July Live Period Week One Superlatives

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The first July Live Period came to an end on Sunday. We have writers at each of the three major events during the week, with Scott Phillips covering adidas Unrivaled, Raphielle Johnson covering the LeBron Camp and Rob Dauster at Reebok Breakout and The Showdown. Here are our week one superlatives:

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

  • Ben Simmons: “Simmons has the ability to take advantage of mismatches on the offensive end of the floor due to his versatile skill set. Defend him with a smaller, quicker player and he can go into the paint to score. Use a bigger, slower man and he can perform well out on the perimeter. And his defensive ability was solid as well throughout the week in Las Vegas.”- Rapheille Johnson
  • Brandon Ingram: “The five-star prospect from North Carolina scored the ball in a number of ways and played with more confidence and physicality than in the past. He went right at the top small forward in the country, Jaylen Brown, and showed no fear.” – Scott Phillips
  • Dwayne Bacon: “There aren’t many players in the Class of 2015 that can get buckets the way that Dwayne Bacon can get buckets. The 6-foot-6, five-star wing capped off his week with a 43-point performance over a team that includes Arizona-commit Justin Simon.” – RD

PLAYER THAT LEFT US WANTING MORE:

  • Diamond Stone: “To be fair, this is not entirely Stone’s fault. He got sick during the first half of his first game at the camp. But for a guy that is ranked as the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2015 by some outlets, I was disappointed that he only dominated at Reebok Camp for roughly eight minutes.” – RD
  • Carlton Bragg: “When you see how talented Bragg is, you just want him to stop taking the terrible shots and silly plays that occasionally plague his game. When Bragg hits his first jumper it can be a good or bad thing because Bragg either gets hot or starts settling. He has some horrific misses for a top-15 player.” – SP
  • Stephen Zimmerman: “I’ll preface this by stating that it can be easy for big men who don’t get the ball as often as they’d like to get frustrated in camp setting, drifting out onto the perimeter as a result. But even with Zimmerman’s ability to step out onto the perimeter at times, it was almost as if he was negating one of his biggest advantages (his height) over other big men. Maybe he’ll bounce back playing with more familiar teammates when the Oakland Soldiers take part in the Peach Jam.” – RJ

BEST PROSPECT:

  • Chase Jeter: “No disrespect to Jaylen Brown –another fantastic prospect — but Jeter continues to grow into a really good post prospect with a go-to move in his right hook. Jeter’s post defense and rebounding has started to improve throughout this year, as well.” – SP
  • Skal Labissiere: “Stone is probably the best prospect, per se, but I think Labissiere actually has a higher ceiling than Stone. The 6-foot-11 Haitian has huge hands, long arms, range to 19 feet and a soft touch on a righty jump hook. It’s a valuable skill to be able to dunk anything and everything around the rim. But I’ve yet to see him dominate comparable competition.” – RD
  • Ben Simmons: “Hard to pick anyone else for this spot, although there were other quality performers in Las Vegas. Ivan Rabb, Henry Ellenson, Jayson Tatum and 2017 guard Troy Brown all had their moments. But the pick here is Simmons.” – RJ

MOST UNDERRATED PROSPECT:

  • Horace Spencer: “I couldn’t love Horace Spencer’s game anymore than I do. He’s big, he’s athletic, he rebounds, he defends, he plays hard, he runs the floor, and he knocked down a couple jumpers this week. He’ll produce wherever he ends up.” – RD
  • Deng Adel: “When you consider Adel, now a Louisville commit, has been playing basketball in America for only a year, it becomes even more impressive to see the things he’s doing. He’s a high-motor, do-it-all wing with really good athleticism.” – SP
  • Aaron Falzon: “Listed as 6-foot-8, 214 at the camp, Falzon has the size of a player some programs would look to pigeonhole into the four spot. But his shooting ability from anywhere on the floor makes him a “mismatch” possibility at the college level. There was even talk at the camp of him being the best shooter in the class.” – RJ

SLEEPER OUTSIDE THE RIVALS TOP 150:

  • Grant Riller: “Loved what I saw from the 6-foot-2 guard from Orlando. He beat people off the dribble to the rim, hit a couple threes, split the defense on ball-screens and dunked all over one of the best athletes in the class of 2015, Chris Silva. Abilene Christian and Kennesaw State are his only offers right now.” – RD
  • Riley Welch: “A 2016 point guard from Colorado, Welch is the son of Brooklyn Nets assistant coach John Welch and was one of the adidas camp’s leaders in assists. With only interest from San Jose State and Denver, he’s being under-recruited and should have more teams calling soon.” – SP

Illinois lands important commitment from four-star Class of 2017 guard Mark Smith

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Illinois landed a very important Class of 2017 commitment on Wednesday as guard Mark Smith pledged to the Illini.

The 6-foot-4 Smith was previously a Missouri commit for baseball, but some issues with his arm caused him to look back into basketball last summer. A native of Edwardsville, in the St. Louis metro area, Smith came out of nowhere to win the Illinois Mr. Basketball award as a senior this season as he averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds while becoming a consensus national top-100 prospect.

Rivals rates Smith as the No. 52 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 as he could come in and earn immediate minutes at Illinois next season at either guard spot.

This is a very important commitment for head coach Brad Underwood and the Illini as the new head coach was able to hold off some elite programs like Kentucky and Michigan State for Smith’s services.

Northwestern gets commitment from Boston College transfer A.J. Turner

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Northwestern landed a transfer on Wednesday as former Boston College wing A.J. Turner pledged to the Wildcats, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-7 Turner just finished his sophomore season with the Golden Eagles as he averaged 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. A well-rounded wing who also shot 37 percent from three-point range, Turner will have to sit out one season due to NCAA transfer regulations before getting two more years of eligibility.

With Scottie Lindsay and Vic Law only having limited time left in Evanston, Turner provides a bit of insurance on the wing for the Wildcats for the future as he’s a proven rotation player coming from the ACC.

Oakland’s Greg Kampe hosting charity golf event with big-name coaches

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Oakland head coach Greg Kampe hosted a successful charity event for cancer research two years ago by allowing people to bid online to play a round of golf with some of college basketball’s best coaches.

Kampe is back again this year as he’s hoping to eventually raise $1 million for the American Cancer Society.

According to a report from Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press, Kampe has 11 high-profile names that fans can play with this year.

  • Tom Izzo, Michigan State
  • Frank Martin, South Carolina
  • Rick Barnes, Tennessee
  • Mick Cronin, Cincinnati
  • Chris Holtmann, Butler
  • Kevin Willard, Seton Hall
  • Greg Kampe, Oakland
  • Stan Van Gundy, Detroit Pistons
  • Steve Lavin
  • Fran Fraschilla
  • Bill Raftery

Fans can find more details about the auctions and all of the details here.

The minimum bid is $15,000 per coach. A “buy now” bid of $24,000 is also available.

Each round includes the following, according to the event’s website:

Up for auction will be 11 spectacular packages, featuring a private dinner with elite basketball coaches and VIPs, a one night stay at MotorCity Casino Hotel on Sunday, June 4, and an afternoon of golf on Monday, June 5 at Oakland Hills Country Club on the South Course. The winning bidders and their two guests will round out the foursomes with their selected VIP: Rick Barnes, Mick Cronin, Fran Fraschilla, Chris Holtmann, Tom Izzo, Greg Kampe, Steve Lavin, Frank Martin, Bill Raftery, Stan Van Gundy, or Kevin Willard.

There are a lot of great selections to choose from for this sort of thing, but I can’t imagine a better afternoon than playing golf with Bill Raftery and a few friends. There are some other tempting choices on this list, but that’s the one I would have to jump at.

If you think 137 players declaring for the draft is stupid, you’re probably stupid

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The NBA Draft’s full early entry list came out on Tuesday afternoon, and there were 137 underclassmen listed on it.

137.

For 60 spots in the NBA Draft, only 30 of which guarantee you a contract in the NBA.

And that’s before you factor in the 45 international players that also declared for the NBA Draft, as well as the crop of seniors — Josh Hart, Monte’ Morris, Jaron Blossomgame, Alec Peters — that are going to end up hearing their names called. All told, there are going to be roughly 200 players competing to be one of the 60 people that end up getting drafted on June 22nd, and you don’t have to be any good at math to realize that 200 is a much, much bigger number than 60.

This unleashed a torrent of bad takes on the decision of these players.

And bad may not be doing those takes justice.

Because the bottom-line is this: You cannot paint the decision on whether or not to go pro with a broad brush.

For some players, making money of any kind is something they need to do to support their family, whether it’s what they’ll get with a first round guarantee, the $75-100,000 they’ll get for making a training camp roster to subsidize their time in the D-League while teams develop them or the money they can make in the D-League or overseas. You don’t know what their financial situation is. Maximizing their ability to capitalize on every available dollar they can make off of their athletic gifts may be more important than working towards a degree.

And it’s worth noting here that a guaranteed contract isn’t the only way to make a living in professional basketball. To say nothing of the money that can be made overseas or the number of second round picks and undrafted players that make guaranteed money — which is more than you probably realize — it needs to be noted that D-League salaries are getting a bump this year with the new CBA.

The NBA has also instituted something new called a “two-way contract”. Without getting into the legalese, it’s essentially a retainer worth well into the six figures that they will be able to give to two players that will allow them to retain that player under contract while sending them between the D-League and the NBA roster. In a sense, it creates an extra 60 NBA roster spots for players that have 0-3 years worth of professional basketball on their résumé.

Some players are simply declaring without signing with an agent because they want to get feedback directly from NBA personnel on what their professional prospects. Some will hear that they need to return to school to work on their body, or work on their jumper, or mature as a person to be able to handle everything that comes with being a professional. Others will be told they’re going to make a lot of money by staying in the draft, or that they need to go back to school because, frankly, they are not professional basketball players. Not getting invited to the NBA combine is a pretty good indication of where you stand in the eyes of NBA teams.

Still other players are putting their name into the draft to leave their options open should they be recruited over by the program they are a part of. Take Frank Jackson, for example. If he can return to school and thrive as Duke’s point guard, maybe he turns into a top 20 pick. But what happens if Trevon Duval, the best point guard in the Class of 2017 and a top five pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, picks Duke? Would it be in Jackson’s best interest to come back to Duke when he won’t be playing the position that he needs to learn to play to turn himself into a lasting NBA player?

Jackson, like the roughly 100 underclassmen that have declared without an agent, has until May 24th to make his decision on whether or not he will keep his name in the draft. Until then, he can return to school without damaging his eligibility.

The entire reason that the NCAA changed their rules to allow players to test the waters is so that they can make the most important decision of their lives with as much information as humanly possible. This thing exists for the sole purpose of allowing the kids to have as much knowledge about their options as possible.

And that is exactly what these kids are doing.

So the idea that this rule, or players taking advantage of that rule, however high that number may be, is a bad thing is stupid.