marquette and Purdue.

VIDEO: Collin Sexton with a trick shot for the ages

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Earlier this summer, we told you the story of Collin Sexton, how the 6-foot-2 Georgia native went from being a mid-major recruit to a five-star prospect being courted by the likes of Kansas, Arizona, North Carolina and Villanova.

It’s because he’s a bucket-getter.

     RELATED: Making A Five Star

He averaged 31 points in the Nike EYBL circuit, nine points better than Michael Porter, who finished second in the league in scoring. No one puts points on the board like he does, so it’s only fitting that he was the guy that made a shot from the balcony during ‘The Trip’, Nike’s effort to keep kids associated with their brand from Elite 24:

Lonzo Ball struggled on UCLA’s Australian tour

Lonzo Ball (UCLA Athletics)
UCLA Athletics
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UCLA capped their three-game trip to Australia on Sunday night with a 94-91 win over the Brisbane Bullets, a game in which sophomore point guard Aaron Holiday finished with a team-high 17 points. Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton both added 16 points and freshman Ike Anigbogu finished with 13 points and 10 boards.

This win came just two days after the Bruins lost to Melbourne United, 89-84, when Hamilton — 18 points and five assists — and Holiday — 16 points — were both once again impressive. Alford also added 18 points in Friday’s loss.

It’s not surprising that the Bruins had some up and down performances abroad. Everyone does. It’s what happens when a team of college kids, with three freshmen playing key roles, heads to the other side of the world to square off against teams made up of professionals. Don’t go hanging the ‘Fire Steve Alford’ banners on anymore airplanes just yet.

There are, however, two interesting things to consider from this trip:

– Lonzo Ball, UCLA’s star freshman, was, at best, their fourth-best perimeter player. Seniors Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford and sophomore Aaron Holiday all played well and posted impressive numbers on the three-game trip. Ball? He didn’t shoot well. At all. In UCLA’s 47-point opening win, he was 3-for-9 from the floor and 1-for-3 from three, putting together was was by far his best shooting performance of the trip. In the three games, he shot a total of 25 percent (9-36) from the field and 19 percent (4-21) from three. He did average 5.0 assists and, in one game, notched 13 boards, but Ball’s ability to shoot will be something to keep an eye on.

– And then there’s this, from Bryce Alford:

UCLA needs to travel with more towels.

VIDEO: Mixtape for ton ten prospect Hamidou Diallo

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Hamidou Diallo is arguably the most in-demand scoring guard in the country.

He currently holds offers from Duke, Kentucky, Indiana and Louisville, among many others, and in the mixtape above, you can see why. He’s has explosive as any guard that has come through college basketball since Zach LaVine, which is why his mixtapes are so enjoyable to watch.

Plus, the beat that Ball Is Life uses here is sick.

LOS ANGELES, CA. JULY 26, 2016. The Academy. Hamidou Diallo #33 of Putnam Science Academy dunks. (Mandatory photo credit: Jon Lopez/Nike).
Jon Lopez/Nike

Former Michigan State star arrested for third time in four months

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Photo via Wayne County Prosecutor's Office
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For the third time since May, former Michigan State star Keith Appling has been arrested in an incident involving a loaded gun.

According to police, Appling was the driver of a car that was pulled over on Sunday night in Detroit. After an officer detected the scent of marijuana and requested Appling’s license, Appling rolled up his window sped off. He was stopped a short time later, but officers noticed that a Gucci bag that was in the back seat his car was missing. As they went over the route of the pursuit, they found the bag, which contained a loaded handgun and paperwork with Appling’s name on it.

In June, Appling was arrested when, during a traffic stop, he was in the back seat of a car where a handgun was found in the floorboard. That happened a month after he was arrested in the parking lot of a Dearborn, Michigan, strip club when a handgun and a loaded AK-47 were found in his car.

Tennessee football to honor Pat Summitt with helmet sticker

KNOXVILLE, TN - JULY 14:  Flower wreaths line the wall at Pat Summitt Plaza before the start of a ceremony to celebrate the life of former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt at the Thompson-Boling Arena on July 14, 2016 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Summitt died June 28 at the age of 64, five years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. (Photo by Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics - Pool/Getty Images)
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Tennessee’s football team will be wearing a commemorative sticker on their helmet this season to honor the late Pat Summitt.

Summitt coached the Lady Vols for nearly four decades, building the women’s basketball program into a goliath in the sport and simultaneously doing more than just about anyone to advance women’s athletics in this country while becoming the winningest Division I college coach of all-time.

“We’re excited about wearing a commemorative sticker on the back of our helmet to honor the late Pat Summitt,” football coach Butch Jones said. “We know everything she stands for. I think it’s very fitting that Tennessee football and Team 120 recognize her and everything she means to the University of Tennessee and state of Tennessee.”

The stickers will look like this:

Tennessee athletics
Tennessee athletics