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)

Arkansas hoping for more backcourt depth and stronger press in 2016-17

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Dusty Hannahs #3 of the Arkansas Razorbacks drives to the basket against Michael Humphrey #10 of the Stanford Cardinal  at Barclays Center on November 27, 2015 in Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Arkansas is coming off of a disappointing 16-16 season in which they missed the postseason.

The Razorbacks lost two key guards in Anthlon Bell and Jabril Durham — who both exhausted their eligibility — but they’re hoping a couple of additions will bolster the depth of their backcourt and make their trademark press stronger.

In a story from Tom Murphy of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Razorbacks are excited about the possibilities of their new backcourt.

Although Arkansas lost two talented seniors and a transfer in Jimmy Whitt, they return Dusty Hannahs, Manny Watkins and Anton Beard while also getting two of the best junior college guards in the country. Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon come in highly touted for next season and both junior college guards garnered a lot of praise from their play last season.

With Arkansas also bringing in some freshman guards like C.J. Jones and RJ Glasper, head coach Mike Anderson is hoping to have enough bodies to play fast and use his press. The team appears to be optimistic as well.

“I think we’ll have a lot more toughness at the guard position, and depth,” Watkins said to Murphy. “We’ve got a lot of guys. When we’re pressing and stuff, we’ve got bodies we can bring in.”

Arkansas also returns an SEC Player of the Year candidate in big man Moses Kingsley and they could be an intriguing team to track this season if Barford and Macon are as good as advertised. They’ll certainly have more bodies to throw at opposing guards and that should help Arkansas play faster than they did last season.

College career over for Nevada’s Hallice Cooke due to heart issue

DENVER, CO - MARCH 19:  Hallice Cooke #3 of the Iowa State Cyclones celebrates after hitting a three pointer in the second half against the Arkansas Little Rock Trojans during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Pepsi Center on March 19, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The college basketball career of Nevada guard Hallice Cooke is over, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-3 native of New Jersey will stay with the program as a volunteer assistant as a heart issue will force Cooke to end his career prematurely.

Cooke started his career at Oregon State before transferring to Iowa State and eventually ending up at Nevada. During the 2015-16 season, Cooke was a role player for the Cyclones as he averaged 10 minutes per game off the bench.

Obviously it’s unfortunate to see someone’s career end early, but it’s also good that Cooke is still going to be involved with the game as an assistant. This could be the type of thing where Cooke eventually ends up coaching in college basketball and it’ll be interesting to see if he tries to stay in the game and get serious about coaching.

N.C. State’s Dennis Smith Jr. fully recovered, ready to go

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Kelly Kline/adidas
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Dennis Smith Jr. sure looks ready.

North Carolina State’s prized freshman point guard is pushing through a workout in the practice gym on a hot July afternoon, and there’s no sign of the knee injury that defined his past year.

He’s sprinting along the baseline to bury a catch-and-shoot corner 3-pointer. He’s dribbling between chairs and stutter-stepping his way to a pull-up jumper. He’s launching himself at the rim for a dunk off the dribble.

“I don’t expect to be rusty at all,” Smith said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I was feeling kind of nervous at one point, but I went in and did a workout and then I was thinking, `I’m putting in all this work so all the nervousness should be out of my mind.’ I had no reason to be timid.

“I just have to go out there and perform, no excuses.”

A lot has happened for Smith in 12 months. The Fayetteville native suffered a torn left anterior cruciate ligament in a game during the Adidas Nations event featuring top prospects. He had surgery, picked N.C. State, graduated from high school early and enrolled in college in January to rehab and learn the Wolfpack’s system before his debut later this year.

Tuesday marks one year since the injury for the 6-foot-3 Smith, ranked by ESPN as the nation’s No. 1 point guard when he signed last fall.

“We’ve tried to be real conservative with him as far as not letting him do too much too fast,” coach Mark Gottfried said. “At his age, he can’t wait. He’s dying to play every day.”

Smith started earning his leadership role as soon as he arrived in Raleigh, pointing out instructions to teammates or calling them to the gym for extra work even though he couldn’t play. He figures that time observing from the sideline has prepared him to replace high-scoring floor leader Anthony “Cat” Barber.

“I feel like I’ve gotten smarter, definitely,” Smith said. “I see the game totally different now. I read pick-and-roll easier. I feel like I’ve gotten more sound on defense because I understand angles better.”

The physical work to get back has been tougher.

Roughly a year ago, Smith was lying in a bed after surgery trying to stay positive. He asked trainer Ja-Rell Bailey to bring him some free weights for upper-body exercises even if he couldn’t do much else, an example of why Bailey described Smith as “a man determined.”

Smith’s father said the rehab emphasized building leg strength to protect and stabilize the injured knee, something his son said he will keep doing in both legs for years to come. Smith’s work has helped him go from 180 pounds to a college-ready 192-pound frame.

“He’s got his bounce back, so he can dunk and everything,” Dennis Smith Sr. said. “But what Junior has got, God gave it to him. . A lot of times you run into kids who are built off of hype because they do a fancy move or have a good game. Junior ain’t hype. He’s the real deal.”

Regardless, Gottfried expects Smith to have “a learning curve.”

“For me,” he said, “I think what you see in November is going to be much different than what you see in January.”

The Wolfpack will look much different, too, after missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five seasons. N.C. State welcomes Scout.com’s No. 6-ranked recruiting class that includes five-star Turkish big man Omer Yurtseven. Senior guard Terry Henderson returns from an ankle injury that sidelined him 7 minutes into last season. Charlotte transfer and former Conference USA freshman of the year Torin Dorn Jr. will play after sitting out last year.

Still, Smith is the guy stirring the most buzz for Wolfpack fans – something he has no trouble embracing.

“I really don’t feel that pressure though,” Smith said. “I feel like if you come in and you expect to play well, then you should have those expectations of people talking. It’s just playing basketball to me. I’ve been doing it my whole life.”

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s college basketball site at http://collegebasketball.ap.org

Washington lands commitment from Mamoudou Diarra

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For the second time this summer, Washington has landed a commitment from a forward in the Class of 2017.

On Friday, it was Mamoudou Diarra that pledged his future to Lorenzo Romar. Diarra is a 6-foot-8 combo-forward that is currently unranked by Rivals but was targeted by a number high major program.

Washington landed a commitment from Michael Porter Jr. earlier this summer, and given Porter’s standing as the potential No. 1 player in the class, the Huskies will be in the mix for the best crop of freshmen in the country in 2017-18. Romar has also landed commitments from four-star guard Jaylen Nowell and three-star guard Blake Harris.

RELATED: How the Michael Porter Package Deal came to fruition

Diarra played his high school basketball in St. Louis.

Xavier lands second top 100 commitment in 2017

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Xavier landed a key commitment on Friday morning in Naji Marshall, one of the Musketeers’ top targets in the Class of 2017.

Marshall is a la 6-foot-5 wing from Washington D.C. that is currently ranked 62nd in the 2017 class by Rivals. He’s a scorer that has shown off a versatile offensive game, averaging better than three assists on the Under Armour Association circuit.

This is the third commitment from head coach Chris Mack in the class and the second top 100 player to pledge to the Musketeers. Marshall picked Xavier over Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia Tech, among other.