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CBT Quotables, Part III: Ben Simmons, Josh Jackson and Diamond Stone

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Over the course of July’s live recruiting period, we at College Basketball Talk will be posting anonymous quotes from coaches about the prospects that they are watching and recruiting. With coverage from the EYBL Finals at the Nike Peach Jam and the UA Finals, the second open period of the month has provided coaches more opportunities to see their recruiting targets in competitive settings.

Here’s what the coaches had to say, with quotes cobbled together from a handful of conversations we had:

MOREQuotables Part I | Quotables Part IIAll our content from the 2014 July Live Recruiting Period

PF Ben Simmons, No. 1 2015: “He’s more of a four in college, but I think he’s a three in the pros. His vision is tremendous. No need for an outlet pass when he gets a defensive rebound, he takes it himself. Run offense through him, don’t let him just be a facilitator in college. He’s too good for that.”

SG Josh Jackson, No. 1 2016: “Josh Jackson is really talented, but I think three or four guys are better than him in 2016. He makes too many careless mistakes and takes too many bad shots to be the guy in that class.”

SF Jaylen Brown, No. 3 2015: “If Jaylen Brown is hitting shots from the perimeter, it’s over. Good luck stopping that dude in transition because he’s powerful and great with a full head of steam.”

C Diamond Stone, No. 6 2015: “Diamond Stone is tough to handle on the inside. And he’s a heck of a passer, too. He’s just settled into a routine, lately, of settling for too many jumpers.”

C Sedee Keita, No. 46 2016: “I saw him two years ago and said there’s no player there. I saw him last year and he was better. Now, you can see it coming. Needs to learn how to score, but he will be good.”

PF Tomas Murphy, 2017: “I just don’t think he’s gotten better in the last year. Players are catching up to him in size and he’s not dominating. Soft touch, decent post moves, needs to add strength and grow into his body. Think he’s closer to Alex than Erik.”

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.