July Live Period Preview: Top Players to Watch in the Class of 2016 and 2017

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Wednesday is the opening day of the first of July’s three five-day live periods. To get you prepped, here are 25 uncommitted players from the Class of 2016 and 10 uncommitted players from 2017 who you should keep track of over the next three weeks.

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Class of 2016

1. Josh Jackson: In a loaded 2016 class, Jackson may actually be the best prospect. He’s a 6-foot-8 two-guard that can score from all three levels that has proven to be elite as a defender and a rebounder. He’s not as athletic as Paul George, but he has a similar skill-set.

2. Harry Giles: Giles was arguably the best player in the U19 World Championships despite playing two years above his age group. He’s a powerful four man that can finish around the rim while being mobile and skilled enough on the perimeter to be a threat.

3. Jayson Tatum: A 6-foot-8 wing from Saint Louis, Tatum’s ability to score seems effortlessly smooth. He’s a high-IQ and versatile offensive talent — the kind of player that often gets labeled “soft” — but in the U19 tournament in Greece the last two weeks, he showed off some serious athleticism and toughness defensively.

4. Dennis Smith: Smith is the best point guard in the 2016 class. An athletic, 6-foot-2 native of North Carolina, Smith is at his best when he can get a head of steam going towards the rim. His jumper is improving, and he’s athletic enough that he is an excellent defender when he wants to be.

5. Malik Monk: Monk can be streaky, but when he’s cooking there is not a more entertaining player in high school. He’s just 6-foot-3, but he has range well-beyond the NBA three-point line and is the kind of thrilling athlete that makes him a mixtape hero.

6. Ederice Adebayo: Adebayo is a powerfully athletic, somewhat-undersized four in the same mold as Montrezl Harrell and Cliff Alexander. Nicknamed ‘Bam’, his low-post game is developing but still a work in progress.

7. Kobi Simmons: A new-breed point guard with good size (6-foot-5) and athleticism, Simmons is in the running for top guard in the 2016 class. The Georgia native is one of the best in the country at attacking the basket and making plays for himself or others.

8. De’Aaron Fox: Fox is one of those players that qualifies as a lead guard. The 6-foot-3 Texas native looks to score first — and can put up buckets in a hurry — but he’s at his best with the ball in his hands.

9. Frank Jackson: Jackson’s rise over the course of the last few months has been meteoric. He’s another big-time back court scorer from Lone Peak HS (Utah), but unlike some of his predecessors, he’s a terrific athlete that plays on the ball.

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10. Terrance Ferguson: Ferguson has Klay Thompson written all over him. A 6-foot-6 guard from Texas, Ferguson is a deadly three-point shooter with elite athleticism.

11. Marques Bolden: A big spring put the 6-foot-10 Bolden firmly into five-star territory and he’s become a national recruit thanks to a good offensive post game and solid upside.

12. Rawle Alkins: A powerful and athletic wing, the 6-foot-4 Alkins is a terrific finisher around the rim and dangerous on straight-line drives as well as in transition. He’s still learning how to use that strength and athleticism, however, especially defensively.

13. Jarrett Allen: With tremendous measurables (6-foot-10 with a long wingspan) and great upside, Allen is one of the better long-term prospects in the 2016 class. Allen can protect the rim, hunts putbacks and also displays good touch around the rim.

14. Mustapha Heron: Heron committed to Pitt while he was a sophomore, but reopened his recruitment. A strong, 6-foot-5 wing, Heron’s most effective scoring the ball from 15-feet and in.

15. Tyus Battle: Battle’s recruitment has become one of the most interesting in the Class of 2016. A 6-foot-5 combo-guard with three-point range, Battle seemed like a perfect fit to follow in the mold of Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert at Michigan. But he recently decommitted from the Wolverines and took a visit to Syracuse.

16. Dewan Huell: A 6-foot-10 big man from Miami, Huell has the size, athleticism and motor that high-major programs look for. He’s also able to knock down a perimeter jumper, making him capable of playing either the four or the five.

17. Markelle Fultz: Frank Jackson has been the biggest riser in the Class of 2016, but Fultz isn’t far behind. He played JV as a sophomore and became a five-star recruit as a junior. At 6-foot-5, the DeMatha HS (Maryland) product can play either guard spot.

18. Miles Bridges: Bridges is big, strong, athletic and left-handed. The 6-foot-7, 230 pound combo-forward can beat smaller defenders in the paint and pull bigger defenders onto the perimeter. He’s a good passer as well and has the potential to a playmaker on the wing.

19. Seventh Woods: Woods became a sensation after his freshman season, when a mixtape highlighting his athleticism went viral. He’s still just as athletic, but at 6-foot, he’s still learning how to be a pure point guard as opposed to a score-first lead-guard.

20. Udoka Azubuike: At 6-foot-10 and 275 pounds, Azubuike has the size, hands, coordination and athleticism to be a dominant center at the college level. But at this point, his offense is a result of his size and strength more than his skill.

21. De’Ron Davis: Davis played up on the 17U level as a rising sophomore and has continued to add to his considerable offensive arsenal. Not a great athlete at 6-foot-9, Davis makes up for it with a good enough IQ to make plays on both ends of the floor.

22. Tony Bradley: After slimming down from last season, Bradley is far more mobile and active and, at 6-foot-10, he’s a pretty reliable post option on both ends of the floor.

23. Mario Kegler: A natural scorer with a well-rounded offensive game, the 6-foot-7 wing can get a little shot happy, but he’s gifted as an offensive weapon.

24. Mamadi Diakite: A tremendous athlete for a front-court player, Diakite is an impact shot blocker who can also rebound out of his area. With an improving offensive game, Diakite is an intriguing long-term prospect.

25. Thon Maker: Is there a more intriguing prospect in the class than Maker? He’s been on the national radar for what feels like a decade, but the 7-foot-1 center has officially decided to remain in the Class of 2016. He blocks shots, has three-point range and perimeter skills, and has drawn comparisons to Kevin Garnett, but he’s old for his grade and had a disappointing high school season.

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Deandre Ayton (Getty Images)

Class of 2017

1. DeAndre Ayton: There are many that believe this 7-foot Bahamian native is the best prospect that not currently on an NBA roster. He’s rangy, he’s athletic, he knocks down jump shots. Think Amare Stoudamire back when he was still good.

2. Michael Porter: At 6-foot-9, Porter is a freakishly athletic wing that has already graced Sportscenter. He needs to add weight and he needs to continue to develop his perimeter skills, but his physical tools are on another level.

3. Wendell Carter: A breakout spring has led Carter to a consensus top-5 ranking and getting pursued by some of the biggest programs in the country. He’s an athletic shot-blocker with range to 15-feet and the ability to finish around the rim with both hands.

4. Mohamed Bamba: Another lanky, 6-foot-11 athlete that needs to add weight. Bamba had a terrific spring and has shot up recruiting rankings. His motor and aggressiveness overshadows the fact that his ball-skills are still developing.

5. Trevon Duval: Duval has consistently proven his ability to score against all levels of competition. He won Peach Jam prior to his sophomore season in high school. At 6-foot-3, he’s likely a point guard at the highest level, meaning he needs to continue to develop his ability to create.

6. Billy Preston: After moving from California to Texas, Preston has upped his motor and maintained his complete scoring package. Also a solid rebounder, Preston, at 6-foot-9, is as naturally talented a front-court player as there is in the country.

7. Troy Brown: A do-it-all big point guard, Brown put together a very good spring playing up in the Nike EYBL and he’s a potentially elite prospect.

8. Jarred Vanderbilt: A 6-foot-7, defensive dynamo who can guard multiple positions on switches, Vanderbilt is also a developing offensive player who is a plus passer and rebounder.

9. Nick Richards: Richards burst on the national scene this spring by putting together some good performances in the Nike EYBL. A developing big man who isn’t scared to mix it up, Richards has had some jaw-dropping post moves that shows he’s just scratching the surface of his vast potential.

10. Gary Trent Jr.: Trent, the sun of former NBA player Gary Trent, exploded on the national scene this spring with a handful of explosive scoring performances. The 6-foot-5 off-guard is what we call a ‘bucket-getter’.

Miles Kelly leads Georgia Tech to 79-77 win over rival Georgia

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 02 Northeastern at Georgia Tech
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ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s Miles Kelly hit another winning shot against a state rival.

Terry Roberts endured a nightmarish final minute for Georgia.

Kelly hit a long 3-pointer and then a drove for the game-winning floater with 23 seconds remaining as the Yellow Jackets rallied to beat Georgia 79-77 on Tuesday night.

Kelly hit the winning shot in similar fashion against Georgia State on Nov. 12. He did it again to beat the Bulldogs, finishing with a team-high 17 points after failing to score in the first half.

“I’m going to continue to keep shooting, no matter how many times I miss,” Kelly said.

Roberts missed a 3-pointer, turned the ball over twice with bad passes, and was called for an offensive foul as he was trying to drive for the basket that would’ve sent the game to overtime.

“A tough finish for us,” Georgia first-year coach Mike White said. “We were in position to steal one on the road.”

A pair of second-chance buckets seemingly put Georgia (7-3) in control with a 77-73 lead.

The Bulldogs wouldn’t score again as Kelly led the comeback for the Yellow Jackets (6-3) – with a big assist from Roberts.

He had a chance to essentially seal it for the Bulldogs, but his jumper beyond the arc clanked off the rim.

Georgia Tech grabbed the rebound and raced down the court, where Kelly swished a 3 from well behind the stripe that brought Georgia Tech within a point with about a minute left.

Trying to work the ball inside, Roberts made an ill-advised entry pass that was deflected and stolen by Deivon Smith, setting up Kelly’s drive for the basket that put the Yellow Jackets back ahead,

Roberts tried a drive of his own, only to have it blocked by Jalon Moore. Georgia retained possession, but Roberts’ inbounds pass was stolen by Moore, who was fouled and made one of two free throws.

Roberts took the ball again and hurriedly dribbled toward the basket, only to be called for an offensive foul when he sent Smith flying.

“Just sacrificing my body for the team,” Smith said.

Georgia stole an inbounds pass around midcourt, giving Karlo Oquendo one last shot to launch a 3 that still would’ve won it for the Bulldogs. It bounced off the rim.

The game was tight throughout. Neither team led by more than eight, and a sequence in the second half showed just how tightly these rivals were matched.

With both squads playing at a frenetic pace and showing little regard for defense, the lead changed hands on eight straight possessions as the teams traded baskets.

Stunningly, they combined to score on 19 straight possessions before Georgia’s Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe missed a pair of free throws with 5:17 remaining.

FIRING UP THE CROWD

Perhaps the biggest cheer of the night came when Georgia Tech football coach Brent Key addressed the crowd at halftime.

Key, who served as interim coach for the last eight games of the season, was introduced Monday as the full-time choice for job.

He fired up the fans by getting them to chant “To hell with Georgia” over and over again. When a smattering of Bulldogs fans responded with barks, Key smiled and egged on the Yellow Jackets crowd to drown them out.

He also declared Georgia Tech to be the “greatest school in the entire state, the entire country,” following up his vow the previous day to not back down from the defending national champion and top-ranked Bulldogs.

BIG PICTURE

Georgia: This will be a tough one to swallow for Roberts, who led his team with 16 points and seven assists. The Bulldogs lost despite shooting 53.4% from the field.

Georgia Tech: Four players scored in double figures, and two others players finished with eight points. But it was Kelly, as usual, who had the ball in his hands at the end of a tight game.

UP NEXT

Georgia: After a nearly two-week break, the Bulldogs return to Atlanta on Dec. 18 to face Notre Dame at State Farm Arena in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event.

Georgia Tech: Head to North Carolina on Saturday for the Atlantic Coast Conference opener against the struggling Tar Heels.

No. 17 Illinois rallies late, beats No. 2 Texas 85-78 in OT

Illinois v Maryland
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NEW YORK – Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 12 of his 16 points in overtime, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:34 remaining, and No. 17 Illinois rallied to hand second-ranked Texas its first loss of the season, 85-78 on Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic.

Jayden Epps added 11 points, including the final five points of regulation – a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left and two tying free throws with 8 seconds remaining. Epps then blocked Marcus Carr’s jumper in the lane just before the buzzer to force overtime in an entertaining showdown at Madison Square Garden.

Matthew Mayer, who faced Texas several times at Baylor, tied a career high with 21 points as he made his first seven shots and finished 8 of 10.

Shannon, who missed eight of nine shots in regulation, took over in the extra period to help Illinois (7-2) beat a ranked foe for the second time this season. He opened overtime with a jumper after Marcus Carr was called for traveling and then hit an open 3 from the right wing over Brock Cunningham for a 73-70 lead.

Shannon then converted a reverse layup and finished off a three-point play to make it 77-70 with 2:16 left. Carr hit two free throws to get Texas within one with 1:28 remaining. Jayden Epps hit a layup, RJ Melendez sank two free throws to put Illinois ahead by five, and Shannon made two free throws with 27.7 seconds left.

Timmy Allen scored a season-high 21 points for Texas (6-1), which failed to open 7-0 for the first time since 2014-15. Tyrese Hunter added 10 points but Carr was held to nine points on 3-of-14 shooting as Texas had 12 shots blocked and shot 42%.

Texas took its only double-digit lead when Dillon Mitchell hit a layup with 8:28 left. Illinois cut the lead to 58-56 on a 3 by Melendez nearly four minutes later. After Cunningham hit an open 3 with 4:15 remaining, Si’Jabari Rice made a 3 for a 64-58 lead.

Allen found Cunningham for an open jumper that counted when officials called goaltending on Illinois’ Coleman Hawkins. That gave Texas a 65-61 lead with with 1:51 remaining.

Carr’s rainbow jumper in the lane made it 68-63 with a minute left and Illinois had a 3-pointer by Melendez waved off because it called timeout with 45.3 seconds left. After the timeout, Epps made an open corner 3 with 33 seconds remaining.

Hunter missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to set up Epps’ tying free throws.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois: The Illini continued to struggle with turnovers, committing 17. But only two of them came in the final 10-plus minutes of regulation or overtime. Illinois’ 15th turnover was an offensive foul by Mayer, which sent him to the bench with four fouls with 10:42 remaining.

Texas: The Longhorns had little offense beyond Allen and Hunter. While the duo was a combined 13 of 29, the rest of the team missed 24 of 40 shots.

UP NEXT

Illinois hosts Penn State in its second Big Ten game on Saturday. The Illini lost their conference opener to No. 13 Maryland.

Texas hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the Jimmy Blacklock Classic on Saturday.

Clark, Gardner lift No. 3 Virginia past James Madison, 55-50

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Kihei Clark scored 18 points, Jayden Gardner had 14 points and eight rebounds, and No. 3 Virginia beat feisty in-state rival James Madison 55-50 on Tuesday night.

The Cavaliers (8-0), who lost starting guard Reece Beekman to a right leg injury early in the first half, prevented the Dukes (7-3) from winning a second straight December game in Charlottesville. James Madison beat Virginia 52-49 last Dec. 7.

Clark had seven assists while playing nearly 39 minutes with Beekman sidelined.

“Kihei gave everything he had and I had to, you know, ride him,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “Sure, he missed some free throws. And I know he made some mistakes, but you could just see him, you know, how tough-minded he was.”

Dukes coach Mark Byington said he told Clark – who’s playing his fifth season for Virginia – after last year’s game that he loved watching him play.

“He’s seen everything and nothing you’re going to do is going to surprise him,” Byington said. “There’s nothing Kihei Clark hasn’t seen out there, and he’s poised. I mean, you can’t rattle him. … So I told him this time I was like, `Look, I better never see you in college basketball again.’ But he’s one of my favorite players to watch just because he’s tough, talented, and he’s a winner.”

Takal Molson scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half for James Madison, including a 3-pointer that tied the game at 42-all with 7:47 to play. Gardner responded for Virginia by scoring five straight points in a 9-1 run.

The Cavaliers kept the Dukes in the game by missing eight of 13 free throws over the last six minutes.

Molson made an acrobatic layup while being fouled with 1:51 left, but he missed the free throw. He scored again with 1:01 left, pulling the Dukes within 52-50, but freshman Ryan Dunn answered with a strong move on the baseline for Virginia with 35 seconds to play.

James Madison threw the ball away on its ensuing possession.

BIG PICTURE

James Madison: The Dukes came into the game leading the nation in scoring (93.3 points per game) and having scored as many as 95 points five times. They were shooting 52.7% for the year, but made just four of their first 19 shots and finished 15 of 55 (26.9%). Vado Morse scored 11 points, the only other JMU player in double figures.

“Yeah, we knew how good they were and they showed it in spots tonight,” Gardner said. “But I think you saw a lot of resiliency tonight on the defensive end getting crucial stops.”

Virginia: The Cavaliers played the final 36 minutes without Beekman and gave extensive minutes to freshman Isaac McKneely. Virginia will hope Beekman, its third-leading scorer and a primary ballhandler and defender, recovers in time for its showdown with No. 1 Houston on Dec. 17.

UP NEXT

The Dukes return home to play Gallaudet on Saturday night.

Virginia has a 10-day break before hosting the top-ranked Cougars.

No. 25 Villanova women beat American University 83-42

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VILLANOVA, Pa. – Maddy Siegrist had 24 points and seven rebounds, Lucy Olsen added 14 points and No. 25 Villanova beat American University 83-42 on Tuesday night.

Siegrist scored 15 points in the opening 13 minutes as Villanova led 34-15. The Wildcats extended it to 46-23 by halftime before starting the second half on a 9-0 run for a 32-point lead.

Villanova added an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter for its largest lead of the game at 79-36. The Wildcats held American to 15-of-50 shooting (30%) and scored 21 points off 19 turnovers.

Christina Dalce scored 13 points for Villanova (8-2), which plays Saint Joseph’s on Saturday before taking a week off for final exams. Siegrist, who was coming off a 29-point performance on Sunday, made 10 of 17 shots as Villanova shot 56%.

Emily Johns scored 12 points for American (0-8), which hosts Marist (3-5) on Saturday.

No. 6 UConn star Azzi Fudd out 3-6 weeks with knee injury

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STORRS, Conn. — Sixth-ranked UConn’s top scorer, Azzi Fudd, is expected to be out three to six weeks because of a right knee injury she suffered during her team’s weekend loss to No. 5 Notre Dame, a university athletic spokesperson said.

The sophomore guard was injured in the first half of the game when a teammate collided into her. She returned midway through the second period to play four hobbled minutes, but sat the rest of the way.

“I think she’ll be all right,” coach Geno Auriemma said afterward.

Fudd entered the game averaging 24.0 points but finished scoreless on two shots over 13 minutes in the team’s first loss of the season.

The athletic spokesperson didn’t specify the type of knee injury Fudd sustained.

She underwent evaluation and an MRI confirmed the injury, the spokesperson said.

The Huskies host Princeton next.