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Five-star wing Brandon Ingram elevates his play during July

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CHICAGO — July in the recruiting world is all about peaking at the right time. While the spring portion of the grassroots basketball season is big for dictating rankings and developing skills, July is the time when scholarships are earned and reputations are cemented.

Entering July, North Carolina native Brandon Ingram was already a top-25 national prospect in the 2015 class, but the 6-foot-8 small forward was still a question mark in the eyes of some coaches and scouts because of his sporadic play.

For Ingram, the upside and ability was there, but the lightbulb was flickering.

With a long and lanky frame and developing ball skills, Ingram would look great one game in the spring and look invisible in other games.

But at the adidas Unrivaled Camp in Chicago this week, Ingram has come out focused and aggressive. The No. 25 prospect, according to Rivals, outplayed the top small forward in the country, Jaylen Brown, in the opening game at camp on Thursday and has had a tremendous week at adidas so far.

“I think I played with a better motor than in early June and May and the spring. My spring was good, but I think I came out with a better motor today,” Ingram told NBCSports.com. “Getting used to my teammates, we’re communicating more and we just had a good game.”

MOREAll our content from the 2014 July Live Recruiting Period

The matchup against Brown, the No. 3 prospect in the class, was added motivation for Ingram. Although the two rarely guarded each other, it was still a chance for Ingram to showcase that he belonged in the conversation with his peers on the wing.

“Everybody wants to be No. 1, everybody wants that top ranking,” Ingram said. “It just gives me a little bit more drive to go at each and everybody. We’re always friends off the court, but when we get on the court, it’s business.”

Ingram even seems different in interviews from how he was this spring. His confidence is up and seems to have found what makes him a consistent impact player on the floor. Ingram maintained that the work he’s put in this spring is really paying off.

“Lot of things I talked about early in May when I was getting interviewed, I went back and I worked on it and I got better at it,” Ingram said.

Getting better for Ingram means two-a-day summer workouts with his Dad and consistently getting in the gym.

“I’m just waking up early in the morning and going to the gym with my Dad and go to work about 6 [a.m.],” Ingram said. “And then when he gets off of work we’re right back in there.”

College coaches are noticing the upside and ability that Ingram has to offer. Clemson, Duke, Florida, Louisville, North Carolina, NC State, VCU, and Wake Forest have offered scholarships while Kansas and Kentucky have made recent contact. During the week at adidas camp, multiple national championship-winning head coaches have watched Ingram play, including Coach K and Roy Williams on the side court at Quest Athletics on Friday afternoon.

“Kentucky has come on-board more,” Ingram said. “Seeing Coach Calipari out here, we actually had a phone call and he talked to me about three days ago. He’s just been doing a lot of research on me and he wanted to come out and see me.”

Ingram also acknowledged that Kansas was, “anxious to get out here and see me,” and even though the in-state North Carolina schools have been heavily involved, Ingram is open in the recruiting process.

“Same schools have been in the mix,” Ingram said. “I know there were rumors around that I was supposed to be narrowing my list at the end of last month, but it’s coming soon.”

POSTERIZED: Texas A&M-CC with an off-the-backboard dunk

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This is pretty nice from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, who has made a habit out of getting themselves on the highlight reel.

Here’s another angle of the dunk:

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me: