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adidas Nations college counselor Superlatives

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LONG BEACH, California — The 2014 version of adidas Nations is behind us now, but with CBT‘s Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips both in attendance, they decided to break down some of the college counselors by going over a list of superlatives for the week. Be sure to look out for high school superlatives as well as brief recaps of every college counselor in attendance later this week on College Basketball Talk.

Click here for CBT’s coverage from adidas Nations

BEST PERFORMER:

  • Norman Powell (UCLA): Of the college players at the camp Arizona’s Stanley Johnson would likely be the highest draft pick if there were a draft today, and that will likely be the case in June as well. But the honor of best performer at adidas Nations goes to Powell, who was consistent on both ends of the floor throughout the weekend. The rising senior was aggressive offensively without being reckless, and if he can carry over that level of play into the season that bodes well for Steve Alford’s Bruins. (RJ)
  • Terran Petteway (Nebraska): Since Louisville guard Terry Rozier had some inconsistent performances down the stretch, I’ll go with Petteway, who had an impressive week at adidas Nations by knocking in perimeter jumpers, attacking the basket and defending hard at the other end. He’s one of the college counselors who stared NBA veteran Arron Afflalo in the eye and didn’t flinch. After a big year in the Big Ten last season, Petteway looks like he’ll once again be one of the league’s best players this coming season. (SP)
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WANTED TO SEE MORE FROM:

  • Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin): Kaminsky is considered by many to be the top face-up big man in college basketball, and based upon the way he played as a junior that’s a fair label to give him. But the perimeter shots weren’t falling in Long Beach, and what was even more concerning was the lack of consistency on the boards. He’ll play better during the season, but it would have been nice to see him do more in front of the NBA scouts in attendance. (RJ)
  • Zak Irvin (Michigan): Since Raphielle picked Kaminsky and Louisiana Lafayette’s Shawn Long only played two days of the camp, I’ll go with Michigan sophomore wing Zak Irvin, who didn’t appear to be much better than when I last saw him in Indianapolis during the Sweet 16/Elite Eight weekend. Irvin can still perform as a catch-and-shoot player, but after losing Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary, Irvin needs to step up this season and do more off-the-bounce. That didn’t happen at adidas Nations. Irvin struggled with two-dribble pull-ups and was stripped multiple times while trying to drive to the basket. Still plenty of time before November, but Irvin doesn’t look much better than last season. (SP)

BIGGEST SURPRISE:

  • Tony Parker (UCLA): In all honesty I didn’t expect much from Parker, based largely upon his inconsistent play during his first two seasons at UCLA. However Parker held his own, working hard on the glass and converting many of the opportunities he was able to find around the basket. The question for Parker: can he provide UCLA with consistent minutes throughout the season? Even with the talented trio joining the UCLA front court (Jonah Bolden, Kevon Looney and Thomas Welsh), the Bruins are going to need something from Parker this season. (RJ)
  • BeeJay Anya (N.C. State): There were stories of Anya’s weight loss since the end of last season, but he clearly looks like a player who has redefined his game heading into his sophomore season. Since Anya has lost so much weight, he’s getting up and down the floor much better, getting better lift off of the ground and also making hustle plays that he would never try to make before. The improved lift and mobility means Anya was more confident as a low-post scorer and his tremendous wingspan also makes him a difference as a weakside shot blocker. I like this version of BeeJay Anya much better and I’m sure N.C. State fans will agree with me. (SP)

BEST NBA DRAFT PROSPECT:

  • Stanley Johnson (Arizona): Simply put, the incoming freshman is a grown man. He was aggressive in driving to the basket, finishing above the rim on multiple occasions, and he knocked down his perimeter shots at a solid clip as well. And Johnson held his own against Arron Afflalo on Saturday night when the Denver Nuggets guard joined the scrimmages. (RJ)
  • Stanley Johnson (Arizona): Not to piggyback off the same player as my colleague, but Johnson was really good this week and has improved his body even more since entering college this summer. Kelly Oubre and Terry Rozier are both good NBA Draft prospects as well at this current juncture, but with Johnson’s size, athleticism, skill and tenacious work ethic, he’s the frontrunner of the group that played at adidas Nations this week. There’s a reason Tracy McGrady and Afflalo went at Johnson the most and it’s because they respected his ability to give them a fair fight as an incoming college freshman. (SP)

Johnson, Paige help No. 9 Tar Heels roll past Panthers 85-64

North Carolina's Isaiah Hicks (4) dunks against Pittsburgh during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Brice Johnson scored 19 points to lead a dominating offensive performance that helped No. 9 North Carolina beat Pittsburgh 85-64 on Sunday.

Marcus Paige added 15 points for the Tar Heels (21-4, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 59 percent to stay atop the league ahead of the next renewal of their fierce rivalry with Duke.

UNC had plenty of balance, shared the ball and got out in transition in arguably their best performance in weeks, using a 13-0 second-half burst to blow the game open. UNC finished with 26 assists on 32 baskets, 24 points off turnovers and scored 16 fast-break points after managing a combined five in the past two games.

Michael Young and James Robinson each scored 15 points to lead Pitt (17-7, 6-6). But the Panthers shot 37 percent and committed 19 turnovers, and a strong effort on the glass did little to offset their troubles.

The Tar Heels were playing their first home game in two weeks after a difficult three-game road trip that started with losses at Louisville and Notre Dame. Then came Tuesday’s game at Boston College, where the Tar Heels struggled against a winless league team then had a scare when Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams briefly collapsed in a second-half huddle after an attack of vertigo and had to leave the sideline for the rest of the game.

Williams was back in the office on Wednesday’s off day, returned to practice Thursday and told reporters Friday he was fine and even cracked jokes about a two-decade history with vertigo dating to his Kansas years.

Getting back home certainly helped everyone feel better. After wrestling with shooting struggles for much of the past month, UNC’s offense kicked back into an efficient and balanced gear, while Paige – the player the Tar Heels are practically begging to jolt free from a prolonged shooting slump – looked more like his old self against the Panthers.

That included one second-half play in which he caught a crosscourt pass from Theo Pinson in transition and made sure to step back behind the arc before burying a 3-pointer.

The Panthers had lost three of four since a 5-2 league start coming in, including 65-63 on a late tip-in at No. 12 Miami on Tuesday. And Pitt again had trouble getting their offense going, failing to crack 70 points for the third straight game.

TIP-INS

Pittsburgh: Second-leading scorer Jamel Artis scored five points on 2-for-8 shooting. … Pitt finished with a 41-29 rebounding advantage. … Pitt made 9 of 21 3-point attempts.

UNC: Justin Jackson scored 14 points. … UNC made 8 of 15 shots from 3-point range and 13 of 15 free throws. … Jackson and Pinson had six assists each. … UNC managed just one offensive rebound.

UP NEXT

Pittsburgh hosts Wake Forest on Tuesday.

UNC hosts Duke on Wednesday.

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

Denzel Valentine dominant as No. 8 Michigan State whips Indiana

Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (45) shoots over Indiana's Kevin Yogi Ferrell during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
AP Photo/Al Goldis
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Trailing by one point at the half, Indiana appeared to be in good shape at No. 8 Michigan State. However the fact that they were unable to slow down Denzel Valentine, who scored 15 first-half points, was a major concern for Tom Crean’s Hoosiers. Sure enough the national Player of the Year candidate continued on his tour de force in the second half, scoring another 15 points and dishing out seven assists as the Spartans rolled to an 88-69 victory.

For the game Valentine finished with 30 points, five rebounds, 13 assists and just one turnover. Of Michigan State’s 48 second half points, Valentine had a hand in 29 of them with all seven of his assists resulting in Michigan State layups. It was a dominant performance from one of the nation’s best players, a versatile guard whose four games missed due to injury may have led to some overlooking him when it comes to those national Player of the Year conversations.

When Valentine’s on everything else flows smoothly for Tom Izzo’s team, as his ability to both score and create results in quality looks for teammates who would struggle if they had to get that part of the job done themselves.

The biggest beneficiary Sunday afternoon was forward Matt Costello, who finished the game with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Of Costello’s ten made field goals (10-for-12 FG) five were assisted by Valentine, and he accounted for 13 points and seven rebounds in the second half. As a team Michigan State shot 63.3 percent from the field and assisted on 16 of their 19 made field goals in the second half, turning a tight contest into a blowout.

Tum Tum Nairn returned the court for the first time in seven games, but he played just two minutes and his time on the court will be managed carefully by Izzo moving forward. For many teams not having your point guard at full strength would represent a crippling blow, but that hasn’t been the case for Michigan State thanks in large part to Valentine. Michigan State went 4-3 in those seven games without Nairn, but the three losses were by a total of three points.

Valentine’s ability to make his teammates better will be a key factor down the stretch for Michigan State, and that skill was what led to the Spartans blowing out Indiana on Sunday.