Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Starting Five: USA golden again
USA Basketball continued to dominate the FIBA Americas 16U tourney, Butler picked up and important commitment and the NBPA Top 100 Camp kicks off in the middle of the week. We take a look at that and much more in this week's Starting Five.
USA 16U wins gold
In the summer of 2009, FIBA Americas held its inaugural 16U tournament. At stake was a berth in the following year's 17U World Championships. Coached by Don Showalter, USA Basketball's entry won in 2009, 2011 and 2013. Go ahead and add 2015 to the list after rising juniors Jarred Vanderbilt and Gary Trent Jr.each scored 19 points to help the USA take out Canada 77-60 and win another gold medal during Sunday's championship game in Argentina.
Gary Trent Jr. had 19 points in the gold medal game.
To say the USA has been dominant in the event would be an understatement. Sunday's win ran USA Basketball's all-time record in the FIBA Americas tournament to an impressive 20-0. After wining three pool play games and their semifinal by an average of 49.5 points, Team USA got all they could handle and more from the Canadians. Thanks to Canada's tough defense the United States shot poorly and had one ball handling mistake after another. After trailing 37-27 at the half, the United States still trailed 56-51 with about 8:30 to play in the fourth quarter. That's when Vanderbilt and Trent took the game over. The No. 3 ranked player in the class of 2017 and a versatile small forward, Vanderbilt attacked the rim and crashed the glass. Trent hit some key jumpers and scored in transition as the rest of the United States squad turned up the defense and finished the game on a 26-4 run to claim the gold medal. Vanderbilt added 10 rebounds and Trent six to go along with their 19 points. For his efforts, Trent was named the MVP of the tournament after averaging 16.8 points and just under three rebounds per game. A 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Apple Valley (Minn.) High, Trent currently ranks No. 45 in the class of 2017 but will soon be making a huge jump in the rankings. Rounding out the USA effort in the finals, 2017's No. 8 player, big man Wendell Carter, added 11 points and 10 rebounds. For the Canadian squad, it was impossible not to be impressed by the effort and production of 6-foot-7 forward Simisola Shittu. The product of Burlington (Ontario) Corpus Christi was a man possessed on the glass and kept coming at his opponents. He isn't yet a great shooter, but he is athletic, tough, has a nose for the ball and plays with relentless energy. A class of 2018 prospect with great promise, Shittu was good for 18 points and 14 rebounds in the championship game and 13.8 points and 11.4 rebounds per game throughout the course of the tourney.
Brunk commits to Butler
One of the most improved post players in the class of 2016 came off the board on Sunday afternoon when current three-star center Joey Brunk --the No. 138 player in the Rivals150 -- informed that he has committed to Butler. From a prospect standpoint, it is important to focus on the "current" part of that three-star rating and No. 138 slot in the class of 2016 because he's going to be moving up. A 6-foot-10 center from Indianapolis (Ind.) Southport, Brunk has backed up a very good junior year with a terrific run on the grassroots circuit. His Indy Hoosiers squad has scuffled a bit in the 17U division of the Under Armour Association, but Brunk has been a true standout, averaging 17 points and 8.3 rebounds a game while shooting 61 percent from the floor. To go with his size, Brunk is a strong kid who already carries 240 pounds with ease and he has good hands and soft touch. At Butler, Brunk should be able to develop into a go-to post player and a very reliable scorer and rebounder. Look for him to move into four-star territory during the next rankings update.
Summer's must-see event
One of the most important events of the summer kicks off at Virginia on Wednesday. The NBPA Top 100 is a must-see annual event that is always loaded with talent. Each year, the camp is heavy on rising seniors and most of them are highly ranked. There are also some talented underclassmen that get a chance to impress, playing against the older players. However, what is important is that in a grassroots basketball world that is becoming more and more divided along shoe company lines, Top 100 Camp brings in players from every shoe company. There just aren't any other individual camps out there that feature top players from Adidas, Nike and Under Armour programs along with some from independent teams going head to head. Because of that, the Top 100 Camp allows us to see many matchups that we simply wouldn't see anywhere else. Be on the lookout for thorough coverage beginning late Wednesday.
Porter trims list to ... 17
Michael Porter announced his top 17.
At midnight on June 14, college coaches were allowed to begin making phone calls directly to members of the class of 2017. In an effort to try and limit the madness, the No. 2 player in the class, Michael Porter made a first "cut" to his list. A 6-foot-8 small forward from Columbia (Mo.) Father Tolton with a sweet jump shot and deep range, Porter trimmed his list to a group of 17 schools. Obviously, there are going to be many on this list that won't stand much of a chance, but it is a list Porter reported as his cut list. Making the cut were Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Syracuse, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA, Virginia and Washington.
Unoffocial visit for Fultz
On Monday, the class of 2016's No. 24 player Markelle Fultz will be on campus at Virginia Tech for an unofficial visit. A 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha, Fultz was one of the biggest stories of the winter when he made a rise from playing junior varsity as a sophomore to being named MVP of the WCAC, one of the nation's most competitive high school leagues. Since then it has been one high major offer after another for Fultz, who is seemingly being courted by the entire country. Fultz was supposed to visit Arizona earlier in June but has postponed the visit so his trip to see Buzz Williams and the Hokies is his first campus visit in a while. Recently, Duke has gotten in contact with Fultz and is expecting him to be one of the most closely tracked players during July's live evaluation period. Look for him to cut down his list after July.

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