UAA The Finals Thursday Recap: Josh Jackson vs. Jaylen Brown highlights the day

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SUWANEE, Ga. — The highlight of Thursday’s action at the Under Armour Association’s final summer tournament, The Finals, was a matchup between Jaylen Brown, the No. 3 recruit in the Class of 2015, and Josh Jackson, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2016.

The gym was packed with coaches to see a battle between arguably the two best wings in high school basketball regardless of age group, and the pair did not fail to disappoint.

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Brown was on fire early, hitting four catch-and-shoot threes from four different spots on the floor in the first half, finishing with 18 points as his Game Elite team jumped out to a big lead over Jackson’s 1 Nation squad. It was clear early on that Jackson was pressing — his team did not have as much talent on the roster as Brown’s — and it manifested himself as tough shots, quick threes and an early benching.

Late in the first half, Jackson began to assert his will on the game. He made a handful of beautiful passes in transition, he started making his presence felt on the glass and he even had a LeBron-esque chasedown block. In the end, Brown won the scoring battle — he finished with 26 points while Jackson had 14 — but Jackson’s team got the win in the end as Jackson played a better overall game in the second half.

It was an odd way for things to end. Jackson is generally known as the better perimeter scorer, a smooth athlete that can get buckets at all three levels while finding assists and contributing on the glass. He did most of his damage in the paint on Thursday, while Brown — whose reputation is of that as a more physical, interior player developing his perimeter game — did most of his damage from beyond the arc.

At the end of the day, both Brown and Jackson did exactly what the AAU trail is designed for: they both played well in front of coaches like Roy Williams, John Calipari, Bill Self, Mark Fox and Steve Alford.

Keep an eye on Darius Perry: While the stars of the show were Brown and Jackson — and to a lesser extent Stanford commit Marcus Sheffield and Pitt commit Damon Wilson — 2017 shooting guard Darius Perry proved himself to be a name to be watched. He knocked down a trio of catch-and-shoot threes, two from well-beyond the three-point line, and also hit a mid-range pull-up jumper from the foul line.

Diamond Stone also plays well: I caught Stone’s final game of the day, as he squared off with Penn State-commit Mike Watkins and put together the most impressive performance that I have seen from the big man to date. He knocked down a couple of trail-threes from the top of the key, make a couple of plays around the rim and had one startling crossover that led to a dunk over Watkins in a half-court possession.

Stone, who is ranked No. 6 in the Class of 2015 by Rivals, did not have an overly impressive performance in Philly last week for the Breakout Classic, but certainly made his presence known on Thursday. The Wisconsin-native has made a point to try and show off his perimeter ability this July, which is frustrating and promising at the same time: he does appear to be getting better with his ability to shoot the ball and face opponents up, but his biggest strength still lies in his back-to-the-basket game.

But hey, that’s really what AAU basketball is for, a chance for kids to try out moves they have been working on in games that, in all reality, don’t matter.

Chance Comanche vs. Doral Moore fizzles: The other elite big man matchup of Thursday came between Doral Moore, No. 38 in the Class of 2015, and Chance Comanche, No. 21 in the same class. Moore is the more physically imposing center of the two, but he has limited post moves and a motor that leaves much to be desired. He did show off his overwhelming ceiling with a massive dunk over Comanche in the second half.

To be fair, Comanche did not play all that well himself. He’s got a decent ability to finish in the post, a solid 15-footer and the length and athleticism to finish above the rim, particularly in transition, but he needs to add strength. He was a bit overwhelmed by the size of Moore and his front court mate, Tim Rowe.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.