Adidas Hoops

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)

Hart returning for Villanova’s title defense

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Villanova’s title defense just got a whole lot stouter.

Josh Hart, the leading scorer of the Wildcats’ national championship team, will return for his senior season, he announced on Twitter.

The decision for Hart to return is a major boost for Villanova in its quest to become the first back-to-back champions since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Hart, a 6-foot-5 guard,  averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from 3-point range.

Most draft pundits had him pegged as a potential end-of-the-first-round pick in next month’s draft though he could have certainly slid into the second should he had decided to forego his senior season. Instead, Hart will be a potential first-team All-American exhausting his eligibility in Philadelphia.

The 2016-17 season is taking shape nicely, and Hart returning to Villanova only increases the strength of the field at the top. Title game hero Kris Jenkins as well as Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges are also back for the defending champs while the super recruiting classes of Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State, Kansas’ returning core along with Josh Jackson and a solid group of teams including North Carolina, Arizona, Louisville and Wisconsin make for an intriguing upper-tier of teams that could very well make for a top-heavy season following last year’s free for all.

College basketball isn’t the NFL. Parity doesn’t equal strength and quality, and when the sport has a handful high-quality teams, it is at its best. It’s looking like that is a possibility for the 2016-17 campaign.

UConn duo returning to school

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Connecticut may have lost its 6-foot-7 wing scorer but it is keeping its defensive stalwart and leading scorer.

Center Amida Brimah and guard Rodney Purvis have withdrawn their names from NBA Draft consideration and will return to the Huskies for another year, the school announced Tuesday.

The decisions from Brimah, a 7-foot center, and Purvis, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, help soften the blow dealt by Daniel Hamilton’s decision to sign with an agent and leave school despite having some shaky draft stock. The Huskies may not open the season as a top-25 team, but they won’t be far behind and will be one of the AAC’s favorites, along with Cincinnati.

Brimah averaged 6.5 points per game last year, but blocked 2.7 shots per game. He missed 11 games last season with a broken finger. Purvis registered 12.8 points per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor.

Neither Brimah or Purvis were among those invited to this month’s NBA Draft combine nor were either expected to be drafted should they have kept their names in the draft.

Gonzaga’s Karnowski returning for fifth year

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The man in the middle is returning to Gonzaga.

Przemek Karnowski will return to the Bulldogs for his final year after a medical redshirt waiver was granted allowing him a fifth season in Spokane, the school announced Tuesday.

“I’m excited to be coming back,” Karnowski said in a statement. “After talking with the coaches, my parents and the team, I decided this was the best decision for me. I still have a ways to go with my rehab, but I’m staying positive about the upcoming season.”

The 7-foot-1 Karnowski, a Poland native, would have, at minimum, had professional opportunities overseas, but instead will return to play for the Bulldogs once more after a back injury limited him to five games last season. He averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a junior in 2014-15.

With Karnowski returning along with  Josh Perkins and Silas Melson, Gonzaga coach Mark Few will be having newcomers Nigel Williams-Goss, Zach Norvell, Johnathan Williams II and Zach Collins joining an experienced and talented group.

Gonzaga (shocker) will be the West Coast Conference favorite once more, but the Bulldogs will also be fielding a team that should open the season in most everyone’s top-15.

Michigan St. at Duke highlights ACC/Big Ten Challenge

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A matchup in Durham of likely top-10 teams is the headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, whose schedule was released Tuesday.

Michigan State, expected to open the season in the top-10, and Duke, the presumptive preseason No. 1, will meet Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the most intriguing contest of the 14-game event.

The Spartans are losing Denzel Valentin, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello, but the recruiting class of Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford and Nick Ward is one of coach Tom Izzo’s best and has Michigan State positioned as one of the Big Ten’s favorites.

Izzo’s recruiting class, though, pales in comparison to what coach Mike Krzyzewski is bringing to the Blue Devils, with Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden, Frank Jackson and Javin DeLaurier in their 2016 class, which is why, when paired with the likes of Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard, make Duke nearly everyone’s No. 1 heading into next season.

Krzyzewski is 9-1 all-time against Izzo’s Spartans.

Among the other highlights of the conference competition is Syracuse at Wisconsin (Nov. 29) Pittsburgh at Maryland (Nov. 29), Purdue at Louisville (Nov. 30) and Ohio State at Virginia (Nov. 30).  

Monday, Nov. 28

Minnesota at Florida State

Wake Forest at Northwestern

Tuesday, Nov. 29

Syracuse at Wisconsin

Michigan State at Duke

Pittsburgh at Maryland

Iowa at Notre Dame

Georgia Tech at Penn State

N.C. State at Illinois

 

Wednesday, Nov. 30

Purdue at Louisville

North Carolina at Indiana

Ohio State at Virginia

Virginia Tech at Michigan

Rutgers at Miami (Fla.)

Nebraska at Clemson

 

Hayes returning to Wisconsin for senior season

Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes celebrates with fans after an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, in Iowa City, Iowa. Wisconsin won 67-59. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Wisconsin has cemented itself as one of the teams to beat in the Big Ten for the 2016-17 season.

Forward Nigel Hayes, the Badgers’ leading scorer and assist man, is withdrawing his name from NBA Draft consideration to return to Madison for his senior season, he told the Wisconsin State Journal on Tuesday evening.

Hayes declared for the draft last month, but did not hire an agent, taking advantage of new NCAA legislation that allowed him to attend the NBA Draft combine and workout for pro franchises. He was largely regarded as a fringe first-round prospect by draft observers.

His decision is a major boon for Greg Gard, who may have the Big Ten’s best team in his first full season at the helm after taking over for Bo Ryan in the middle of last season. Wisconsin had a major turnaround under Gard, which ultimately resulted in him moving from interim to full time. The Badgers were 7-5 when Ryan stepped down, but recovered by going 13-4 to end the season and make the Sweet 16. 

Now, the entirety of that team, headlined by Hayes, is returning for another year and almost assuredly will be a top-15 (or better) preseason pick. Michigan State will welcome in a dynamite recruiting class that features five-stars Miles Bridges and Cassius Winston, and Indiana should remain strong, but the Badgers, with some players having the experience of  playing in two Final Fours, could very well have the best roster on paper with its blend of talent and experience. Whichever team is pegged as the favorite, the top of the Big Ten is shaping up to be a fantastic race.