Ben Simmons: With his performance at Peach Jam, Simmons proved he’s the No. 1 player in the 2015 class. He passes well with both hands, attacks the rim with either hand and has great handles. He also defends laterally pretty well and rebounds and pushes tempo. If his perimeter jumper improves, look out. (SP)
Isaiah Briscoe: Simmons is the best prospect in the Class of 2015, but Briscoe was the best player this week. He averaged 22.4 points — second best at Peach Jam only to Allonzo Trier — and 3.8 assists while leading the Playaz to a title. (RD)
Jayson Tatum: This is currently a tough category to fill, since I saw so many elite 2015 and 2016 prospects this week, but with Tatum’s skill level and size, it’s easy to see why some have him at No. 1 in 2016. While Josh Jackson and Malik Monk were up-and-down this week and Harry Giles is still recovering from his knee injury, Tatum kept on chugging along and putting up great numbers. (SP)
Ben Simmons: I think I actually agree with Scott here, but in the interest of differing opinions I’ll go with Simmons. The 6-foot-8 forward certified himself as the best player in the class in North Augusta. (RD)
Quinndary Weatherspoon: A borderline top 100 recruit, the 6-foot-5 Weatherspoon put on a pair of scoring displays at Peach Jam. He can be a bit inconsistent, but any high-major program that needs perimeter firepower should be tracking this kid.
Levan Alston: The 2015 guard from Team Final is tough on both ends of the floor and a fiery competitor. Coming in just outside of Rivals top 100, I’ve seen a lot of guards ranked ahead of him that I wouldn’t take over him.
NON-TOP 150 SLEEPER:
Braxton Beverly: A 2016 point guard from Hazard, Ky., Beverly was terrific at Peach Jam. He finished third in the tournament in assists while protecting the ball and showing he could his a three-pointer with time and space. He’s tough, too. I saw him fight through a sprained ankle to beat Mac Irvin Fire with three driving buckets in the final five minutes. (RD)
Jalen Poyser: The CIA Bounce 6-foot-4 Class of 2015 guard surpassed his EYBL high scoring mark twice at Peach Jam and had multiple productive outings in the event. Multiple college coaches were intrigued by Poyser’s ability to attack and he has a natural smoothness about him. (SP)
Josh Jackson: It’s not that I wanted more out of Jackson’s talent, of which he has plenty, but I wanted to see the elite 2016 wing take better shots and use his passing more to set up teammates. The 6-foot-6 Jackson was benched during one game at the UAA Finals with five minutes left in a one-point game and that should never happen to an elite player. (SP)
DeAndre Ayton: Ayton is believed by some to be the best prospect is all of high school basketball, but the 6-foot-11 big man from the Class of 2017 is nothing more than a prospect at this point. He’s got terrific physical tools but the rest of his game still needs polishing. The good news? He’s got plenty of time. (RD)
BEST LEAD GUARD:
Jawun Evans: Since I already went with Briscoe as the Player of the Week, I’m going to mix it up at the lead guard spot, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that follows this site that I am picking Evans as the best lead guard from this week. The 5-foot-11 Texas native is, for my money, the best pure point guard in the Class of 2015, and he played that was in Atlanta for the UAA Finals. (RD)
Donovan Mitchell: There are better point guard prospects in the 2015 class, but nobody had a better week than Donovan Mitchell. Whether it was the elementary school day campers at Suwanee Sports Academy or national championship-winning head coaches, they all went nuts over Mitchell’s play this week. (SP)
Malik Monk: The 40-point performance at Peach Jam was epic and once Monk gets more strength, he’ll be able to put up performances like this with more consistency. Sometimes Monk hunts highlights too often, and while the 2016 class is talented, I don’t see how Monk isn’t a top-5 player at this current juncture. (SP)
Allonzo Trier: Trier was the leading scorer at Peach Jam, averaging more than 30 points in the give games that he played, including the 42 that he put up while handing Briscoe and the Playaz their only loss of the event. Trier’s had a great spring and summer while shooting up the national rankings. (RD)
BEST WING FORWARD:
Jayson Tatum: The game just comes easy to Tatum. Although the 6-foot-8 wing was a man among boys playing in the 16U ranks at Peach Jam, you can still see he has all the necessary tools to be a star. (SP)
Ben Simmons: I see Simmons playing a role similar to that of Royce White at the collegiate level, which would make him more of a point forward than a wing forward. (RD)
D.J. Hogg: There aren’t many great shooters in this class but Hogg can fill it up when he gets hot and he has a shooter’s mentality with good size at 6-foot-7. Once he gets in better shape, Hogg’s shot will be more consistent because right now. (SP)
Camron Justice: Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings was front and center while tracking his his commitment. The No. 136 recruit in the Class of 2015 shot very well throughout Peach Jam. (RD)
BEST LOW POST BIG:
Tyler Davis: Again, not the best prospect I saw as a low post player, but Davis was the most productive big man I saw last week. The 6-foot-10 Davis is impossible to move off the block, owns a good set of hands and has improving footwork and counter moves in the post. He’s right on the cusp of elite status. (SP)
Diamond Stone: Davis was easily the best low-post big man at Peach Jam, and Stone was just as impressive at the UAA Finals. He’s getting into a habit where he is settling too much for perimeter shots, but some of that is a result of Stone trying to prove that he has expanded his game. He’s known for his ability to score on the block already. (RD)
KeVaughn Allen: Allen was one of the biggest stock-risers in Georgia this week, averaging 19.0 points in eight Peach Jam games. The Florida-commit showed off an improved three-point stroke, but where he was most impressive was on the defensive side of the ball. He will thrive in Gainesville. (RD)
Chris Clarke: I would take Chris Clarke on my team in any game. The Class of 2015 wing plays hard, defends on the perimeter, hustles after every loose ball and generally lifts the energy of the teammates on the floor with him. He’s just the kind of player that makes winning plays. (SP)
ONE MORE GUY DESERVING OF ATTENTION:
Franklin Howard: Franklin Howard is already ranked and committed to Syracuse, but I was impressed by his recovery from a major knee injury that forced him to miss the high school season. Howard doubled his minutes during the Peach Jam from the EYBL and looked pretty good despite shooting the ball poorly. (SP)
Alterique Gilbert: A 5-foot-9 PG, Gilbert is No. 92 in the Class of 2016 on Rivals. He’s a quick, shifty point guard that can get to the rim and finish in traffic. He also doesn’t appear to get rattled by big moments or big plays. He averaged 18.2 points in the event. (RD)
Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension
Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.
“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”
Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.
“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”
Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.
Report: Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all pass on sponsoring Lonzo Ball
Lonzo Ball will enter his rookie season in the NBA without a sponsorship deal from Nike, Adidas or Under Armour, only his family’s Big Baller Brand apparel.
That, according to a report from ESPN, is due to his father LaVar’s insistence that Lonzo not sign with one of the three major apparel companies unless they opted to sign a licensing deal for Big Baller Brand merchandise instead of outfitting Lonzo with their own gear.
“We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal,” LaVar told ESPN. “We’re looking for co-branding, a true partner. But they’re not ready for that because they’re not used to that model. But hey, the taxi industry wasn’t ready for Uber, either.”
LaVar had been representing his son in the negotiations, and is now expected to reach out to other shoe brands, including Chinese apparel companies like Li-Nang.
Big Baller Brand is a startup apparel company launched by LaVar Ball. They sell t-shirts, sweatshirts and hats, with most of their products costing at least $50.
Lonzo declared for the NBA Draft after an all-american season that saw him and the UCLA Bruins flame out of the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16. UCLA lost to Kentucky in that game, and Lonzo had a quiet night while his point guard counterpart, De’Aaron Fox, went off for 39 points.
Lonzo is a likely top three pick in the NBA Draft and, potentially, could still end up going No. 1. He has two younger brothers as well. LiAngelo will be a freshman with the Bruins next season while LaMelo just finished his sophomore season in high school. Both will attend UCLA.
It’s about that time to release the 2017-18 preseason top 25.
A couple of notes here:
Final decisions on NBA Draft decisions won’t be made for more than a month. We’re making educated (some more than others) guesses on who will be doing what.
We also make some educated guesses on where some of the remaining uncommitted kids will end up going to school.
If there is a * next to a player’s name, it means we’re still waiting for official word on what his status will be next season.
Next season’s top 25 is awful uninspiring. There also isn’t anything close to a clear-cut No. 1 team, not with how much is still left to be determined through NBA Draft decisions, transfers and elite recruits picking a school.
Drop us a line here or @CBTonNBC if you see any names missing.
Here is the top 25:
Who’s gone: Mangok Mathiang, David Levitch, Tony Hicks
Who do they add: Malik Williams, Darius Perry, Jordan Nwora, Lance Thomas
Louisville has a chance to be very, very good next season. Just how good probably depends on what Donovan Mitchell decides to do — opinions seem split on him, as of this posting — but assuming Deng Adel is back and guys like VJ King, Ray Spalding and Anas Mahmoud take a step forward, the Cardinals might be the best team in the ACC. That says a lot this year.
Who’s gone: Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III, Luke Kennard
Who do they add: Gary Trent Jr., Wendell Carter, Alex O’Connell, Kevin Knox*, Trevon Duval*
Projected starting lineup: Trevon Duval*, Frank Jackson*, Gary Trent Jr./Grayson Allen, Kevin Knox*, Wendell Carter
We’re going to go through this all over again with Duke next season, aren’t we? Look at that starting five and tell me the talent on that team isn’t scary. Grayson Allen is back for his senior year, but Duke’s season hinges on Frank Jackson returning and landing one of, if not both Trevon Duval and Kevin Knox.
3. Michigan State
Who’s gone: Eron Harris, Alvin Ellis III, Ben Carter*
Who do they add: Jaren Jackson, Xavier Tillman
Projected starting lineup: Cassius Winston, Josh Langford, Miles Bridges, Jaren Jackson, Nick Ward
I like this Michigan State team a lot. Nick Ward was a beast last year and Jaren Jackson is the perfect sidekick. Cassius Winston and Josh Langford will both take a step forward. The key, however, is that a potential Player of the Year in Miles Bridges opted to return to school.
Who’s gone: Lauri Markkanen, Kadeem Allen, Kobi Simmons, Rawle Alkins*
Who do they add: Deandre Ayton, Brian Bowen*, Brandon Randolph, Ira Lee, Alex Barcello, Dylan Smith
The Wildcats add the most talented big man in the class in Deandre Ayton, and may add Brian Bowen to a class that also includes Brandon Randolph. The reason they’re a top five team, however is the return of Allonzo Trier.
Who do they add: Jaleek Felton, Sterling Manley, Brandon Huffman, Andrew Platek
Projected starting lineup: Joel Berry II, Kenny Williams, Theo Pinson*, Luke Maye, Tony Bradley*
The Tar Heels are coming off of back-to-back national title game appearances, and while they will lose three key seniors from that team, and probably Justin Jackson as well, there are some important pieces that will likely return. Berry will be a National Player of the Year contender, Tony Bradley will be a breakout star and Luke Maye will move into the starting lineup.
Who’s gone: Frank Mason II, Josh Jackson, Landen Lucas
Who do they add: Malik Newman, Billy Preston, Marcus Garrett, Sam Cunliffe
Projected starting lineup: Devonte’ Graham, Malik Newman, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Billy Preston, Udoka Azuibuike
The Jayhawks are going to have a lot to replace, but they do have some players coming in. If Devonte’ Graham does come back, I think he’ll be a star and all-Big 12 player at the point, and he’ll be joined by a former top 10 prospect in Malik Newman and a current top ten prospect in Billy Preston.
Who’s gone: Davon Reed, Kamari Murphy
Who do they add: Lonnie Walker, Chris Lykes, Deng Gak, Sam Waardenburg
Projected starting lineup: Ja’Quan Newton, Bruce Brown, Lonnie Walker, Anthony Lawrence, Dewan Huell
Losing Reed and Murphy will hurt, but Bruce Brown was one of the best-kept secrets last year, Lonnie Walker is a big-time scorer and Dewan Huell is a former top 30 prospect in line for a big bump in minutes this year. Jim Larrañaga is exactly the coach to take advantage of this guard-heavy lineup, too.
Who’s gone: Kasey Hill, Canyon Barry, Justin Leon, Devin Robinson
Who do they add: Isaiah Stokes, Egor Koulechov, Chase Johnson, DeAundre Ballard, Michael Okauru, Jalen Hudson, Dontay Bassett
Projected starting lineup: Chris Chiozza, KeVaughn Allen, Egor Koulechov, Kevarrius Hayes, John Egbunu
Coming off of a trip to the Elite 8, the Gators bring back most of their key pieces while adding a talented recruiting class and two players that redshirted last season. Two keys to this team’s ceiling: The health of John Egbunu, who missed the second half of last season, and the development of KeVaughn Allen and Chris Chiozza.
The Wildcats are going to take a major hit with Josh Hart finally graduating, but the good news is that Jay Wright is still around, as is Jalen Brunson. Omari Spellman getting eligible will help, and I know I’m not the only one that thinks Donte DiVincenzo has a chance to develop into an all-Big East player.
Kentucky is a tough team to peg for next season. They should be really good defensively — Hamidou Diallo and Jarred Vanderbilt are elite defenders — and insanely athletic, but it’s going to be another year where we don’t know who shoots it for Kentucky. They’re in the mix for Mo Bamba and Kevin Knox; the addition of either one, particularly Knox, would make Kentucky a top five team.
11. Wichita State
Who’s gone: No one
Who do they add: Samajae Haynes-jones, Asbjorn Midtgaard
The Shockers finished the season ranked in the top ten at KenPom, but ended up with a No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament because they struggled to get used to each other early on in the season. With everyone returning from last year’s team, don’t be surprised to see Gregg Marshall’s team as a Final Four contender.
Who do they add: Derek Culver, Brandon Knapper, D’Angelo hunter, Teddy Allen, Wesley Harris
Projected starting lineup: Jevon Carter, Daxter Miles Jr., Esa Ahmad, Lamont West, Elijah Macon
At this point, I’m just going to assume that Bobby Huggins is going to put a good team on the floor regardless of the situation. The names don’t even matter, although Jevon Carter is back for what feels like his 17th season in college hoops while Esa Ahmad seems primed for a monster year.
Who’s gone: Charles Buggs
Who do they add: Derryck Thornton, Charles O’Bannon, Jordan Usher
Projected starting lineup: Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Elijah Stewart, Bennie Boatwright, Chimezie Metu
There is a lot of talent on the USC roster for now, especially now that Metu is returning, but the key to this team is going to be whether or not they get Boatwright and Stewart back.
Who’s gone: Akeem Springs
Who do they add: Isaiah Washington, Jamir Harris, Davonte Fitzgerald
Projected starting lineup: Nate Mason, Dupree McBrayer, Amir Coffey, Jordan Murphy, Reggie Lynch
The Golden Gophers bring everyone back from last season, a year where they were one of the most surprising teams in the country. Minnesota could win the Big Ten.
Who’s gone: Lonzo Ball, TJ Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, Bryce Alford, Isaac Hamilton
Who do they add: LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, Jalen Hill, Chris Smith
It’s going to be interesting to see how the Bruins move on from the Lonzo Ball era. It will also be interesting to see how LaVar Ball handles the fact that LiAngelo Ball isn’t Lonzo.
Who’s gone: Troy Caupain, Kevin Johnson
Who do they add: Keith Williams, Trevor Moore, Eliel Nsoseme, Cane Broome
Projected starting lineup: Cane Broome, Jarron Cumberland, Jacob Evans, Gary Clark, Kyle Washington
The Bearcats return a lot of important pieces from a team that won 30 games last season. Broome averaged 23 points for Sacred Heart as a sophomore.
Who’s gone: Ishmail Wainright
Who do they add: Mark Vital, Tyson Jolly, Tristan Clark
Projected starting lineup: Manu Lecomte, Jake Lindsey, King McClure, Jo Lual-Acuil, Johnathan Motley*
It all hinges on whether or not Motley opts to return to school for his final year of eligibility. That’s very much in the air. With him, they’re a top ten team. Without him, they’re probably closer to the 20-25 range. We split the difference and went 18th.
The Wildcats, a year removed from their first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament, bring back essentially everyone from last season and get Aaron Falzon healthy. Bryant McIntosh will contend for Big Ten Player of the Year.
Who’s gone: Nick King, Jimmie Taylor, Shannon Hale, Corban Collins
Who do they add: Collin Sexton, John Petty, Daniel Giddens
Projected starting lineup: Collin Sexton, John Petty, Dazon Ingram, Braxton Key*, Daniel Giddens
The Crimson Tide bring back a talented young core and add two five-star guards, including Collin Sexton, who could lead the conference in scoring.
22. Notre Dame
Who’s gone: Steve Vasturia, VJ Beachem
Who do they add: DJ Harvey, Nikola Djogo
Projected starting lineup: Matt Farrell, Temple Gibbs, Rex Pflueger, Bonzie Colson, Martinas Geben
At this point, I’m fine betting on Brey to have Notre Dame in the mix every year. They’re going to need Rex Pfleuger and Temple Gibbs to take a step forward, but Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell can carry the Irish.
23. Virginia Tech
Who’s gone: Seth Allen, Zach LeDay
Who do they add: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Wabissa Bede
Projected starting lineup: Justin Robinson, Ahmed Hill, Justin Bibbs, Chris Clarke, Khadim Sy
The Hokies return all five starters from last season despite the fact that the team graduates their top two scorers. A healthy Chris Clarke and Kerry Blackshear will help.
Wichita State is starting to gain more national respect with regards to its non-conference schedule.
Since moving to the American Athletic Conference this spring, the Shockers have not only gained the benefit of being in a multi-bid league every year, but they’re also getting better teams to play them outside of conference play.
According to a report from Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle, the Shockers now have non-conference games scheduled with Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this season. With Wichita State also playing in the Maui Invitational, it gives the Shockers plenty of opportunities to schedule quality opponents and improve its NCAA tournament seeding. And that’s before Wichita State starts conference play.
Although Wichita State was getting invited regularly to prestigious non-conference tournaments such as Maui or the Battle 4 Atlantis, they were having a tough time getting certain schools to book home-and-home series. The Baylor series signifies a small, but significant, change to how Wichita State might be able to do things now.
USC forward Bennie Boatwright returning for junior year
USC has a chance to be really good next season as forward Bennie Boatwright announced that he’s returning for his junior season.
The 6-foot-10 forward put up 15.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from three-point range as his return means that the Trojans should be a major contender in the Pac-12 next season. Elijah Stewart also announced this week that he is returning as USC could start Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Stewart, Boatwright and Chimezie Metu next season.
With Duke transfer Derryck Thornton Jr. also becoming eligible and McDonald’s All-American guard Charles O’Bannon Jr. entering the program, the Trojans are a potential top-10 team.