Dennis Smith

Harry Giles (Getty Images)

Josh Jackson, Harry Giles stay at top of new Rivals150 Class of 2016 national rankings

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Rivals unveiled its new Class of 2016 national rankings in the latest Rivals150 and the top four players are staying the same. Detroit wing Josh Jackson, North Carolina forward Harry Giles, St. Louis wing Jayson Tatum (Duke) and North Carolina point guard Dennis Smith remain the top four players in the class while Texas native De’Angelo Fox moves up to the No. 5 spot.

Jackson and Giles have battled for the No. 1 spot hard the past few months and national analysts seem split on who to put at No. 1. Fox also made a late push to dethrone Smith as the No. 1 point guard. This national Class of 2016 is considered by many to be one of the most talented classes of the last 20 years.

The group has a strong crop of point guards, as noted by Rivals national recruiting analyst Eric Bossi. Of the top 60 players in the 2016 class, seventeen players are point guards, which will really help college basketball when those players enter.

You can view the new Rivals150 here.

Five-star point guard Dennis Smith Jr. out six-to-nine months with torn ACL

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North Carolina native and five-star Class of 2016 point guard Dennis Smith Jr. recently had surgery on his left knee and a source confirmed with NBCSports.com that Smith has a torn ACL. The explosive 6-foot-2 point guard hurt his knee towards the end of adidas Nations early last week before having surgery to repair his knee late last week.

Smith’s father told ESPN.com that Smith Jr. will be out for six-to-nine months as he recovers and rehabs from the injury.

Regarded as the top point guard in the class, according to Rivals, Smith is from Fayetteville, North Carolina. The No. 4 overall prospect recently cut his recruiting list to Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, N.C. State, North Carolina and Wake Forest.

As a player who uses a lot of athleticism and moves to finish around the rim, it’ll be important to see how Smith bounces back from this injury because of his aggressive style of play. Since he’s still young and has a full season before he plays college basketball, Smith’s ACL injury shouldn’t hurt his standing once he enters the college game next fall.

Ball is Life offers a unique look at the Under Armour Association, road to Elite 24, in new video

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With the grassroots circuit winding down and camp season in place, Ball is Life did a really cool documentary-style look at the Under Armour Association and some of its star players going to the Elite 24 in New York later this month. The mixtape maker took interviews and highlights of five-star prospects like Josh Jackson, Terrance Ferguson, Dennis Smith and Trevon Duval in this video that lasts a little bit over 15 minutes.

This gives a fun account of what some of the grassroots circuit is like during the spring and this is a cool video of some of the best players in the country.

Four players stay atop the latest Rivals 2016 rankings

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The first of three live periods begins on July 8 at 5 p.m.

In preparation for the July live period, Rivals released an updated version of the Class of 2016 rankings. However, there was no movement through the top-4. Josh Jackson (Prolific Prep), Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian), Jayson Tatum (Chaminade High) and Dennis Smith (Trinity Christian) remain as the top-4 prospects, in that order.

If you’ve watched Jackson, Giles and Tatum play in the FIBA U19 World Championships, or what Smith did to his fellow participants at Steph Curry’s SC30 Select Camp in the Bay Area this week, it’s easy to see why they retained their respective positions in the Class of 2016.

UCLA commit Lonzo Ball, the only player in the top-10 to give his verbal commitment at this point, checks in at No. 5 while Malik Monk, Edrice Adebayo and De’Aaron Fox stay in the bottom half of the top-10. After shining at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, Lone Peak High (Utah) point guard Frank Jackson checks in at No. 10, jumping 21 spots.

The full, updated list can be seen here.

Minneapolis EYBL Day 1: Harry Giles continues impressive spring, Dennis Smith and De’Aaron Fox battle

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Nike EYBL is playing its final spring session this weekend as the league’s teams fight for a spot in Peach Jam in July. Elite Class of 2016 forward Harry Giles continued a dominant spring while 2016’s best point guard, Dennis Smith, battled 2016’s best perimeter defender, De’Aaron Fox.

Harry Giles continues productive spring

As he attempts to play for the No. 1 spot in the Class of 2016, power forward and North Carolina native Harry Giles is continuing to put up monster numbers in the EYBL. Playing again with Team CP3, the 6-foot-10 Giles had 22 points, 13 rebounds and two steals in a close loss to the New York Lightning and it felt like he was even more productive than that.

Giles followed that loss up with 16 points and 10 rebounds in a win over the Jackson Tigers. While Giles has been consistently productive and great around the basket all spring, he’s continuing to work on his skill level away from the basket. Giles is starting to look more comfortable taking face-up jumpers and he’s showcased more-and-more moves as the spring has gone along.

Once he starts refining his interior floaters where he’s actually using his wrist and not trying to shot-put it into the basket, he’ll be even better.

De’Aaron Fox battles Dennis Smith

It’s always fun to compare and contrast players at the same position who are both All-American caliber players in the same class. When Team Penny and 2016’s top point guard, Dennis Smith, battled Houston Hoops and 2016’s top perimeter defender, De’Aaron Fox it gave a chance to see how they would fare against each other.

The head-to-head battle between the two five-star guards was fun to witness because they guarded each other most of the time they were on the floor. While Smith did a great job of operating high ball screens and making plays to the tune of 17 points, five rebounds and four rebounds, it was Fox who made more plays in overtime as he tallied 19 points, seven assists, six rebounds and five steals.

The head-to-head battle was closer to a draw than a win for either side, but Fox did as good of a job of containing Smith as anyone has all spring.

Also playing well in the game were a pair of Class of 2017 top-100 forwards in Penny’s P.J. Washington and Houston’s Jarred Vanderbilt. The five-star Vanderbilt had 21 points and 10 rebounds and also defended all five positions while the four-star Washington had 24 points and 18 rebounds.

Seven takeaways from the Houston EYBL session

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HOUSTON — The third session of the Nike EYBL in Houston is always one of the best weekends for learning about high school basketball prospects in the country. The timing of the weekend — in which no other shoe company events are being held — means players from other leagues will pop up and find an EYBL team for the weekend. Since there have been two previous sessions of EYBL play, every player is pretty much adjusted to the level of play by the third session. It’s also the first EYBL session without the college coaches in attendance, so you see which guys are continuing production without them watching.

1. Harry Giles had a tremendous weekend and will push hard for No. 1 in 2016

Harry Giles had a huge weekend in Houston and had three very good games after missing Friday night due to a test he needed to take. The five-star, No. 2 overall player in the class, according to Rivals, is leading the EYBL in rebounding at 10.5 per game and he does a great job quickly getting off the floor to snatch up rebounds. Playing without his knee brace after a torn ACL over a year ago, Giles looked very comfortable this weekend and at 6-foot-10, he has has a chance to be the No. 1 player in the 2016 class. There just aren’t many forwards who compete and play intelligent ball the way Giles plays. He could still stand to protect the rim a little bit better, but Giles is even improving his shooting range by hitting some 3-pointers during EYBL play.

2. The intelligence and efficiency of Jayson Tatum is something to admire

Five-star wing Jayson Tatum is a well-known, top-five player in the 2016 class, but it’s easy to overlook how efficient he can be sometimes. The St. Louis native does have issues with turnovers from time-to-time (usually trying to force something from being constantly double teamed) but he takes smart shots and gets to the free-throw line far more than anyone else in the league. Through three sessions of EYBL play, Tatum has made 99 free throws and his next closest competitor is at 74. He’s second in the league in scoring at 22.2 per game and he does a great job drawing fouls and getting to the line, where he shoots 86 percent. With Tatum struggling from 3-point range this spring — he only attempted one 3-pointer in four games this weekend — he has still played at a very high level. His skill level on the wing is tremendous and Tatum will be very dangerous on the offensive end if he develops his outside shot.

3. Dennis Smith can get it done with any team

Over the weekend, Dennis Smith showed that he can also stand out in the EYBL as he made a weekend appearance with Team Penny. The electric, five-star point guard played more off the ball for the team and averaged 15 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2 assists per game playing only 19.5 minutes per game in four games this weekend. After a first-game adjustment period where Smith had a bit of a tough time getting comfortable with his new teammates, he poured in a big game on Saturday night that included a huge dunk. At the college level and beyond, Smith is probably best suited as a point guard who is a terror on high ball screens, but it was nice to see him play off the ball and do some work as well. Smith also played the passing lanes well and averaged 3 steals per game and guarded some bigger opponents and held his own thanks to his athleticism. He’s looking like a legitimate top-five prospect in the Class of 2016 going forward.

4. Freshman Marvin Bagley is generating huge buzz

Class of 2018 power forward Marvin Bagley isn’t playing on the 17U stage of the Nike EYBL, but his We All Can Go team is playing in 16U events with other Nike teams. Every time someone would come from the 16U event nearby this weekend, they would leave buzzing about the skilled, left-handed 6-foot-10 power forward, who some believe is the best prospect in the country regardless of class. Of the group of scouts that have seen Bagley, there is a consensus forming that Bagley is at least a top-five prospect in all of high school basketball and the No. 1 player in the 2018 class. The Arizona native already owns multiple high-major scholarship offers from his time in middle school and has a lot of upside going forward. Check out his ridiculous freshman year mixtape if you don’t believe me.

5. Texas is gaining a lot of recognition from elite prospects with Shaka Smart at the helm

One of the important things to track on the grassroots circuit in regards to recruiting in the spring is how often head coaches talk to certain players. New Texas head coach Shaka Smart is aggressively pursuing numerous national-level prospects and every time a Texas target speaks to members of the media, they usually mention talking directly to the head coach. Based on athlete response, Smart seems to get through to players more frequently than many other head coaches at that level, who often delegate initial recruiting to an assistant coach. The Texas fan base also seems to be enthusiastic about the arrival of Smart. In speaking with some local Texas media this weekend in Houston, the fan base is happy to have Smart in the picture and there is more of a demand for basketball and basketball recruiting coverage than the end of the Rick Barnes era. We’ll have to see if Smart’s persistence in calling recruits directly pays off in big commitments, but he seems to be off to a good start at Texas.

6. There are a lot of intriguing 2017 big men

The EYBL features a lot of intriguing big men in the 2017 class and there are many things to like with this group going forward. Miami native Zach Brown is a monster at 7-foot-1 and Georgia native Wendell Carter is skilled and improving rapidly at 6-foot-10. Both Brown and Carter are already established top-ten prospects while others like Illinois native Jeremiah Tilmon, New York native Nick Richards and California native Brandon McCoy all showed flashes of big upside over the weekend. And this group of sophomore big men doesn’t even include the No. 1 overall prospect in the class, DeAndre Ayton. Since all of these guys are only sophomores, it will be fun to see them develop and battle other elite big men this summer in the camp setting. Facing older and more experienced big men should be a good indicator of where some of these guys stand going forward.

7. Some 2016 guards are producing at a high level

While the 2016 class has a handful of elite-level guards, many low-end top-150 players are putting up big scoring numbers through the first three sessions of play. Class of 2017 guards Markus Howard and Trae Young have both put up a lot of shots, but also made a lot of shots this spring. Class of 2016 lead guards like New York native Shamorie Ponds and Indiana native C.J. Walker and New Jersey native Myles Powell have also scored at a solid clip as well. Of  the three 2016 guards just mentioned, only Ponds is a top-100 prospect and he comes in at No. 99 in Rivals‘ national rankings. There are plenty of capable guards in the lower end of the rankings that can hit shots and produce. Can they sustain this kind of production beyond 12 games? The live evaluation period in July will give us that answer.