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UAA The Finals Thursday Recap: Josh Jackson vs. Jaylen Brown highlights the day

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SUWANEE, Ga. — The highlight of Thursday’s action at the Under Armour Association’s final summer tournament, The Finals, was a matchup between Jaylen Brown, the No. 3 recruit in the Class of 2015, and Josh Jackson, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2016.

The gym was packed with coaches to see a battle between arguably the two best wings in high school basketball regardless of age group, and the pair did not fail to disappoint.

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Kelly Kline/Under Armour

Brown was on fire early, hitting four catch-and-shoot threes from four different spots on the floor in the first half, finishing with 18 points as his Game Elite team jumped out to a big lead over Jackson’s 1 Nation squad. It was clear early on that Jackson was pressing — his team did not have as much talent on the roster as Brown’s — and it manifested himself as tough shots, quick threes and an early benching.

Late in the first half, Jackson began to assert his will on the game. He made a handful of beautiful passes in transition, he started making his presence felt on the glass and he even had a LeBron-esque chasedown block. In the end, Brown won the scoring battle — he finished with 26 points while Jackson had 14 — but Jackson’s team got the win in the end as Jackson played a better overall game in the second half.

It was an odd way for things to end. Jackson is generally known as the better perimeter scorer, a smooth athlete that can get buckets at all three levels while finding assists and contributing on the glass. He did most of his damage in the paint on Thursday, while Brown — whose reputation is of that as a more physical, interior player developing his perimeter game — did most of his damage from beyond the arc.

At the end of the day, both Brown and Jackson did exactly what the AAU trail is designed for: they both played well in front of coaches like Roy Williams, John Calipari, Bill Self, Mark Fox and Steve Alford.

Keep an eye on Darius Perry: While the stars of the show were Brown and Jackson — and to a lesser extent Stanford commit Marcus Sheffield and Pitt commit Damon Wilson — 2017 shooting guard Darius Perry proved himself to be a name to be watched. He knocked down a trio of catch-and-shoot threes, two from well-beyond the three-point line, and also hit a mid-range pull-up jumper from the foul line.

Diamond Stone also plays well: I caught Stone’s final game of the day, as he squared off with Penn State-commit Mike Watkins and put together the most impressive performance that I have seen from the big man to date. He knocked down a couple of trail-threes from the top of the key, make a couple of plays around the rim and had one startling crossover that led to a dunk over Watkins in a half-court possession.

Stone, who is ranked No. 6 in the Class of 2015 by Rivals, did not have an overly impressive performance in Philly last week for the Breakout Classic, but certainly made his presence known on Thursday. The Wisconsin-native has made a point to try and show off his perimeter ability this July, which is frustrating and promising at the same time: he does appear to be getting better with his ability to shoot the ball and face opponents up, but his biggest strength still lies in his back-to-the-basket game.

But hey, that’s really what AAU basketball is for, a chance for kids to try out moves they have been working on in games that, in all reality, don’t matter.

Chance Comanche vs. Doral Moore fizzles: The other elite big man matchup of Thursday came between Doral Moore, No. 38 in the Class of 2015, and Chance Comanche, No. 21 in the same class. Moore is the more physically imposing center of the two, but he has limited post moves and a motor that leaves much to be desired. He did show off his overwhelming ceiling with a massive dunk over Comanche in the second half.

To be fair, Comanche did not play all that well himself. He’s got a decent ability to finish in the post, a solid 15-footer and the length and athleticism to finish above the rim, particularly in transition, but he needs to add strength. He was a bit overwhelmed by the size of Moore and his front court mate, Tim Rowe.

Michigan’s Spike Albrecht to finish his career at rival Big Ten program

Michigan guard Spike Albrecht (2) makes a layup between Northern Michigan forward Brett Branstrom, top left, and center Vejas Grazulis (52) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Michigan won 70-44. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
(AP Photo/Tony Ding)
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Spike Albrecht’s career isn’t over, as the former Michigan point guard and graduate transfer has committed to play his final season for Big Ten rival Purdue.

“I’ll be playing my 5th year for Purdue University,” Albrecht tweeted on Tuesday morning. “Boiler Up.”

Albrecht’s career has been fascinating to follow. A very lightly recruited high schooler, Albrecht picked Michigan over Appalachian State, playing very limited minutes behind National Player of the Year Trey Burke before popping off for 17 points in the first half of the national title game that season (and launching the greatest heat check in the history of heat checks). He would play a bigger role as a sophomore before averaging 7.5 points and 3.9 assists in 32 minutes as a junior in 2014-15.

But as a senior, Albrecht cut his season short after just a couple of games due to a degenerative issue in his hips. He had surgery on both hips prior to last season and initially announced that his career was over. That changed, but Michigan’s scholarship situation didn’t: They had already recruited someone to take his scholarship after his graduation, so Albrecht was forced to transfer.

Purdue is a good fit for him. He’ll provide veteran leadership on a team with just one other senior on the roster — redshirt junior Basil Smotherman — and he’ll help anchor the point guard spot currently held by junior P.J. Thompson.

Villanova’s Jenkins to return for senior season

Villanova forward Kris Jenkins (2) reacts to play against North Carolina during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After briefly taking part in the NBA Draft evaluation process, Villanova forward Kris Jenkins announced Monday night that he’s decided to withdraw and return to school for his senior year. Jenkins, whose three-pointer as time expired gave the Wildcats the win over North Carolina in the national title game, announced the news via Twitter.

2015-16 was a breakout season for Jenkins, who moved into the starting lineup and averaged 13.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. The 6-foot-6 forward shot 45.9 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc, and with starters Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu graduating he’ll have even more opportunities to produce next season.

Jenkins’ decision to return leaves wing Josh Hart as the lone Wildcats going through the early entry process at this time. Hart was a first team All-Big East selection as a junior, and his return would be the final piece to the puzzle for a team that many expect to be a national title contender in 2016-17.

Jenkins and Hart wouldn’t be the only returnees who had a part in the national title run, with guards Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth, wing Mikal Bridges and forward Darryl Reynolds back as well. To that group Villanova adds Fordham transfer Eric Paschall and a recruiting class anchored by Omari Spellman and Dylan Painter with Donte DiVincenzo and Tim Delaney available after being hampered by injuries last season.

Delaney missed all of last year after undergoing surgical procedures on his hips, and DiVincenzo played a total of 74 minutes over the first nine games before having to sit due to a broken foot.

Florida State guard Rathan-Mayes to return for junior season

Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (22) drives past Notre Dame guard Rex Pflueger, left, for a score in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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With their top three scorers from last season all deciding to declare for the NBA Draft, Florida State was facing the possibility of having to rebuild their backcourt ahead of the 2016-17 season. However two of those three have decided to return to Tallahassee, with rising junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes announcing on Monday that he will be back in school.

Rathan-Mayes joins rising sophomore Dwayne Bacon in returning to play another season for head coach Leonard Hamilton, with Malik Beasley hiring representation and remaining in the draft.

Rathan-Mayes had more scoring help last season and as a result was able to concentrate more on the distribution aspects of the point guard position, as he averaged 11.8 points and 4.4 assists per contest. With the return of Rathan-Mayes and Bacon, Florida State will have two of its top three scorers from last season back on campus.

The Seminoles did lose some veteran players, most notably guard Devon Bookert and center Boris Bojanovsky, but the returnees and a recruiting class led by McDonald’s All-American forward Jonathan Isaac means that they won’t lack for options next season.

Auburn lands third transfer within the last week

Auburn guard T.J. Dunans (4) and coach Bruce Pearl celebrate a 75-74 win over UAB in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala.  (Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP)
Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP
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After receiving commitments from former Purdue/Houston guard Ronnie Johnson and former Presbyterian forward DeSean Murray, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl continued to load up on the transfer market Monday. Forward LaRon Smith, who was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year at Bethune-Cookman last season, announced that he will use his final season of eligibility at the SEC program.

Like Smith, Johnson will also be eligible to compete immediately for the Tigers while Murray will have to sit out next season before having two years of eligibility remaining.

The 6-foot-8 Smith played two seasons at Georgia State before transferring to Bethune-Cookman, where he averaged 7.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per contest in 2015-16. Smith played just over 25 minutes per game for the Wildcats, shooting 58.5 percent from the field.

Smith reached double figures in scoring in four of the Wildcats’ final seven games, including a 20-point, 11-rebound, three-block outing in an overtime win over North Carolina A&T. He joins a front court in need of depth following the departures of the likes of Cinmeon Bowers and Tyler Harris, with Horace Spencer, Trayvon Reed and incoming freshman Anfernee McLemore also competing for minutes in 2016-17.

SMU lands former Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt

Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt (24) leaps for a layup past Tennessee guard Shembari Phillips (25) during an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Arkansas won 75-65. (Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)
Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP
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With a five-member recruiting class set to arrive on campus this summer, SMU added a talented transfer Monday afternoon. Jimmy Whitt, who played his freshman season at Arkansas, committed to join Larry Brown’s program. Whitt, a 6-foot-4 guard from Columbia, Missouri, will have three seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2016-17 campaign.

As a freshman at Arkansas, Whitt averaged 6.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in just over 17 minutes of action per game. He reached double figures in scoring nine time, with the high being a 15-point outing in a blowout win over Missouri in mid-January. Whitt produced a stretch of four consecutive games in double figures during non-conference play, but he struggled to maintain that consistency against SEC competition.

At SMU he’ll join a perimeter rotation that will lose rising senior Sterling Brown following the 2016-17 season. Among those who will have eligibility remaining when Whitt becomes eligible are Ben Emelogu, Shake Milton, Jarrey Foster and incoming freshmen Tom Wilson and Dashawn McDowell.