July Live Period Week Three Superlatives

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The third and final five-day open evaluation period came to a close Sunday evening, with players and coaches alike now having the opportunity to get some much-needed rest. While Raphielle Johnson was in Las Vegas taking in games at four different grassroots events (and a juco showcase), Scott Phillips was in Louisville for the AAU Nationals and the AAU Super Showcase. Below are CBT’s superlatives from this past weekend.

MORE: Week one superlatives \ Week two superlatives

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

  • Isaiah Briscoe (2015): Much has been said about Briscoe’s skill set as a lead guard and rightfully so, as his ability to break down opponents off the dribble to create for himself and others was on full display. But what really impressed me was his toughness. The young man simply will not be denied. Highly impressive showing in Las Vegas. (Raphielle Johnson)
  • Raymond Spalding (2015): The Louisville commit has an impressive basketball frame at 6-foot-9 and his feel for the game in very good, as well. If Spalding can get more comfortable and assertive as a scorer, then he’ll be incredibly difficult to guard on the wing, but in his current iteration, he’s already a good passer both in outlets and high-low situations. With wide shoulders, Spalding also has the type of frame that will allow him to add weight. (Scott Phillips)

BEST PROSPECT:

  • Thon Maker (2016): At a certain point some people will stop reaching for wild comparisons to make and simply focus on the skills that Maker brings to the table. While the perimeter shot was inconsistent this weekend he can score from just about anywhere on the floor, and Maker was solid defensively and on the glass as well. Maker’s a gifted player who will only get better as his body matures and he becomes stronger. (RJ)
  • Edrice Adebayo (2016): While other five-star prospects in his class have received a lot of publicity the last three weeks, Adebayo chugged along this July and helped Boo Williams win a lot of games. A strong and physically imposing interior big man, the 6-foot-9 Adebayo had the motor running high as he rebounded, defended, hunted tip dunks and got more comfortable with his post touches as July went along. (SP)

MOST UNDERRATED RECRUIT:

  • Justin Wright-Foreman (2015): Of the top six scoring performances at the adidas Super 64 two were turned in by the same player. That would be Wright-Foreman, who scored 48 points in one game and 31 in another, and the southpaw guard had it rolling offensively all weekend long. Just as important as the point totals is the fact that Wright-Foreman was efficient in racking up those impressive totals, something that can’t be said for all guards. (RJ)
  • Admiral Schofield (2015): Mid-majors were all over the big-bodied wing from Team NLP this week. At 6-foot-5, Schofield has a lot of skill and some good athleticism for a player his size and he comes from strong bloodlines, as his brother, O’Brien Schofield, is a linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks after a strong career at Wisconsin. The younger Schofield is starting to make his own name and high-majors are tracking to see if he can play at the highest level. (SP)

MOREQuotables Part I | Part II | Part III | All content from the 2014 July Live Period

FAVORITE 2016/2017 PROSPECT:

  • DeAndre Ayton (2017): This young man is going to be a player we’re talking about quite often over the next few years. At 6-foot-11 the height is already there, and one would think that as he gets older Ayton’s physical strength will improve. He can handle the ball some on the perimeter, although there are times in which he gets sped up in that area, and he’s a very difficult player to stop once he gets the ball in the paint. (RJ)
  • Gary Trent, Jr. (2017): The son of Gary Trent — former MAC legend and NBA veteran — Trent, Jr. is starting to develop his own reputation as a 6-foot-3 guard. Trent, Jr. does a nice job on high ball screens, moves well without the ball and scores from all three levels. With the ball in his hands, the young guard seemed very comfortable and he made a lot of plays in Louisville. (SP)

BEST SHOOTER:

  • Kyle Guy (2016): Teammate and Purdue commit Ryan Cline stole the show in the title game for Indiana Elite, but it was Guy who consistently knocked down shots throughout the tournament. And given his showing in Las Vegas, it won’t be a surprise when even more programs look to jump into the race for his services. (RJ)
  • Aaron Falzon (2015): One of the things I liked about the 6-foot-7 Falzon, was not only his feathery touch from the outside as a stretch forward, but also his shot selection. In Louisville, Falzon wasn’t the type of player that hoisted up a lot of volume threes just to see what fell like a lot of guys that can heat up from beyond the arc tend to do. He hit shots coming off of screens and also hit threes in transition by spreading the floor and finding a corner. (SP)

BEST SCORER:

  • Jaylen Brown (2015): Brown cemented his status as one of the best players in 2015 with his play in Las Vegas, as he scored from all three levels (at the rim, mid-range and beyond the arc) for Game Elite. He’s added 20 pounds since last summer, but seeing him up close you can tell that he’s put on “good” weight in doing so. (RJ)
  • Trent Forrest (2016): There weren’t many go-to bucket-getters in Louisville this week, but Forrest did a lot of damage with the ball in his hands. A 6-foot-3 combo guard with long arms, Forrest doesn’t have a polished perimeter jumper, but he uses shot fakes well and scores around the rim using floaters, runners and finishing above the rim when he can gather with two feet. (SP)

BEST DEFENDER:

  • Abdul Ado (2016): Not to say that finding a quality weakside shot-blocker is easy, but you’re more likely to find that kind of big man than the big who blocks/alters shots put up by the man he’s defending as well. Ado was outstanding as a post defender for the Atlanta Celtics, and while they fell to Dream Vision in the quarters he was the primary defender as Chase Jeter was limited to just five points. (RJ)
  • Rayjon Tucker (2015): While he is still figuring out how to use his tremendous athleticism on the offensive end when the game slows down, Tucker can really get out and defend on the perimeter by using his lateral quickness and leaping ability. Tucker is the rare guard that can hunt down chasedown blocks with ease thanks to his ability to run and jump with the best of them. (SP)

No. 13 Notre Dame lands come-from-behind win to beat No. 6 Wichita State in Maui

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Notre Dame led twice during Wednesday night’s Maui Invitational title game.

At 4-2, and, after Martinas Geben hit the second of two free throws with 2.3 seconds left, at 67-66.

That score would end up being the final, as the 13th-ranked Irish erased a 14-point second half deficit to knock off No. 6 Wichita State and bring home that Maui trophy.

Bonzie Colson led the way with 25 points and 11 boards while Matt Farrell chipped in with 15 points, four assists, four boards and three steals. Geben chipped in with 12 points, including those two free throws that served as the eventual game-winners.

Beyond the simple fact that they did it against one of the best teams in the country, what makes this comeback so impressive is that the Irish didn’t rely on a flurry of threes to change the course of the game. This comeback came through grit, toughness defensively and, if we’re being honest, a little bit of luck.

With less than 20 seconds left on the clock and the Irish down by three points, Colson airballed a pretty good look at a three from the top of the key. On the ensuing inbounds, Farrell stole the ball and happened to find Colson under the rim for a layup. The lead was cut to one, and Wichita State proceeded to miss the front end of a one-and-one after being fouled.

The ball once again ended up underneath Notre Dame’s basket, but this time it was the Irish ball, and after a gorgeous inbounds play, Geben headed to the line for two shots. The first shots somehow managed to go down after bouncing off the back of the rim, the backboard and the front of the rim twice.

And with that, Notre Dame would get off of the islands with another quality win for their résumé and a title to their name.

No. 8 Kentucky finally has it easy against Fort Wayne, 86-67

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Nick Richards had career highs of 25 points and 15 rebounds, and 70 percent first-half shooting propelled No. 8 Kentucky to an 86-67 rout of Fort Wayne on Wednesday night.

Kentucky’s 19-of-27 shooting before halftime countered the Mastodons’ eight 3-pointers that kept them close for a while. Once Fort Wayne started missing, it couldn’t match the length or speed of the young Wildcats (5-1), who eventually led 78-48 with 6:50 remaining on the way to their most decisive win this season.

Richards thrived in both halves and on both ends, making 9 of 10 from the field and all seven free throws for his first career double-double. The 6-foot-11 freshman’s previous highs were 10 points against Utah Valley and nine rebounds against Kansas last week.

Quade Green, Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander each added 11 points as Kentucky shot a season-best 33 of 55 (60 percent) and dominated the rebounding 44-21.

Junior guard John Konchar had 19 points and Bryson Scott 18 for Fort Wayne (3-2), who had won three in a row before losing on 40 percent shooting.

BIG PICTURE

Fort Wayne: A year after upsetting Indiana, the Mastodons led Kentucky 37-36 with 3:51 left in the first half behind 8-of-22 shooting from long range. They went cold from outside and elsewhere after that and the Wildcats pounced to lead at the break and stretch the advantage to 30 points in the second half. The Mastodons’ 12 3-pointers were their third-highest total this season.

Kentucky: Something had to give after all those tense performances and the Wildcats thrived because of their size and best shooting effort this season. Richards couldn’t be stopped on either end, and teammates seemed in sync for the first time. Sophomore forward Wenyen Gabriel came up just short of a double-double with 10 rebounds and nine points.

UP NEXT

Kentucky hosts Illinois-Chicago on Sunday to wrap up the Rupp Classic before getting a few days off.

Fort Wayne visits East Tennessee State on Saturday. ETSU lost 78-31 to Kentucky last Friday.

VIDEO: Providence beats Belmont on Kyron Cartwright’s buzzer-beating three

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We got the first wild buzzer-beater of the college basketball season on Wednesday night, as Kyron Cartwright answered a Belmont bucket with 3.7 seconds left by going 94-feet to hit a leaning three at the buzzer:

Providence won the game 65-63.

Cartwright finished with 17 points in the win.

Four Takeaways from N.C. State’s upset win over No. 2 Arizona

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Five games into the Kevin Keatts era and N.C. State already has themselves a signature win.

The Wolfpack upset No. 2 Arizona in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis, 90-84, sending Sean Miller home without reaching the Final Four once again. Allerik Freeman led the way with 24 points, while Braxton Beverly chipped in with 20 points off the bench and the combination of Abdul-Malik Abu and Omer Yurtseven combined for 21 points and 17 boards.

This wasn’t a fluky win, either.

N.C. State had control throughout. They were up 15-6 before Arizona woke up, they didn’t trail in the first half and they were the ones that made the Wildcats chase them down in the second half. It was quite impressive, as Keatts had this group playing hard and pressing for 40 minutes. It’s been a while since N.C. State fans can say that they’ve seen that.

Here are three things to takeaway from that win.

1. Arizona is going to have some things to figure out on the defensive end of the floor if they want to win a national title: Deandre Ayton is a man amongst boys. In his first college basketball game against competition that actually deserved to be on the same floor as him, Ayton finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds, a performance that makes me so damn excited to see just how good Marvin Bagley III, Miles Bridges and players of that ilk are if Ayton does not end up being the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.

Trier struggled in the first half, but he still managed to put together a 27-point performance, with 24 of those 27 coming in the second half. They put up 84 points. That wasn’t the issue.

The 90 points they allowed was.

Even more concerning was the fact that the Wolfpack scored those 90 points on just 73 possessions. The bottom-line is this: That’s not good enough, not when N.C. State is hardly a contender for the Final Four, let alone a national title challenger.

2. Kevin Keatts is making the most of the talent Mark Gottfried squandered: I’m not sure quite how good the Wolfpack actually are. I don’t think it’s possible to tell this early, even after a win over a team like Arizona. But what is undeniable is the simple fact that this N.C. State team plays are and with most passion and intensity than any Mark Gottfried team did.

They look like they are trying. They look like they care. And frankly, that often matters more than the simple stock-piling of talent. There’s no way anyone could look at this N.C. State roster and think that it has more talent on it than, say, a team with Dennis Smith Jr. or a team with T.J. Warren. The Wolfpack may not have a future lottery pick on this roster. But they do have guys that play their tails off, that play as if they have a point to prove and that play as if they are being coached.

It makes you wonder what could have been had Keatts been in Raleigh last season.

3. Braxton Beverly getting ruled eligible is going to be a big deal for N.C. State: Earlier this fall, Braxton Beverly was one of the biggest stories in college basketball, believe it or not. He had transferred to N.C. State from Ohio State after enrolling in summer courses prior to Thad Matta’s firing. He was ruled ineligible for this season with the Wolfpack, and it turned into the cause celebre for college basketball media members looking to circle the wagons and bash the NCAA.

It took longer than it should have, but Beverly was eventually cleared by the NCAA. He’s eligible to play this season, and he just so happens to be the point guy on the N.C. State press and one of their best shooters. He put up 20 points on the No. 2 team in America. I think he’s going to be relevant this season.

4. Arizona’s point guard issues rose to the forefront: When the Wildcats made their push in the second half, they did it on the strength of hustle plays and transition buckets. Jumping passing lanes and going coast-to-coast. Beating N.C. State’s press and getting a layup. Points that came off of offensive rebounds. Where they struggled was with their half court execution. The question with this team entering the season was with the point guard play. Was Parker Jackson-Cartwright going to be good enough to carry this team to a title? I’m not sure we can truly say we got on answer on Wednesday – N.C. State’s pressure, which was ratcheted up by the fact that Arizona couldn’t get a stop, played more of a role than anything – but Jackson-Cartwright certainly did not put in the kind of performance that would make Arizona fans feel comfortable.

Walker struggles in return home, No. 11 Miami beats La Salle

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READING, Pa. (AP) — Prized freshman Lonnie Walker IV struggled in his return home, but Dewan Huell scored 16 points and No. 11 Miami did just enough to get by La Salle 57-46 on Wednesday night and remain unbeaten.

Part of Miami’s recruiting pitch for the projected NBA lottery pick was a game in his hometown. Walker was held to five points and 2-of-8 shooting, and his woes were contagious. Miami (4-0) shot 37 percent from the field and the Explorers were 0 of 15 from 3-point range.

B.J. Johnson scored 16 points on 6-of-20 shooting and Pookie Powell added 15 on 5-of-15 from the field for La Salle (3-3) in its third straight loss.

La Salle traveled about 60 miles from campus, but it was a Miami home game and the crowd was solidly behind their local hero’s team. Walker has provided a needed boost to a struggling city northwest of Philadelphia.

Once a bustling railroad and mill town of 120,000, Reading has been in a steady decline for decades. It ranked as the poorest city in the nation in the 2010 Census based on median household income. Population has plummeted to under 88,000.

Walker and his Reading High School team had given the city something to be proud of in March, winning its first state title.

Many in the crowd wore red Reading High state champion T-shirts and sweatshirts, with sprinkles of Miami orange and La Salle blue and gold sprinkled in.

Walker didn’t start — he hasn’t yet this season — but the crowd roared as he got off the bench and walked to the scorer’s table 4 minutes in.

While Walker didn’t appear to have any issue with the left ankle he turned in a win over Florida A&M last week, it was a struggle. He missed his first three shots before finally bringing the crowd to its feet with a nifty crossover dribble and bank shot in the lane in the final seconds of an ugly first half that made it 19-19.

Walker couldn’t get it going in the second half, either. But he fed Bruce Brown Jr. for a 3-pointer with 3:23 left to put Miami up 49-39 during an 8-0 run.

Huell hit 8 of10 shots and added seven rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

La Salle: The Explorers dropped their third straight game to a Power 5 team (Northwestern, Boston College), but this was one they could have won with a decent shooting performance. They shot 29 percent from the field.

Miami: It was tough to tell if Walker was 100 percent with his ankle. He likely had some nerves. It was far from the performance he would have liked. Walker has been held to single digits in three straight games.

UP NEXT

La Salle hosts Big 5 rival Temple on Sunday before departing for a two-game tournament in Northern Ireland next week.

Miami returns home to face North Florida on Saturday before traveling to No. 14 Minnesota next Wednesday.