Seven takeaways from the adidas Unrivaled Camp

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The first of July’s three live periods ended at 5:00 p.m. Sunday. Each of our writers were at an event last week, and each will be giving you seven takeaways from those events. 

RELATEDSeven takeaways from the LeBron James Skills Academy | And from Breakout Classic

CHICAGO — The adidas Unrivaled Camp at the Quest Multisport in Chicago gave a number of high-level players the chance to compete in a big camp for the first week of the July live evaluation period. With Nike running the LeBron James Skills Academy and Reebok hosting a camp during the first period as well, adidas had a strong showing with their inaugural event and it was littered with top-100 players from multiple classes.

Although the biggest news of the event was top-10 small forward Ray Smith tearing the ACL in his left knee, the camp also had a lot of breakout performances and a lot of major head coaches in attendance to watch five-star prospects like Jaylen Brown, Chase Jeter and Brandon Ingram.

1. Brandon Ingram makes a case for All-American status: There’s a long way to go in the July evaluation period, but no player did more to enhance their stock at the adidas Unrivaled Camp than North Carolina native and five-star wing Brandon Ingram. The 6-foot-8 Ingram was already the No. 25 overall player in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals, but he never played with as much confidence as he did during the week in Chicago. Ingram went toe-to-toe against top-five wing Jaylen Brown twice in Chicago and had great outings in both games. The concern for Ingram has always been consistency and playing against physical competition, but he answered some of those questions with his play at adidas.

2. Chase Jeter performs like a top-ten prospect: Top-ten Class of 2015 big man Chase Jeter had a strong spring on the adidas Gauntlet and that play carried over into a good week in Chicago. The 6-foot-10 native of Las Vegas has continued to progress with his go-to move of the right-handed hook shot and he’s improved his position on defense and as a rebounder. The USA Basketball experience that Jeter faced this summer has helped him both mentally and with his game and he’s playing with a lot of confidence.

3. The 2015 class is not as strong as the past few classes: While Class of 2015 prospects like Jaylen Brown, Deng Adel and Jalen Adams had solid weeks at adidas, this class of top 100 prospects, as a whole, doesn’t match up to any of the classes we’ve seen in the past few years. There are plenty of talented players that will do a lot of damage as freshmen in power conferences, but we shouldn’t be hearing the phrase “one-and-done” muttered with any of these guys with any sort of seriousness. Of course, that could change as we get through this group’s senior season and with a full year of college basketball — they are still young, after all — but the collective ceiling for this group isn’t nearly as high as 2013 or 2014 when it comes to maximum potential.

MOREAll our content from the 2014 July Live Recruiting Period

4. Outside of the dearth of elite big men in 2015, there aren’t many left: If you look at the top of the rankings for the Class of 2015, you’ll notice a lot of elite big men and front-court players littering the list. But after the top 30, or so, there’s a significant drop-off in the level of talent of the remaining big men in the class. College coaches have noticed this and they’re planning accordingly. It’s why Chase Jeter is attracting three coaches from Duke for two days worth of games and why other high-major college coaches are scrambling to find big bodies that can play. Fringe top-150 big men at adidas Unrivaled drew a lot of high-major assistant coaches hoping to find a diamond in the rough. While there might not have been a Ted Kapita-at-LeBron type of rise among the other big men at adidas, a couple of big guys like Texas natives Ricky Brice Jr., and Dante Williams showed some upside going forward.

5. The 2016 class has some talented guards: Kobi Simmons and Rawle Alkins both had fantastic weeks at adidas Unrivaled and the two tall and athletic guards both have bright futures. The 6-foot-5 Simmons is an open-floor dynamo and he’s nearly impossible to stop in transition with the ball in his hands. The Georgia native fits the recent mold of tall and athletic guards that have taken the college basketball world — and NBA Draft lottery — by storm. Not saying he’s that type of talent yet, but he’s in a similar mold. Alkins, on the other hand, is just a 6-foot-4 basketball player. The New York native is rugged like many of the city’s great guards before him and he can play either guard spot. Although his jumper can stand to improve, Alkins is a beast 15 feet-and-in and scores in so many unique ways. He has the athleticism to make plays at the rim while also having off-hand hooks on smaller guards and scoop shots off glass. Both guards were a lot of fun to watch and other 2016 guards with solid weeks included Indiana native Kyle Guy, Oregon native Payton Pritchard and Ohio native Jarron Cumberland.

6. Where have all the shooters gone?: This has been talked about by many of my colleagues that are recruiting analysts, but there just doesn’t seem to be that many high-level perimeter shooters in high school basketball. The adidas Camp made this painfully obvious at certain points. I watched one camp game where four three-pointers were hoisted in the first half and none of them drew iron. And most of the kids on the floor were in the top-150 range. Just because a player can make a three-pointer doesn’t mean he should be taking a three-pointer and too many players are practicing poor shot selection to go along with a glaring lack of shooting fundamentals. There were some ugly-looking jumpers being thrown up this week.

7. Camps are the new model for the first period in July: With Nike, Reebok and adidas all going with the camp model for high-major players, camps have become the basis of how recruiting gets done during the first July live evaluation period. This is a good and bad thing. It’s great for players who are invited because they get to play alongside talented peers in front of a bevy of college coaches but it’s also bad because the camp setting isn’t great for some types of players. Some players don’t mesh well with the teammates that they’ll have for only a few days and there aren’t many complicated plays or sets being run throughout the course of camp games. Big men can easily get frozen out for minutes at a time and you won’t find many shooters running around multiple off-ball screens — yet another reason why shooters were hard to come by this week.

ACC coaches back idea of all D-I teams in 2021 NCAA tourney

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball coaches are pushing the idea of having next year’s NCAA Tournament include all eligible teams in Division I.

Numerous league schools and coaches released statements Wednesday after the coaches held their weekly call to discuss the proposal, which was first reported by Stadium. There are 357 Division I programs in the country, with NCAA spokeswoman Meghan Durham saying 346 of those are eligible to play in next year’s tournament.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said the ACC coaches are “united in strongly pursuing this” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that led to the cancellation of last year’s NCAA Tournament days before the field of 68 was set to be revealed. Multiple coaches said creating an everybody-gets-in format would be an incentive for schools as they create the safest conditions possible for returning to play.

“This is not a regular season,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “It is clearly an irregular season that will require something different. Our sport needs to be agile and creative. Most importantly, an all-inclusive postseason tournament will allow a unique and unprecedented opportunity for every team and every student-athlete to compete for a national championship.”

Durham declined comment specifically on the proposal in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday. Last month, NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said the Division I oversight committees for men’s and women’s basketball planned to announce by mid-September plans for whether the season and preseason practice would start on time or require a delay due to the pandemic.

Louisville coach Chris Mack said the proposal would provide flexibility during the season without mandating a number of nonconference or conference games to be played. And the league has already experienced that scheduling challenge with football and other fall sports.

The ACC announced in July that it would have each football team play 10 league games – including the addition of Notre Dame as a football member this year – and one nonconference game to be played in the home state of the member school. Those schedules were released in early August, slightly more than a month before Thursday’s UAB-Miami game kicks off the season.

“This is a time to think differently,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said, adding: “After all these players have been through, what better way to reward them than the opportunity to compete in an unprecedented version of the most exciting event in sports.”

College basketball floats idea of bubbles for safe season

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The NBA bubble has held. So has the NHL’s double bubble. The WNBA and MLS, no leaks.

In this unprecedented landscape of sports in a pandemic world, one indisputable fact has emerged: bubbles work.

Thousands of tests, minimal to no positive COVID-19 test results.

So as the NCAA gets set announce its plans for the 2020-21 college basketball season, there are clear precedents and blueprints in place should it decide to go the bubble route.

“It’s certainly viable,” said Mark Starsiak, vice president of sports at Intersport, a Chicago-based sports marketing and media agency, “From a basketball standpoint, I think we can follow those models.”

The college football restart has been scattershot. The season has already started, yet 53 FBS schools have the pads and helmets hanging on hooks while waiting for better pandemic news.

A much more unified plan is in place for the college basketball season.

The NCAA is hoping to start the season in late November/early December, with a vote by the Division I council expected Sept. 16.

A partnership between the Pac-12 and Quidel Corp. to potentially do daily, rapid COVID-19 tests on athletes should help smooth a return to the court.

The question then becomes: What’s the best way to safely play basketball again?

Bubbles may be the answer.

While bubble football would be next to impossible logistically, basketball could fit nicely.

The travel parties are much smaller and college basketball already has plenty of multiple-team events, from holiday and conference tournaments to the NCAA Tournament. Add the effective safety measures of the pro leagues, find suitable sites and bubble basketball could work.

The NCAA is already looking at it, reportedly filing a trademark for the phrase “Battle in the Bubble.” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont also said there have been preliminary talks for bubble basketball at the Mohegan Sun resort.

“The idea of a bubble would be a really good idea, just to isolate all the teams who want to play against each other in that bubble and keep things safe, keep away from the public and keep us in our own area where we’re able to play the game the right way and safely,” Duke sophomore forward Wendell Moore, Jr. said.

A big key will be finding the right places to bubble.

The NBA has the ideal setup at Disney World, but college basketball might be better suited to follow the NHL’s lead.

Hockey’s two bubbles – Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta – cordoned off areas enclosing the arena and several nearby hotels. All personnel entering are tested and strict protocols are in place for vendors delivering food and packages into the bubbles.

Similar bubbles for college basketball could be set up at smaller resorts, cities with arenas and hotels nearby, or Division II or III schools with arenas not being used during the pandemic.

The NCAA could set up pods of multiple nonconference teams, conference tournaments could be held in similar fashion and so could the NCAA Tournament.

In other words, basketball bubbles could pop up all over the country.

“Maybe do it for maybe a week or two at a time, playing a certain amount of games and getting retested after you come back or something like that,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said. “It’s possible, but it’s not going to be easy.”

Pulling off a college basketball bubble, however, comes with a caveat.

NCAA players are considered students, so academics would have to be part of the equation.

Division I players are already accustomed to doing school work on the road and the majority take primarily online classes. To make the bubbles work, socially distant space would have to be carved out for the players to take their classes and study.

The programs may also have to rethink the size of their traveling parties.

“Discussions about the right amount of tutors or academic staff would need to take place,” said Starsiak, who has operated high-level sports and entertainment events for 15 years. ”

You have to look at, do we need three managers this time around? No, probably not. Do you take two and have a tutor or an academic come with us? Yeah, I think you could. I think there’s a way to kind of combine both things to have some live, in-person resources.”

The NCAA is going to do everything possible to have a basketball season.

The pandemic wiped out the NCAA Tournament last spring and the NCAA collected $270 million in cancellation insurance instead of the $1 billion TV payout it normally gets. A second straight year without March Madness could be devastating.

Bubbles may be the way to go.

‘Father of the Final Four’ Tom Jernestedt dies at 75

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INDIANAPOLIS — Tom Jernstedt, a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame for his contributions to college basketball and the NCAA Tournament, has died. He was 75.

The NCAA said Sunday Jernstedt died this weekend.

Nicknamed “Father of the Final Four,” Jernstedt has widely been credited with transforming the NCAA Tournament into the billion-dollar March Madness it has become today.

“A decade after his departure from the NCAA, Tom Jernstedt’s fingertips remain visible during March Madness and the Final Four,” NCAA senior vice president Dan Gavitt said in a statement. “His innovation and superb ability to develop relationships turned a basketball tournament into a three-week phenomenon that became a global event.”

A former back-up quarterback, Jernstedt worked his first Final Four in 1973 and helped push the growth of the NCAA Tournament from 25 teams to the 68, anything-can-happen bonanza held every spring.

Jernstedt helped the NCAA increase its television contract from just over $1 million to more than $10 billion when he left in 2011. He served as president of USA Basketball, was a member of the College Football Selection committee and was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame as a contributor in 2017.

“Tom Jernstedt was a humble and unsung steward of the game,” John L. Doleva, president and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame, said in a statement. “Under his direction, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament grew into a phenomenon that brings college basketball fans together on a global scale. He will forever be remembered as the Father of the Final Four and one of the most respected leaders in basketball.”

Jernstedt established himself as a team leader despite being a backup quarterback at Oregon from 1964-66 and went on to serve as the Ducks’ events manager. He joined the NCAA in 1972 and spent 38 years with the organization.

“Tom served as a friend and mentor to countless people in and around collegiate athletics, and I’m proud to be among that vast group of people,” Gavitt said. “His legacy within the NCAA and its membership, and his impact on the sport of college basketball, is eternal. We extend our deepest condolences to Tom’s family.”

Aztecs extend Brian Dutcher’s contract 3 years through 2026

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SAN DIEGO — San Diego State basketball coach Brian Dutcher has signed a three-year contract extension through the 2025-26 season.

Dutcher signed the deal following one of the most successful seasons in school history. The Aztecs went 30-2, won the Mountain West regular-season title and were expected to be a No. 1 or 2 seed before the NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. They opened the season 26-0 and were the nation’s last undefeated team.

“Having spent more than 20 years at San Diego State University I understand what a special place this is,” Dutcher said in a statement Friday. “I am humbled and honored to continue to represent SDSU and Aztec Basketball as its head coach.”

Dutcher is 73-26 in three seasons, the most victories by an Aztecs coach in his first three seasons. He spent 18 seasons as Steve Fisher’s top assistant, including six as associate head coach/head coach in waiting. He took over as head coach after Fisher retired following the 2016-17 season. The Aztecs reached the NCAA Tournament in his first season.

Before that, he spent 10 seasons with Fisher at Michigan. In Dutcher’s first season with the Wolverines, Fisher was promoted to interim head coach on the eve of the NCAA Tournament and won the national championship.

Indiana halts all voluntary workouts

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Indiana has halted all voluntary workouts indefinitely for its men’s basketball, field hockey, men’s soccer and wrestling teams after 14 participants tested positive for the coronavirus this week.

The Hoosiers did not identify which teams recorded the positive tests. The football team, like other Big Ten programs, is not playing this fall. Indiana said 63 positives have been reported from more than 1,400 tests of athletes, coaches and staff since June 8.

“Our athletic program is following strict protocols during these unprecedented times and we strongly support our medical staff as we try and mitigate this issue,” men’s basketball coach Archie Miller said.