College basketball’s summer evaluation period changes every so often, in terms of dates, places and teams. One of the few constants on the scene, though, has been the fact that late July puts Las Vegas on center stage as the epicenter of the recruiting trail.
This year is no different as no less than three high-octane traveling team tournaments and one event aimed at junior college prospects will grace far flung gyms across the Las Vegas desert, with over a thousand teams in attendance from Wednesday through Sunday.
The 2012 edition of the final evaluation period in July features the adidas Super 64, Las Vegas Fab 48 and the Las Vegas Classic all running in conjunction. The top adidas sponsored squads in the nation will be present at the Super 64, while the Fab 48 is headed by Bishop Gorman (Nev.) coach Grant Rice and Belmont Shore club coach Dinos Trigonis, who also heads the Pangos All American camp. This is the second year of the Las Vegas Classic, which is put on by Bigfoot Hoops, a new company that has Hal Pastner (father of Memphis coach Josh Pastner) in charge.
With a proven stable of talent, the “super pool” format of the adidas Super 64, which pits pre-seeded elite teams against each other, is arguably the most loaded of the three events, though hundreds of D-1 prospects will be present at the other two tournaments.
Here’s a look at the three-headed monster of Las Vegas tournaments this week and weekend:
Adidas Super 64
Rancho High School in North Las Vegas is the home court for the adidas Super 64, as always. The champions from the adidas Invitational earlier in July, Florida Elite, which features two early Florida commits in top-10 prospects Kasey Hill and Chris Walker, have to be the prohibitive favorite to win. Still, their own pool features Urban DFW (two top-50 post players in Jordan Mickey and Karviar Shepherd), Eric Gordan All-Stars (several Big Ten commits on the roster) and the Atlanta Celtics (with Kansas pledge Brannen Greene and Georgia Tech-bound Solomon Poole). North Carolina pledge Isaiah Hicks will lead Garner Road into action, and elite 2014 power forward Noah Vonleh heads up the talented Mass Rivals. Other 17U teams to watch include Dream Vision Elite of California and New Heights of New York City.
Las Vegas Fab 48
Hosted on the palatial campus at Bishop Gorman High School, this year’s event has a good mix of Under Armour, Reebok and non-affiliated teams. North Carolina bound Nate Britt and the DC Assault squad could be considered the favorites, but the strong collection of Tennessee talent playing for M33M that includes power forward Austin Nichols and shooting guard Robert Hubbs could also have a say. There are a number of top prospects on the other 46 teams, but don’t rule out the hometown Las Vegas Prospects, with UNLV pledge Chris Wood, as defending their home turf. The “host” team, Belmont Shore, with Harvard commit Zena Edosomwan, would love to win this one.
Las Vegas Classic
Set at Durango High School, the Las Vegas Classic is already making waves after two Nike Elite Youth Basketball Teams, the Oakland Soliders and Mac Irvin Fire, made their way to the Classic following playing in the Fab 48 last year. While Jabari Parker won’t be present for the Mac Irvin Fire, they and the Soldiers project as two of the top teams in the event, as do fellow Nike league participants the California Supreme and Houston Hoops. Fast rising power forward Jarell Martin of Louisiana Elite will attract numerous college coaches as he continues his rise up through the top-25 player rankings in the 2013 class. It should be interesting to see if the Oakland Soldiers have any letdown following their Peach Jam title, which saw elite 2013 forward Aaron Gordon return from an injury that sidelined him most of the spring and early summer.
There will be hundreds upon hundreds of college coaches in Las Vegas tracking down talent, and while many will complain about the distance between gyms in Sin City, there’s no doubt that the desert will have tons of elite talent on hand. The three tournaments are veritable one stop evaluation grounds for many programs who can concentrate on teams in the west or have only a few scholarships to offer, and there’s no doubt that many prospects will capitalize on the last opportunity to seen by coaches this summer.
Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.