Jayson Tatum

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 guard Frank Jackson commits to Duke

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Frank Jackson, a top-10 recruit in the Class of 2016, committed to Duke on Tuesday night, announcing his decision from Lone Peak High School in Highland, Utah.

Duke is in the midst of a monster recruiting class. It began on July 12 when elite wing Jayson Tatum, rated No. 3 overall by Rivals, committed to Duke. The 6-foot-4 Jackson follows Tatum to Durham, picking the Blue Devils over BYU, Stanford and Utah.

The Blue Devils aren’t done here. They are also in contention for Harry Giles, the No. 2 overall play in the Class of 2016. The 6-foot-10 Giles is a North Carolina native and close friend of Tatum. Duke is also on the final list of schools for five-star big men, Marques Bolden and Wenyen Gabriel.

Jackson’s commitment adds to an already loaded perimeter attack for Coach K in 2016-17. Duke’s back court of Grayson Allen, Matt Jones, Luke Kennard and Derryck Thornton could all return. Jackson will likely see time on and off the ball, as Thornton isn’t expected to turn pro after his freshman season.

Playing for the Utah Prospects in the adidas Gauntlet series, Jackson averaged 24.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, shooting 54 percent from the field. His summer ended with an MVP performance at the Under Armour Elite 24.

Jordan Barnes’ double-clutch three sends St. Louis Eagles to Peach Jam title game (VIDEO)

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Sunday afternoon the CP3 All-Stars and St. Louis Eagles met in the semifinals of the EYBL Finals at the Nike Peach Jam in North Augusta, South Carolina, with the headliners being 2016 prospects Harry Giles (CP3) and Jayson Tatum (St. Louis Eagles). Of course there was also the matter of Tatum making his college decision following the game, as he chose Duke on national television.

While those were the major plots in this one, there was also the game itself. CP3 All-Stars led by double figures for a significant stretch of the game, with the Eagles making a furious comeback in the second half. But down by two with 4.8 seconds remaining the Eagles still needed a shot to either send the game into overtime or win it.

With Tatum being taken away the ball wound up in the hands of 2016 guard Jordan Barnes, who took off down the court and hit a double-clutch three-pointer from the right elbow as time expired to give the Eagles a 74-73 win. Above is video of the shot, as filmed by NextUpRecruits.

That was Barnes’ second game-winning shot of the weekend, and as a result the Eagles advanced to take on the Georgia Stars in the title game (which was won by the Stars). According to Rivals.com, the Christian Brothers College HS (St. Louis) guard holds offers from Arkansas State, Indiana State, IUPUI, Missouri State and South Alabama.

Duke still in driver’s seat of elite recruiting with commitment of five-star wing Jayson Tatum

Jayson Tatum (Getty Images)
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source: Getty Images
Jayson Tatum (Getty Images)

Duke landing a verbal commitment from prized five-star wing Jayson Tatum at Peach Jam Sunday morning is nothing new for the Blue Devils when it comes to recruiting. Mike Krzyzewski has been bringing blue-chip players to Durham since before Tatum was born. But by landing the St. Louis native and No. 3 overall player in the Class of 2016, the Blue Devils are sending a major warning shot that could have a large ripple effect in elite recruiting for this star-studded 2016 class.

The 6-foot-8 Tatum is part of a very strong top of the class and he’s the type of wing who could be a one-and-done player like Jabari Parker, Justise Winslow and potentially Brandon Ingram preceding him. Think about that for a second. The Blue Devils could potentially have four consecutive one-and-done players who pretty much played the same position.

And that’s not even considering the other integral parts of those Duke rosters that they built through quick recruiting.

Duke has sustained success in recent years by feasting on the one-and-done recruits that were previously running to Kentucky to play for John Calipari, culminating in the 2015 national title as Winslow, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones all became first-round NBA draft picks after one year in school.

With Coach K’s title pedigree at Duke and USA Basketball background, he has carved out a prime spot at the elite recruiting table and this 2016 class could be his best group yet. When you factor in Duke having back-to-back No. 1 recruiting classes to begin with, this is no small feat.

The Tatum pledge means the Blue Devil coaching staff can now spend more time chasing other five-star prospects in the Class of 2016 to join him like five-star power forward Harry Giles, five-star point guard Dennis Smith and an additional big man. Both Giles and Smith happen to be North Carolina natives.

Much has been made of Giles and Tatum being a “package deal” but that’s simply a mislabeled term for the USA Basketball teammates’ general interest in playing with each other in college. Giles never considered Saint Louis and Tatum wasn’t considering some of the schools on Harry’s radar when Tatum released a final four of Duke, Saint Louis, North Carolina and Kentucky earlier this spring. So a “package” isn’t what the two friends are doing. They’re each making independent school lists and decisions.

But that doesn’t mean that Giles and Tatum haven’t spoken about joining forces in the ACC to play for Duke and it could end up happening since the duo has been close through their gold-medal winning experiences with the USA team the past few summers. With so much success already, the duo might want to try their hand at winning a national championship together and playing together at Duke could be the option that Tatum and Giles believe is the best option.

Smith is another development in the 2016 recruiting frenzy as Coach K and assistants Jeff Capel and Jon Scheyer all came to watch Smith’s Team Loaded North Carolina play on Wednesday night during the opening night of the July live evaluation period. Sending three coaches to one game is usually a strong message of an all-out effort to land a prospect, but keep in mind that many of Duke’s primary Class of 2016 targets were playing in the Nike Peach Jam, which didn’t tip 17U action until Thursday night while the adidas Gauntlet began play Wednesday night. Before July started, Smith indicated that Duke was still in the picture along with Florida, Kansas, Louisville, NC State, North Carolina and Wake Forest.

There are still many dominoes to fall before Duke would potentially cement a third consecutive No. 1 recruiting class, but landing Tatum puts them in prime position to do so. The Blue Devils already have one top-five 2016 national target in the fold and they are in very good position for Giles and Smith, the two in-state top-five prospects, as they’re also after other five-star 2016 targets such as guard Frank Jackson and center Marques Bolden.

Time will tell if Coach K can pull off potentially his greatest recruiting class of all time, but Tatum is certainly the start that Duke was looking for.

Top 10 plays from the FIBA U19 World Championships

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The USA U19 team captured gold at the FIBA World Championships on Sunday with a 79-71 overtime win over Croatia inside the Heraklion Indoor Sports Arena on the island of Crete in Greece.

It was the first time since 1983 that the USA U19 team captured back-to-back titles at the FIBA World Championships. Jalen Brunson, the incoming Villanova point guard was named MVP while rising high school senior Harry Gile was named to the all-tournament team. Both were included in some of the top plays from the World Championships.

But it was Jayson Tatum’s posterization in the semifinals that wound up being the best play from the global event.

United States advances to FIBA U19 World Championships gold medal game

Jalen Brunson
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Saturday’s semifinal matchup with Greece was expected to be the United States U19 team’s most difficult game to date at the FIBA U19 World Championships for multiple reasons. Not only were the Greeks playing in front of a partisan crowd in Heraklion, Crete, Greece, but they also possessed size in the post and perimeter talent capable of giving Sean Miller’s team trouble.

Thanks to players such as Tyler Dorsey and Georgios Papagiannis the Greeks hung around throughout, but in the end the United States proved to be too much. Villanova guard Jalen Brunson once again led the way from the point, scoring 30 points and dishing out four assists in the 82-76 victory.

Next up for the United States is Croatia, which blew out Turkey 91-56 in Saturday’s other semifinal, in the gold medal game Sunday afternoon.

Brunson was joined in double figures by three 2016 prospects, as Harry Giles scored 13 points (and grabbed 11 rebounds) and Jayson Tatum and Terrance Ferguson added 11 apiece. Turnovers were once again an issue for the Americans, as they handed the ball over on the first two possessions of the game and finished with 22, but Greece managed just eight points off turnovers.

The United States shot 52.4 percent inside of the arc and scored 38 points in the paint, areas in which they held a clear advantage over Greece. Dorsey led the hosts with 23 points and Vasilis Charalampopoulos added 21, making five of his eight shots from beyond the arc, but Greece could get no closer than three points in the second half. A Tatum three-point play with just under a minute remaining essentially sealed the game for the United States.

Sunday’s matchup with Croatia is a rematch of a group play meeting the United States won by 22 points. But at that point in the event Croatia was just getting used to not having highly-regarded forward Dragan Bender, who wasn’t allowed to play due to a sneaker dispute (he’s sponsored by adidas, the Croatian basketball federation requires players to wear Jordan/Nike).

Since then they haven’t lost a game, winning four straight with their seven-point Round of 16 win over China being the lone single-digit victory. 7-footer Ivica Zubac (18.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg) leads the team in scoring and has been one of the best players in the tournament.