Las Vegas Saturday Recap: Bennie Boatwright, Justin Simon lead Dream Vision into adidas Super 64 semis

Leave a comment
source:
Kelly Kline/adidas

LAS VEGAS — One of the better matchups on Saturday was the adidas Super 64 quarterfinal between Dream Vision and the Atlanta Celtics, with both teams possessing a high number of Division I prospects. Chase Jeter was the headliner for Dream Vision but he struggled mightily against Abdul Hakim Ado, who is considered to be one of the best defensive big men in the Class of 2016. Ado finished the game with seven points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots, and he altered numerous attempts around the basket as well in a performance that backs up the praise of his defensive prowess.

With Jeter struggling others needed to step up, and Bennie Boatwright and Arizona commit Justin Simon did just that to lead Dream Vision to the 66-63 victory. Boatwright had it rolling offensively, as he scored 27 points with a considerable amount of his damage being done from the perimeter. And as the points increased so did his confidence, with Boatwright even looking to mix it up with some touches in the post. If he can play with the offensive aggression he displayed Saturday on a consistent basis, look out.

As for Simon much has been made about what position he’s best suited for, with some wondering if he’s a good enough setup guy to serve primarily as a point guard. But if his showing in Las Vegas is any indication of what he’ll be able to give Arizona in 2015, it’s best to give him the label of “playmaker” instead of trying to fit him into a strict role. Simon made plays off the dribble, attacking the defense to either put himself in position to score or set up his teammates. And it was his lob to Jeter with 20 seconds remaining that gave Dream Vision a 64-63 lead that it would not relinquish. While there’s still room for Simon to improve as a distributor, there’s plenty to like about his game as he enters his senior year of high school.

For the Celtics, 2016 guard Kobi Simmons scored 18 points but he had to work awfully hard in order to do so as he made just six of his 24 attempts from the field. This is the area where Simmons will need to work hard to improve upon. He can put points on the board, but that can’t come at the expense of making sure his teammates are taken care of as well. Braxton Blackwell played just as much of a role in initiating the offense for the Celtics, dishing out five assists in a “point forward” role to go along with 13 points.

MORE: Quotables Part I | Part II | Part III | All content from the 2014 July Live Period

Junior college showcase attracts solid number of quality prospects: JucoRecruiting.com once again held a showcase event in Las Vegas, with more than 100 players looking to land an opportunity to play at a four-year school on display. And while former DePaul forward Dejuan Marrero was one of the players involved he wasn’t the player both Herb Sendek (Arizona State) and Pat Chambers (Penn State) showed up to see. That distinction goes to South Plains JC guard Andre Spight, who continues to work towards being a factor as a point guard. Last season Spight, who began his career at UTEP, spent a considerable amount of time playing off the basketball. That will change this coming season, and Spight’s goal is to be a point guard for a four-year program when the time comes to make a decision.

According to Spight, who will visit Arizona State on September 5 per Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports, he’d like to make his decision during the early signing period. Another guard to consider from the event was Desmond Medder, who will play at New Mexico JC after averaging 20 points and just over six rebounds per game at Scottsdale (Arizona) CC last season. Per Medder he’s yet to receive any calls from Division I programs, but if he can continue to score as he did last year that should change.

RELATED: Las Vegas Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

Hot week in Vegas leads to added recruiting interest for Justin Foreman: One of the best offensive performances of the week was put together by NY Rens guard Justin Foreman, who on Wednesday night dropped 48 points in a thrilling 96-94 win over the Ohio Basketball Club. Foreman was unconscious that night, hitting 14 of his 16 shots from the field (15-for-17 FT) and making all five of his three point attempts. Foreman continued on that scoring streak throughout the weekend, and Foreman’s hope is that  his recent run of play results in increased recruiting interest.

Currently the majority of his offers come from MAAC programs including Iona, Canisius, Niagara and Saint Peter’s, and he has also heard from Hofstra, St. Francis-Brooklyn, LIU Brooklyn, Rhode Island and Kent State. Foreman also stated that next month he’ll be taking unofficial visits to “Fairfield, Canisius, Marist and Sacred Heart.”

Curtis Jones will move to the point this high school season: While the 7-footer receives much of the attention nationally, the fact of the matter is that Team Loaded has a number of quality prospects with 2016 guard Curtis Jones being one. Jones played well in Las Vegas, providing his team with the perimeter scoring needed to balance what they get inside from Maker. What’s interesting about Jones’ game is that he’ll be making a position switch of sorts, as he expects to play the point for his high school team. “A lot of ball-handing, watching film of other point guards and trying to improve my decision-making so I can get my teammates involved,” Jones told NBCSports.com when asked how he’s preparing for the change in roles.

According to Jones he holds offers from Cincinnati, Virginia, Virginia Tech, NC State, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Maryland, and VCU. And among the schools who have recently been in contact, Jones mentioned Louisville, Indiana, Ohio State, Missouri, Xavier and Texas. Those programs will be watching intently to see how Jones’ transition to the point guard spot goes, and with his ability to break down defenses off the dribble he’s a tough matchup for many teams.

Wake’s Collins declares for NBA draft without hiring agent

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Leave a comment

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Wake Forest’s John Collins is entering the NBA draft but will not hire an agent and is keeping open the option of returning to school for his junior season.

In a statement Wednesday announcing the decision, Collins said he wants “to make an informed decision about what is best for my future.”

Collins is a 6-foot-10 forward who as a sophomore blossomed into one of the best big men in the Atlantic Coast Conference and was voted to the Associated Press all-ACC team.

He averaged 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds, putting together a string of 12 consecutive 20-point games late in the season.

His progression was a big reason why the Demon Deacons earned their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2010. Kansas State beat Wake Forest in the First Four.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org

Porter, Jr. will ask for Washington release

Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images
Leave a comment

There may be an overwhelming assumption on where Michael Porter, Jr. – and his father – will ultimately end up, but the five-star recruit is said publicly that he see his re-recruitment process through.

Porter, Jr. said in a teleconference Wednesday that he will ask for his release from Washington, and his father, a former Huskies assistant, has been offered a job at Missouri by new Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin.

“Right now I’m just trying to take it slow with my family and weigh my options,” Porter Jr. said, according to the Kansas City Star. “I plan to get my (national letter of intent) from Washington back and just go from there, not saying that I’m not going to Washington anymore, but I just want to get it back and weigh my options.”

The prevailing thought has been that the Porters will ultimately land in Columbia, where they have significant history.

Still, it would appear at least publicly that Porter, Jr., a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, will weigh his options in at least the short-term.

Calipari signs two-year extension with Kentucky

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
Leave a comment

Kentucky continues to take care of John Calipari.

The Wildcats coach has received a two-year extension, keeping him under contract in Lexington through the 2024 season, the school announced Wednesday.

The contract will pay Calipari $7.75 million next season and increase to $8 million per season thereafter.

“John has achieved consistent championship-level performance at Kentucky,” Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement. “No one in America is better suited for everything that comes with being the coach here. Not only has he attained incredible success on the court, he is also a leader in our community and in college basketball.

“We have been blessed to have him and Ellen here for the last eight years and we are blessed they will continue to call Kentucky home.”

Not only does the deal extend Calipari, but it continues to keep Kentucky competitive with the NBA, which would seem to be the only outlet that would even potentially tempt Calipari away from Kentucky. An NBA franchise would have to make him among the highest-paid coaches in the league to even match Kentucky financially.

Of course, given that Calipari has spurned interest from the league since returning to college in 2000, it seems unlikely that financial considerations would be the lone or heaviest variable in making a decision to move on.

Certainly, Calipari has an excellent thing going at Kentucky as the premier recruiting program in the country that has enjoyed serious success on the court, culminating in a 2012 national title and a 38-0 start to the 2015 season before a loss in the Final Four.

“The last eight years at the University of Kentucky have been a terrific ride,” Calipari said in a statement. “This extension shows our full commitment to each other. I believe this school is the gold standard and I’m so thankful and blessed that this university has given me this opportunity at this point in my career.”

The Wildcats face UCLA in the Sweet 16 on Friday.

Louisville’s Mitchell declaring for draft, won’t hire an agent

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell is the latest to decide to see what the NBA might offer.

“I have decided to test the waters and not hire an agent!” Mitchell wrote in an Instagram post Wednesday. “I am excited to work out this summer for teams and hopefully participate in the NBA combine! I want it to be clear I have not decided to leave Louisville!”

Mitchell, who is expected to be joined by dozens of players, is taking advantage of new NCAA rules that allow him to work out for teams and attend the NBA draft combine before making a decision on whether to remain in the draft and return to school.

Players have until May 24 to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

Mitchell averaged 15.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a sophomore, shooting 40.8 percent overall and 35.4 percent on 3-point attempts.

The 6-foot-3 guard is projected as a potential first-round pick, but should he return, the Cardinals would project as one of the top teams in the country with nearly the entire core returning from this year’s 25-9 squad.

Moe-mentum: Wagner stands tall for Sweet 16-bound Michigan

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Ask Moe Wagner who he looked up to when he was younger, and suddenly the Michigan big man’s fiery demeanor makes a little more sense.

“Kevin Garnett was always my biggest idol, even though our play isn’t really similar. Just the way he brings intensity and energy to his team,” Wagner said. “That always was something that really impressed me.”

Now Wagner is providing his own emotional leadership to a Michigan team that has become one of college basketball’s most remarkable stories this March.

The Wolverines have won six in a row since they were involved in a plane accident on the eve of their Big Ten Tournament opener.

After winning that conference tourney, they opened the NCAAs with victories against Oklahoma State and Louisville – with Wagner scoring 26 points in the win over Louisville that sent Michigan to the Sweet 16.

The 19-year-old Wagner is in his second season with the Wolverines. He showed some promise in 2015-16, but averaged only 8.6 minutes a game as a freshman. He’s been a starter the whole way this season, teaming up with D.J. Wilson to give Michigan some unexpected production in the frontcourt.

The Wolverines entered the season with high hopes thanks to the presence of seniors Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin.

The 6-foot-11 Wagner has made them even tougher to defend. The sophomore from Berlin is averaging 12.2 points a game, and unlike Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan – two of Michigan’s top big men of the recent past – Wagner is a threat from beyond the arc. He’s made 41 percent of his 3-point attempts in 2016-17, putting even more pressure on opposing teams.

An expressive player on the court, Wagner admits he’s still learning how to keep his emotions under control.

Coach John Beilein says Wagner can be hard on himself, but he has an upbeat attitude the Wolverines can appreciate.

“I don’t want to rob him of his energy and his passion,” Beilein said. “If you heard him in timeouts – I mean, he is really into it. And it’s encouraging things he’s saying.”

The key for Wagner is to stay on the court. He’s been whistled for 100 fouls this season – no other Michigan player has more than 80 – and he picked up two in the first 3:11 when the Wolverines faced Oklahoma State in their NCAA Tournament opener Friday. Wagner played only 14 minutes in that frenetic game, which Michigan won 92-91 .

Against Louisville in the round of 32 , Wagner went 11 of 14 from the field and kept his poise after being called for his second foul late in the first half.

“He’s always just been an excited guy – play hard and play with a lot of passion,” Walton said. “I don’t think anything has changed. I think he’s just channeling it a little better.”

The seventh-seeded Wolverines face third-seeded Oregon on Thursday night in a regional semifinal. Michigan has won seven in a row, a streak that began with the team’s last game of the regular season.

What happened next is well documented. The day before its opening game in the conference tournament, Michigan’s plane slid off the runway .

There were no serious injuries, and the Wolverines arrived in time to play. Then they won four games in four days to take the title.

Now, Michigan is two victories away from an improbable Final Four appearance. If the Wolverines actually make it that far, Wagner will be a big reason why – and he’ll probably be as excited as anyone.

“One of my youth coaches actually used to say that I was somebody who, like, sees the basketball court as a stage and really enjoys it,” Wagner said. “Last year, I started to understand what that actually means, and kind of embraced that this year. That’s just me. I really love it. I really enjoy it.”