adidas Unrivaled Day 1: Brandon Ingram gets the best of Jaylen Brown, Ray Smith hurts his knee

Leave a comment

CHICAGO — Although the inagural adidas Unrivaled camp began at the Quest Multiplex in Chicago a day after Reebok and LeBron on Thursday, there were still plenty of talented players and coaches on display throughout the day.

The camp has a nice setup for the players in which they do two hours of drills in the morning, break for lunch, play two sessions of games in the afternoon, break for dinner and then close out the evening with two more sessions of games.

With each player running in two games a day, and getting plenty of time to rest, legs hopefully won’t look as tired as a typical camp setting as adidas Unrivaled gets into the weekend.

Brandon Ingram shines in matchup with Jaylen Brown: Camp games opened on Thursday with an intriguing matchup of elite small forwards as North Carolina native Brandon Ingram and his team matched up against Georgia native Jaylen Brown and his squad.

The two top-25 Class of 2015 prospects rarely defended each other, but the long and lanky 6-foot-8 Ingram soundly outplayed the No. 3 ranked Brown as Ingram’s team won in a romp.

Playing in front of head coaches like Kentucky’s John Calipari, Florida’s Billy Donovan, North Carolina State’s Mark Gottfried and a host of other high-major assistant coaches, Ingram went 8-for-9 from the field as he confidently scored from all three levels of the floor.

Ingram especially did damage from the left side of the floor, as he scored through traffic, hit a mid-range jumper off of a curl and also knocked in a three-pointer. The knock on Ingram has always been his willingness to play with and against physicality, but a second-half post-up against a smaller opponent that led to a dunk was refreshing to see.

Brown, on the other hand, didn’t play well but he wasn’t exactly bad either. The 6-foot-7 power wing was 2-for-10 from the field with four turnovers, but he played an okay overall floor game that included getting his big men involved on post touches, making passes up the floor to push tempo and also operating out of the mid-post when he realized his shot wasn’t falling.

It didn’t help Brown’s cause that the rest of his team came out flat, either.

Ingram is the story, though. He’s playing with a lot of confidence right now and seems looser than he was in the spring. Ingram told NBCSports.com that Kentucky and Kansas have recently shown interest while Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Louisville also remain active with scholarship offers and interest. Ingram said he would like to see the campuses of the aforementioned schools and I’ll have more on his recruitment later.

Ray Smith goes down with a concerning knee injury: July was going to be a very big showcase for recent top-10 Class of 2015 small forward Ray Smith. The Las Vegas native recently vaulted into five-star status as the bluebloods of college basketball were trailing his every move in Chicago.

But the thoughts of college recruiting, and basketball in general, were put on hold during the night session of games on Thursday when the 6-foot-7 Smith went down untouched while clutching his knee.

While working an in-and-out dribble to go past a defender, Smith planted his foot and his knee just gave way as he lost the ball and instantly collapsed to the ground. The injury looked scary, and Smith had to be carried off the floor and into the back-room medical area, but adidas officials told NBCSports.com that they were cautiously optimistic that the injury wasn’t serious.

For his part, Smith took to Twitter to try to stay positive after the injury, but I would be surprised if he played at the rest of the Unrivaled camp.

You hate to see any player get hurt and hopefully Smith can get healthy and return to playing basketball soon.

Rick Pitino: Louisville ‘just ignored’ in top 25 due of scandal

Rick Pitino
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Leave a comment

Louisville beatdown Saint Louis at the Barclays Center on Sunday night, a 77-57 win that was much closer at halftime than the final score might indicate.

The win moved the Cardinals to 5-0 on the season, and that, in turn, got Louisville into the back end of both top 25 polls.

They’re 24th in the AP Poll and 22nd in the Coaches Poll, but that happened on Monday morning. On Sunday night, Pitino made sure to get a rant in about how this team is viewed and why pundits and voters should overlook the scandal currently plaguing his program.

“I think people are looking at that and they’re not really studying the team,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, adding that he thinks the team is “just ignored” because of the accusations leveled by self-described madam Katina Powell in the book she published back in October.

And here’s the thing: he is 100 percent correct. Louisville was overlooked in the preseason because the scandal, when combined with the fact that the Cardinals are integrating so many new pieces into their rotation, made it tough to see how they would be able to compete at a level that we’ve come to expect out of Louisville teams.

I know that because it’s why my colleagues at NBCSports.com, against my wishes, refused to allow me to rank Louisville in the preseason top 25. In other words, I’ve had first-hand interactions with the haters. But if we’re going to be honest here, scandal or no scandal, Louisville probably wasn’t going to find their way into the preseason top 25, not when they had to replace Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell.

And scandal or no scandal, no team from outside the top 25 is going to play their way into the top 25 by beating the likes of North Florida and St. Francis (NY) without some shenanigans — like Fred VanVleet getting hurt, like Indiana collapsing, like Arizona and Cal and Notre Dame playing their way out of the top 20 — happening around the country.

So Pitino is right: the scandal probably did have an impact on how his team was viewed in the preseason.

But Pitino the scandal isn’t what kept them out of the top 25 until Monday.

That weak non-conference schedule and roster turnover was why.

And if we’re going to be honest here, it probably should have kept them out for another week.

Brooks’ big game leads No. 15 Oregon over Fresno State 78-73

Dillon Brooks, Torren Jones
AP Photo/Chris Pietsch
Leave a comment

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Dillon Brooks had 21 points and 10 rebounds and No. 15 Oregon staved off a late rally by Fresno State for a 78-73 victory Monday night.

Chris Boucher and Elgin Cook added 14 points each for the Ducks (6-0), who led 70-52 with 6:35 to play before Marvelle Harris scored 13 points in a 16-2 run by the Bulldogs (5-1) that cut the deficit to four.

A driving layup by Brooks put Oregon up 74-68 with 1:20 left, and the Ducks held on by making four of six free throws in the final 45 seconds.

Harris, who didn’t score until the 12:04 mark of the second half, led Fresno State with 18 points, while Paul Watson added 11 and Torren Jones had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle 41-32 behind Jones and Karachi Edo, who had nine rebounds and 10 points.

Freshman Tyler Dorsey, Oregon’s leading scorer at 15.2 points per game, finished with 12.

The Ducks scored the game’s first 11 points, went up by as many as 14 and took a 37-25 halftime lead. The Ducks did most of the damage from inside the 3-point arc (9 of 10) and at the free throw line, outscoring the Bulldogs 13-5.

Fresno State, meanwhile, missed its first six shots from the field, shot 29.0 percent (9 of 31) and saw its top two scorers, Harris and Cezar Guerrero, held scoreless for the first 20 minutes.

The senior guards came in averaging 20.2 and 13.2 points per game, respectively.


Fresno State: Harris, the preseason choice for Mountain West Conference player of the year, needed one point to crack the Bulldog’s all-time top 10 in scoring. After going scoreless in the first half, he finished with 18 to rank 10th with 1,425, one behind Tod Bernard in ninth place, in 107 career games. . The Bulldogs fell to 2-10 all-time against Oregon. They last time they beat the Ducks, who have won the last five meetings, was in 1995. . Fresno State hasn’t beaten a Top 25 team on the road since 2000.

Oregon: The double-double was the second of the season Brooks and fourth of his career. . The Ducks are 40-2 against nonconference opponents since moving into Matthew Knight Arena five years ago. . The 6-0 start is Oregon’s second in the last nine years. The Ducks started 13-0 two seasons ago.