Seven Observations from NBPA Top 100 Camp

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The NBPA Top 100 Camp finished up over the weekend as a lot of top prospects gathered for one of the best gatherings of talented players each year. With coaching and development from former NBA players and coaches, the camp provides a valuable learning experience for the players who are involved. It also gives the players and scouts a chance to see where everyone stacks up against other top level competition. In the end, plenty was learned about some of the top players in the 2016 and 2017 classes who will have a major impact on college basketball in the coming seasons.

1. Thon Maker is still a major factor on the floor

Over the past year, Thon Maker’s reputation had taken a bit of a hit after trying to play more like a wing instead of a stretch big man. At the 2015 NBPA Top 100 Camp, Maker put everything together in a consistent and productive manner to clinch MVP honors and put himself back in the conversation among the nation’s elite. While Maker made some perimeter shots and showed a face-up game in the mid post, his speed and ability to handle the ball in the open floor is hard to stop for a player his size. Also leading the camp in rebounds and placing fifth in blocks, Maker was a complete threat who looks back on track as a top prospect.

2. Frank Jackson is pushing his way into elite status

During the April live evaluation period some college coaches firmly believed that Utah native Frank Jackson could be the best guard in the 2016 class after his performances in the adidas Gauntlet. After another strong showing at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, the 6-foot-2 Jackson looks like he might be a serious candidate as the best guard in the 2016 class. With very good athleticism and an ability to score all over the floor, Jackson is a threat to score from many different areas of the court. He also has enough vision and passing ability to be a big and athletic point guard who can make plays above the rim and touch the paint frequently.

3. DeAndre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba and the 2017 big man group will be fun to track

The Class of 2017 has a number of high-level big men that will push for many of the top spots in that class. DeAndre Ayton has established himself as the top dog in 2017 — and many believe in all of high school basketball — and others like Wendell Carter, Zach Brown, Mohamed Bamba and Nick Richards are starting to also look like potential five-star prospects. Carter wasn’t in attendance, but the other three all showed glimpses of greatness at the camp. The 7-foot-0 Bamba, in particular is a fluid and smooth prospect who makes big impact plays on both ends of the floor. Watching this group, which also includes a lot of other talented players, should be a lot of fun over these last two years of high school.

4. Trevon Duval will compete for best guard in 2017

One of the biggest revelations of the NBPA Top 100 Camp was the emergence of Class of 2017 five-star point guard Trevon Duval. Already a known five-star prospect entering the event, the 6-foot-3 Duval elevated his play to another level at the camp and made plays all over the floor. The Delaware native tied for ninth in points (13.3 ppg) and was first in assists while also shooting 63 percent from the field. If Duval hits shots from the perimeter he becomes completely unguardable because his first step and athleticism gets him in the paint frequently. Duval also has a tight handle and plays well above the rim, so he brings plenty of exciting plays to the table. Playing at basketball powerhouse St. Benedict’s Prep, Duval is putting himself in the conversation to be the Class of 2017’s best guard.

5. Villanova got a good one in Omari Spellman 

There was an interesting conversation among media at the camp about Villanova not having a big man like 2016 commit Omari Spellman in quite some time. The 6-foot-8 Spellman was tremendous during the camp as he played with a high motor and was consistently productive scoring the ball. He averaged 15 points per game and scored on post touches, 3-pointers and got to the free throw line the fourth most in camp. Even better, Spellman was 28-for-32 at the line and he’s going to draw plenty of fouls in his career. The Wildcats have a nice post piece to build around in the 2016 class and they should have some good guards on the roster that will benefit greatly from Spellman’s arrival.

6. Markelle Fultz and Shamorie Ponds continue to score everywhere they go

Two of the biggest scoring threats of the the spring were guards Markelle Fultz and Shamorie Ponds. The 6-foot-4 Fultz put up double figures in every single game in playing for the DC Blue Devils in the Under Armour Association while Ponds was one of the EYBL’s best scorers for the New York Lightning. Both Class of 2016 guards continued scoring the ball at a high clip at the camp as they both made their way into the camp’s top 10 in scoring. The five-star Fultz is versatile enough to play multiple guard spots, while the 6-foot-0 Ponds can handle and find teammates with passes when he isn’t focused on scoring.

7. Texas A&M commit J.J. Caldwell is underappreciated

One of the underappreciated players in the Class of 2016 Texas A&M commit J.J. Caldwell. A 6-foot-0 floor general from Texas is a great start to the Aggies’ class and he gives them a tough guard who is physical and makes teammates better. Caldwell was also aggressive on the defensive end, coming up with stops and steals on a regular basis. With Texas A&M also bringing in a ton of talent around him, Caldwell should have plenty of capable teammates who can finish his passes.

Gardner, Beekman lift No. 8 Virginia past No. 22 N.C. State

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia coach Tony Bennett had a simple message for his team after a poor defensive performance in a loss at Virginia Tech.

“Talk is cheap. Do it. Show us, to our players, to us as a staff, show up, work in practice, step to between the lines and don’t lose yourself in anything but what your job is,” Bennett said he told his players and assistants in the two days of practice since the 74-68 loss.

The team clearly got the message.

Jayden Gardner scored 18 points, Reece Beekman added 15 and No. 8 Virginia cooled off red-hot No. 22 North Carolina State 63-50 on Tuesday night.

“We had a great two days before State, you know, preparation and just diving in,” Gardner said. “It’s just this is the time of the season we need to lock in and you know, we’re playing for something. … We’re trying to win a championship.”

The Cavaliers (18-4, 10-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) handed the Wolfpack (19-6, 9-5) their second loss in 10 games and moved into a share of first place in the conference with Clemson and Pittsburgh.

The Wolfpack arrived leading the ACC with an average of 79.6 points and were 19-2 when scoring at least 70, but became the 38th consecutive league opponent held below 70 points at John Paul Jones Arena.

“Obviously, as I watched the Virginia Tech game and knew that those guys dropped the game and, you know, any time you’re going to play a very good defensive team on their home floor, you know you’re going to get that energy,” North Carolina State coach Kevin Keatts said.

Terquavion Smith led N.C. State with 19 points and Casey Morsell, who spent his first two seasons at Virginia and was jeered nearly every time he touched the ball in his first game back, had 18 points before fouling out in the final minute.

Jarkel Joiner, the Wolfpack’s No. 2 scorer at 16.2 points per game, missed 12 of his 14 shots and scored five points. D.J. Burns Jr. (eight points) was the only other Wolfpack player to score.

Reserve forward Kadin Shedrick, who did not play in Virginia’s loss at Virginia Tech on Saturday, had 10 points and six rebounds for the Cavaliers.

Virginia scored the first six points of the second half to open its largest lead at 40-20, but the Wolfpack began whittling away, fueled by a 12-6 burst in which Smith and Morsell each hit a pair of 3-pointers.

“In the past, we’ve been able to control the tempo and to get those guys to play a little bit faster and even turn them over,” said Keatts, whose team had won three of the last four meetings. “But we couldn’t.”

N.C. State twice closed within nine points but got no closer. Morsell’s 3 made it 55-46 with 3:46 to play, but Beekman made a free throw and then took a no-look pass from Kihei Clark for an easy backdoor layup.

Virginia closed the first half on an 8-2 run to lead 34-20 at the break. The Wolfpack missed 10 straight shots before Burns scored just before the half.

BIG PICTURE

N.C. State: The Wolfpack got scoring from just three players – Smith with nine points, Morsell with seven and Burns with four – in the opening half. They shot 25.8% with Smith going 4 for 13 and Joiner 0 for 6. … Burns picked up his third personal foul less than a minute into the second half after getting the ball stolen by Beekman. He stayed in the game and drew his fourth foul on a drive by Clark with 16:03 left.

Virginia: Beekman started the game ranking first in the ACC in assist/turnover ratio (3.0) and third in assists (5.1). He had four assists and one turnover. Clark started first in assists (6.0) and second in assist/turnover ratio (2.8). He had six assists and three turnovers.

UP NEXT

N.C. State: At Boston College on Saturday.

Virginia: Hosts Duke on Saturday.

Michigan St. rallies to win after giving up lead to Maryland

Maryland v Michigan State
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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Joey Hauser scored 20 points and Tyson Walker had 17 and Michigan State rallied after scoring the game’s first 15 points to beat Maryland 63-58 on Tuesday.

A.J. Hoggard had 10 rebounds and eight assists for Michigan State.

Jahmir Young scored 17 points for Maryland, Hakim Hart 12, Julian Reese 11 and Donta Scott 10 for the Terrapins.

The Spartans (15-9, 7-6 Big Ten) used an 8-0 run in which Walker made a layup and 3-pointer wrapped around a 3 from Jaden Akins for a 52-48 lead with 7:44 remaining and Michigan State led for the remainder.

The Terrapins erupted for a 12-0 run in less than three minutes in the second half turning a 38-26 deficit into a 38-all tie. Young and Hart posted back-to-back three-point plays, and Hart’s 3-pointer with 13:01 knotted it at 38. Prior to that 3, Hart was 3-for-last-27 shooting from beyond the arc. Maryland finished shooting 3 of 22 from distance.

Michigan State started the game with a 15-0 run and led 31-22 at halftime. Coming off an 81-46 win over Maryland (16-8, 7-6 Big Ten) on Saturday, the Terrapins have yet to win back-to-back contests in almost three years.

The Terrapins host Penn State on Saturday. Michigan State travels to play Ohio State on Sunday.

Arkansas pulls away from Kentucky in 2nd half, wins 88-73

Arkansas v Kentucky
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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Ricky Council IV scored 20 points, Anthony Black had 19 and Arkansas used a blazing second half to pull away and beat Kentucky 88-73 on Tuesday night, giving coach Eric Musselman his 200th collegiate victory.

Black added five assists and five steals. Makhel Mitchell and Davonte Davis scored 15 points each and Jordan Walsh 13 for the Razorbacks (17-7, 6-5 SEC) who have won five straight conference games, including three in a row. It was Arkansas’ third straight win over the Wildcats (16-8, 7-4). The teams meet again in Fayetteville in a regular-season finale on March 4.

Cason Wallace scored 24 points to lead Kentucky, which had won six straight conference games. Chris Livingston added 13 points and Jacob Toppin and Antonio Reeves 11 each.

After a first half with 11 lead changes, there were none in the second when Arkansas shot 72% and Council and Black combined for 25 points.

Three steals, including two by Black who turned them into consecutive dunks, fueled an 11-3 run to begin the second half for a 52-43 lead. A basket by Black made it a double-digit lead with eight minutes left as the Razorbacks sank 7 of 9 over that span to finish the game. They made 8 of 10 free throws over the final two minutes.

Kentucky coach John Calipari was given a technical foul with 33 seconds left in the first half. Black sank the resulting free throws for a three-point lead before Daimion Collins’ midrange jumper made it 41-40 at halftime.

Both teams shot over 50% in the first half with Wallace leading all scorers with 11 points. Kentucky dipped under 50% for the game while Arkansas finished at 63% and outscored the Wildcats 46-28 in the paint.

Arkansas is home against Mississippi State and Kentucky is at Georgia, both games on Saturday.

Tulane secures 101-94 OT win over Cincinnati

Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW ORLEANS – Kevin Cross and Jalen Cook scored 27 points each as Tulane took down Cincinnati 101-94 in overtime on Tuesday night.

Cross added 15 rebounds and six assists for the Green Wave (16-7, 9-3 American Athletic Conference). Cook added 14 assists. Jaylen Forbes scored 24 points and shot 6 for 15 (3 for 6 from 3-point range) and 9 of 9 from the free throw line.

Landers Nolley II finished with 26 points, eight rebounds and four assists for the Bearcats (16-9, 7-5). Ody Oguama added 16 points and 13 rebounds for Cincinnati. In addition, David Dejulius finished with 12 points, eight assists and three steals.

Tulane entered halftime down 37-28. Cross paced the team in scoring in the first half with 10 points. Forbes scored 18 second-half points and hit the game-tying 3-pointer with 1:02 remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime.

Tulane scored seven unanswered points to break a tie and lead with 42 seconds left in overtime.

No. 16 Oklahoma women take 1st lead in OT, rally past Baylor

Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman
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WACO, Texas – Ana Llanusa and Skylar Vann each scored 20 points and No. 16 Oklahoma took its first lead of the game in overtime before rallying past Baylor 98-92 on Tuesday night.

The Sooners trailed for 39 minutes in regulation and were down 75-63 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Baylor turned it over twice on inbounds plays in the closing seconds of regulation and Taylor Robertson tied at 83-all on a wide-open 3-pointer with 14 seconds left.

Llanusa started overtime with a 3-pointer, and she finished with eight points during the extra session. Baylor never led in overtime, shooting 2 of 6.

Robertson, who tied Danielle Robinson’s program record of 140 starts, finished with 14 points and three 3s for Oklahoma (19-4, 9-3 Big 12), which trails Texas (18-6, 9-2) in the hunt for its first conference title since 2009. Nevaeh Tot added 13 points, Liz Scott added 11 points and eight rebounds and Madi Williams had nine points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

The Sooners, the nation’s No. 3 scoring offense at 86.5 points per game, have scored at least 88 points 14 times this season, seven in conference.

Caitlin Bickle scored a career-high 30 points with four 3s and Sarah Andrews added 20 points for Baylor (16-7, 7-4). Freshman Darianna Littlepage-Buggs had 14 points and 17 rebounds and Ja’Mee Asberry scored 11. Jaden Owens had 14 of Baylor’s 25 assists on 32 field goals.

Bickle was 8 of 11 from the field, including 4 of 7 from distance, and Littlepage-Buggs recorded her sixth double-double in the last seven games.

It was the first time in 20 years the Sooners were ranked in game against an unranked Bears squad. Oklahoma continues its road trip at Kansas State on Sunday. Baylor plays at Oklahoma State on Saturday.