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Five Takeaways from the Nike EYBL Indianapolis

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WESTFIELD, In. — The second session of the April live evaluation period was busy in the Indianapolis area as both the Nike EYBL and Under Armour Association had events near each other. It meant a lot of the nation’s elite players were all in the same vicinity and I’ve now had a chance to watch good chunks of all three shoe company circuits after checking out the adidas Gauntlet last week in the Dallas area.

I’ll have some takeaways from the Under Armour Association on Tuesday but here are five things I learned from the EYBL this weekend.

1. Missouri should try to get Jontay Porter in immediately — I’ll start with this point since it might have the most immediate impact on the college game. Missouri should be working as hard as possible to get Jontay Porter to enter school this year to help his older brother, Michael Porter Jr.

Jontay has been very good in the Nike EYBL so far this spring as he could really help the Tigers for the 2017-18 season with how much he has improved over 2017.

Jumping from the EYBL to the SEC is a whole different ballgame. But as a Class of 2018 forward who is considering the jump to 2017, Jontay has shown an ability to be a versatile threat and potential double-figure scorer as early as next season. Jontay is currently putting up 18.9 points, 12.9 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game while shooting 43 percent from three-point range.

Over an eight-game stretch, Porter is top fifteen in the EYBL in scoring and top five rebounding and blocked shots while shooting like that from the perimeter. That’s a potentially solid second or third option that Missouri could use when Michael Jr. doesn’t have a lot of help next season. Many seem to believe that Jontay will play at Missouri for next season and he could have more of an impact than what was initially perceived.

2. Marvin Bagley remains the top player in the Class of 2018

As for the Class of 2018 prospects who seem to be staying in that class, big man Marvin Bagley III remains the No. 1 prospect as he continues to look like the clear No. 1 at this point. The top player in the class since he entered high school, Bagley has lived up the hype in the EYBL so far this spring as he’s been a double-double machine while leading the league in points (26.9 points per game) and rebounds (14.7 per game).

The best rebounder in the class by a wide margin, Bagley displays great timing off the floor and his initial and secondary bounces are both elite because of how quickly he gets off the ground. Bagley can also score in a number of ways, although he has a tendency to take too many three-pointers at certain times when he could be dominating on the interior.

Down to a final six schools that includes Arizona, Duke, Kansas Kentucky, UCLA and USC, Bagley is definitely looking like a potential No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft and he’ll have a major impact in a class that is weak with star power.

3. But Bol Bol isn’t very far behind Marvin Bagley in 2018

Since moving to California for his junior season, 7-foot-2 center Bol Bol, the son of former NBA center Manute Bol, looks like a changed player.

Looking like the most lethal scorer in Indianapolis during the second session of the EYBL, the Class of 2018 five-star prospect had some breaktaking scoring runs over the weekend. In fact, this weekend made it seem like Bol is potentially the second best player in the class behind Bagley.

Third in the EYBL in scoring at 25.4 points per game, Bol elevated his play to a ridiculous level over four games this weekend.

Averaging 29.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.75 blocks per game, Bol was 45-for-60 (75 percent) from the field, 10-for-14 (71 percent) from three and 19-for-22 (86 percent) from the free-throw line. And his numbers from the weekend before weren’t that much different.

Through eight Nike EYBL games, Bol is averaging over 25 points a game on 66 (FG)/53 (3PT)/86 (FT) splits. And he’s also 7-foot-2 and can impact the game on the glass or protecting the rim. Bol’s perimeter jumper looks jaw-droppingly good at times and he’s one of the best perimeter shooters in the country even though he’s one of the tallest players in his class.

There are still times when Bol can slack a bit on defense and chasing after loose balls, but his overall talent and penchant for scoring are undeniable and he currently looks like the second best player in the country behind Bagley.

4. There is solid depth at point guard in the Class of 2018

The Class of 2018 doesn’t have a lot of star power and there does look like a healthy number of talented lead guards who should stick around college basketball for a couple of seasons. Between the three shoe company leagues, there is a lot of lead guard talent available for top programs in this class.

The Nike EYBL had a number of guys competing for the honor of top floor general in the class as Tre Jones (Tyus Jones’ younger brother), Javonte Smart and Darius Garland all looked like they could be in that conversation at various times over the weekend.

With Tyus watching him from the front row, Tre Jones had a very good weekend as he continues to be one of the top distributors in the country while also playing with more of an edge than his brother did on defense. Tre doesn’t have the same vision and offensive capabilities as his brother at the same age, but he plays with tremendous poise and has a lot of traits college coaches would love to have.

Smart is a bigger guard who plays with more of a scoring edge but his ability to get to the rim is tough to stop. Also good in the passing lanes, Smart needs to work on his perimeter jumper, but he can also score at the basket more effectively than most of the other point guards in his class.

Garland offers an enticing package of perimeter shooting and playmaking for others. Since the Tennessee native can drop in deep jumpers off the dribble, he keeps defenders honest at all times and forces them to play up on him when he crosses half court.

Along with plenty of others from adidas and Under Armour, it looks like the college ranks will get a healthy amount of quality floor generals in this class. It will be one of the fun storylines of this summer to see which of these guards can separate themselves from the pack.

5. North Carolina off to a solid start in the Class of 2018

The defending national champions are already off to a solid start recruiting this Class of 2018 as the Tar Heels own two commitments from guard Coby White and point forward Leaky Black.

Although both are only considered four-star prospects, in a class that doesn’t have a lot of elite players, both White and Black showed flashes of being better than their rankings might indicate. The 6-foot-4 White looked like a possible high-level scorer at the college level with his ability to knife in traffic and change directions. White is putting up over 20 points per game through eight EYBL games while also showing an ability to handle the ball.

The 6-foot-7 Black is more of the enigma, as he is clearly very talented but he hasn’t quite figured out how to play yet. More of a distributor then scorer, Black looks like he could take over a game but sometimes he plays too passively for his own good. Then, Black will make some sort of ridiculous pass or score on a tough finish and you see why the Tar Heels pursued an early commitment.

It’s hard to say if either of these guys will elevate to five-star status, but having two commitments means that head coach Roy Williams and his staff can spend more time evaluating other Class of 2018 and 2019 prospects who can play with these guys over the next several seasons.

VIDEOS: Michigan State’s Miles Bridges puts on another show at local summer Pro-Am

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Watching Michigan State’s Miles Bridges throw down high-level dunks in local summer pro-ams has been a good way to pass the time the last few weeks.

The 6-foot-7 Bridges has been annihilating rims all summer as he had more ridiculous dunks on Tuesday night. Playing with former Michigan State star Denzel Valentine and some of his current Spartans teammates, Bridges had more crowd-pleasing plays to add to his summer reel.

Lansing State Journal reporter James Edwards III has been on the scene for Bridges’ games all summer as he has more dunks from the future lottery pick.

Minnesota keeps in-state three-star 2018 guard Gabe Kalscheur at home

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Minnesota is keeping a big-time shooter at home as Class of 2018 shooting guard Gabe Kalscheur pledged to the Golden Gophers on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-4 Kalscheur is the third in-state prospect to pledge to head coach Richard Pitino in the Class of 2018 as he joins three-star forward Jarvis Thomas and four-star big man Daniel Oturu. The three-star Kalscheur gives Minnesota a valuable floor spacer and a winner as he’s a three-time state champion at DeLaSalle. All three of these commitments also played together with Howard Pulley in the Nike EYBL.

During this spring and summer in the Nike EYBL, Kalscheur averaged 14.9 points and shot 39 percent from three-point range as he made 61 treys in 21 games.

Pitino has certainly done a nice job of keeping local players home as he’s hoping that trend continues with upcoming in-state five-star prospects like 2018 point guard Tre Jones and 2019 forward Matthew Hurt. The Golden Gophers will have to win national recruiting battles to keep those guys home, but they’ve done a nice job of getting the other guys that they need to keep home.

North Carolina and NCAA set August hearing

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North Carolina and the NCAA have released additional responses and set the dates for a future hearing on Tuesday amid an investigation into paper classes given by the university’s African-American Studies Department.

The NCAA’s allegations center around UNC’s athletes — most notably members of football, men’s and women’s basketball teams — allegedly being guided to the fake classes in order to keep GPAs high enough to remain eligible. The fake classes typically had a high number of athletes enrolled each semester.

While North Carolina argued in May that this should be a school matter and not an NCAA matter, the NCAA responded to the matter in its belief that it has the right to investigate the classes. North Carolina is facing five top-level charges in the case with lack of institutional control among the charges.

A two-day hearing will be held with the NCAA in Nashville on August 16-17.

“The hearing is the next step in bringing closure to this longstanding issue by allowing us the opportunity to address the Committee on Infractions and present the facts,” said Joel Curran, vice chancellor of University communications. “The NCAA has requested certain individuals from the University attend the proceedings. It is standard practice for the current head coaches of programs referenced in a notice of allegations to attend. Therefore, Coaches Larry Fedora (football), Sylvia Hatchell (women’s basketball) and Roy Williams (men’s basketball) will accompany University representatives to the hearing.”

Potential top ten pick Robert Williams discusses decision to return to Texas A&M

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PHILADELPHIA — Robert Williams knew that his family could use the money that would come with being a lottery pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He also knew that he wasn’t ready — mentally, emotionally, skill-wise — to make the leap to the NBA, which is why all it took was one question from his mother, Tundra, to convince the 6-foot-9 19-year old to return to Texas A&M for his sophomore season.

“We haven’t been rich for 19 years,” Williams recalls Tundra, whom he describes as a “middle school cafeteria lady”, telling him. “What’s one more year?”

“That sealed the deal. If she’s good, I’m good,” Williams told NBC Sports as he nursed shin splints at the Under Armour All-American camp in Philadelphia last week. “My mom just wants to see me happy. I could quit basketball and go work at Burger King. If I’m happy, she’s happy.”


“Oil City made me, Vivian raised me.”


Williams may not be a household name the way that fellow members of his high school class — Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, etc. — were, but he was certainly a known quantity on basketball circles. Williams was a potential top 10 pick in last year’s draft, a 6-foot-9 big man with a 7-foot-4 wingspan and the kind of athleticism most of us can only dream about. He has elite physical tools, even by NBA standards, and his ability to protect the rim along with his versatility defensively and budding post-game makes him a tantalizing long-term project.

Casual college basketball fans aren’t going to be familiar with bigs averaging 11.9 points on a team that didn’t even get a trip to the NIT, but NBA front office personnel were well-versed in his ability.

Just a borderline top 50 prospect coming out of high school, Williams’ ranking had as much to do with where he’s from as what he can do. He was born in Oil City, Louisiana, a town of roughly a 1,000 people tucked in the Northwest corner of Louisiana, five miles from the Texas on the west side of town and 18 miles from Arkansas to the north. “There’s just really nothing there,” Williams said. Oil City was small enough that he had to move to Vivian, a town of 3,600 people nine miles away, in order to attend high school.

Glen Johnson, Texas A&M Athletics

He spent four years playing for North Caddo High, a 2A public school in Louisiana, which isn’t exactly the best high school basketball in the country, and his role on the Houston Hoops team he played with in the summer after his junior year was somewhat limited, to say the least; he was teammates with De’Aaron Fox, Jarred Vanderbilt (a top 15 player in the Class of 2017) and Carsen Edwards, who started at the point for Purdue as a freshman. Combine that with the 25 pounds of muscle that he added to his frame, and what you have is a player that went from being a pogo stick that got pushed around on a team full of studs to a grown man that did the pushing and proved himself capable of playing a role that has value in the NBA.

“I went to Nike Camp, but I wasn’t that high of a recruit,” Williams said. “I was like No. 60 I think. It’s weird because I’ve never had this much ‘fame’, I guess is the word.”

“People knew who I was [in Vivian], but just because I was a people person. I was also always bigger than everyone.”

There weren’t many that expected Williams to have the season that he had as a freshman, averaging 11.9 points, 8.2 boards and 2.6 blocks in just 25 minutes a night. Even fewer expected him to return to Texas A&M once he caught the eye of NBA scouts, but head coach Billy Kennedy wasn’t one of them.

“Only because he told us,” Kennedy said with a chuckle, as if he knew just how lucky he and his staff are to be getting a second season with a talent like this. “We felt that during the year. But you never know until the end. We wanted to see him go through the whole process, but the cool thing is the kid made a decision and he did what was best for him.”


“Mentally and emotionally, I wasn’t ready.”


For Williams, the decision to return was two-fold. He knew that he wasn’t yet the player that he wants to be, and getting drafted as a dunker, a shot-blocker and an athlete can get a player pigeon-holed. “In the NBA,” Williams reasoned, “once you get there, what you are is what you are. I don’t want to be stuck in that jumping, that dunking position. I’m not necessarily saying I want to be able to play the two or the three, but I want to expand and show that I can sometimes push it and make a jump shot.”

“Rebounding, jumping, dunking. That’s been my game. That’s gets you paid well. But I know I have more. I want to be able to knock down a corner three. I’m not saying that I need to be coming off of screens and pulling, but I want to be able to knock down that shot and prove I’m able to get a rebound and start a fast break.”

He knew that it would take a lot of hard work and time in the gym this offseason to get to that point, and that’s where the second part of this comes into the equation. Williams knew that he wasn’t ready to be a professional yet, that he wanted to be able to enjoy life and basketball as a college kid for another year.

“People don’t understand that once you get to that level, it’s a job. It’s a business,” Williams said. “It’s not high school, it’s not even college, you’re competing for your job every time you go play.”

“Mentally and emotionally, I wasn’t ready.”

Thomas Campbell, Texas A&M Athletics

That didn’t necessarily sit well with everyone in Williams’ circle — specifically, Williams says his father wanted him to go to the NBA — because they all know the risk. Blake Griffin, who went from being a projected top ten pick as a freshman to the No. 1 overall pick as a sophomore, is the outlier. The likes of Ivan Rabb, Perry Jones III and Jared Sullinger tend to be the norm. When a player doesn’t take a step forward in his second season in college, the flaws are nitpicked instead of the potential being touted, and that’s to say nothing of the potential for devastating injury. For a player like Williams, who thrives on his athleticism, a torn ACL or a ruptured Achilles’ this season could be devastating to his earning power.

He knows all of that, and, Williams says, once he made his choice, the people closest to him rallied around him. There was some negativity, people calling his dumb for passing up on the guaranteed millions that come with being a first round pick, but for the most part, the feedback he heard was reassuring.

“You gotta grind now.”

“You made your decision, you made your bed, now you have to lay in it.”

“You know what you got to do.”

And that’s part of where being ready for the NBA comes into play.

Ask Williams what he needs to do to be successful at the next level, to prove that he can be more than just an athlete, and he’ll tell you that it’s developing his perimeter skills. Making corner threes and trail threes. Improving his handle and his footwork to the point that he is a threat as a face-up four. But if you ask Kennedy what the next step for Williams is, this is his answer: “Just getting to where he’s working out more, learning how to work at a higher level, and that’s something that he’s gotten better at.”

Williams didn’t need to work all that hard to dominate in high school, not with his physical gifts and not with the level of competition that he was facing. The same can mostly be said his his time as a freshman in the SEC. As Mike Schmitz, a scout working for Draft Express and ESPN, put it, Williams “is very much living off his elite physical tools.”

As the saying goes, you don’t know what hard work is until you see someone working harder than you, and there is no better role model for Williams than junior center Tyler Davis, who has streamlined what was once a 300 pound frame into a chiseled, 260-pound rock. He has “the best work ethic I’ve ever seen,” Williams says, and that’s rubbing off on him. Williams says he’s working out two or three times a day, doing conditioning with the team at 6 am before heading off to the gym at 8 am to work on his stroke — form-shooting, making 25 shots from each spot out to the foul line; step-in mid-range jumpers; trail threes — and closing the day with pickup or more skill-work in the afternoon.

The way he sees it, he can’t control injuries — although he has taken out an insurance policy on the off-chance he does something catastrophic — but he can control the work he puts in. Put another way, he is the one that will determine where he ends up. “My mindset,” Williams said, “is as long as you put in the work, results will come.”

And maybe those results will get him some notoriety on campus at a football school.

“Some people recognize me on campus, but it’s all football at A&M,” he said. “They say hi, ask for a picture, but people actually think I’m a mean guy. They don’t understand, I’m a people person! I like people!”

So say hi to Williams if you see him this year.

You won’t have a chance to do so much longer.

Texas A&M Athletics

VIDEO: Grayson Allen, Trevon Duval get in on #DriveByDunkChallenge

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Trevon Duval, the point guard that will finally replace Tyus Jones at Duke, and Grayson Allen added their flare on the #DriveByDunkChallenge, as Allen throws a picture perfect alley-oop through the sun-roof of the car Duval is driving:

This is solid work, but I still think Scott Cross has the best #DriveByDunkChallenge performance in the collegiate ranks. John Calipari’s effort is solid, but pretty awkward. He shouldn’t be running or jumping.