Jul 14, 2014, 5:40 PM EDT
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.
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.
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.
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