Sunday, August 9, 2015

Adidas Nation: What we learned

THE RIVALS150: 2016 | 2017
CERRITOS, Calif. -- With a pair of ESPNU televised games, the 2015 Adidas Nations came to a conclusion on Monday night. The ending of the Nations event is an unofficial end to the summer. Before Rivals moves on to hand out summer-ending awards, we'd like to take one last look back at what we learned from Nations.
Smith 2016's top point
Dennis Smith filled up the box score at Nations.
Though he missed Monday night's televised games due to a knee injury suffered Sunday evening, Dennis Smith has secured his spot as the top point guard in the class of 2016. After very good spring and summer campaigns on the Grassroots hoops circuit with Team Loaded North Carolina, Smith was at his best during play at Nations. Smith averaged 16 points, 6.2 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game during an incredibly well-rounded run at Nations. He shot the ball well (54.2 percent) and had a solid 2:1 assist-to-turnover ration. As athletic as they come with 6-foot-3 size, he once again reminded Rivals of a young Baron Davis with his explosive drives to the rim and quick first step.
Good week for Diallos
If you were playing for Team Africa and your last name was Diallo, you had yourself one heck of a run at Nations. Both rising junior five-star wing Hamidou Diallo and currently unranked rising senior wing Alpha Diallo were on top of their games. Already a well-known prospect and ranked No. 19 in the class of 2017, Hamidou Diallo lived up to his billing as a top-notch wing scorer. At 6-foot-4, the New Yorker who attends Putnam (Conn.) Science is an electric athlete who is wired to get buckets. He was most effective attacking off the dribble and even played some point. His jump shooting still needs some work, but don't be surprised to see Diallo get a bit of a bump up in the rankings after averaging 19.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game during his week at Nations. A 6-foot-5 wing who had to sit out his junior season at Denver (Colo.) Lincoln, Alpha Diallo is more of an unknown. He had a strong travel circuit season with the Colorado Hawks, but the three-star didn't exactly show up at Nations heavily recruited or with a big reputation. Given the way he played at Nations, teams will be scrambling for more info on the rising senior. Diallo was a force to be reckoned with all week as he averaged 20.5 points and 10.7 rebounds. He attacks the rim in transition, is a fine athlete and has the tools to be a very good defender. For now, it appears prep school is on the horizon for the 2015-16 season.
Gabriel no fluke
When a player like Wenyen Gabriel raises his level of play two or three levels in the span of a few weeks, you want to be sure that it's not a fluke. After tearing up Adidas Nations and playing dominantly in his fourth straight national event, it is quite clear that the 6-foot-9 forward is no fluke. Capable of shooting jumpers, attacking off the dribble and being a force on the glass, Gabriel was at his best against top competition. Playing with incredible energy after a long summer, he led the event in rebounding with 14.7 per game while adding 17.7 points. As the event wore on, Gabriel appeared to run out of steam and his shooting percentages suffered a bit (36-for-88 overall from the field), but it is clear to see why Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina joined Maryland, Providence, Boston College and more by offering scholarships based on his July play. Currently ranked No. 84 in the 2016 Rivals150, Gabriel is a stone cold lock to make a massive leap in the rankings and go from four to five-star prospect.
Ball can compete with anyone
Lonzo Ball is committed to UCLA.
Not that he needed to prove it to, but UCLA-bound point guard Lonzo Ball showed he belongs among the class of 2016's elite prospects. Yes, his jump shot is a little funky and no he didn't play in very many national events. But talent is talent and there is no questioning that Ball is a major talent at the point guard position. His 6-foot-5 size, command of the ball and second-to-none floor vision all translate to the next level and he should be an instant impact player for Steve Alford and the Bruins. The question is now whether or not Ball can retain his No. 5 overall national ranking. It's not a matter of ability or potential, it's a matter of the class of 2016 being absolutely loaded at the top, which we will discuss below.
Alkins deserves bump
If Rivals had a vote for MVP of Adidas Nations our vote would absolutely go to shooting guard Rawle Alkins. The No. 15 overall player in the class of 2016 was simply spectacular in all phases. He scored well at 21.8 points per game, he rebounded well with 5.6 per game and he did a great job of sharing the ball while racking up 5.4 assists per game. He was also efficient, shooting 54.5 percent from the field that included a very respectable 35 percent from three-point range. A powerful wing, Alkins is a ready-made scorer for the college level who is nearly impossible to match as a high schooler because of his power and strength. At No. 15, he might be a few spots too low and he's put together a pretty strong argument to get moved up some in 2016's overall hierarchy.
Power at the top's trip to Adidas Nations reinforced what we have been thinking all summer -- ranking the class of 2016 at the top end is going to be incredibly difficult. The class is full of college-ready difference-makers who have size and ability that translate to professional level positions. Odds are that many of them will be able to make that launch pretty quickly. We will do our post-summer ranking in either late August or very early September and deciding where to place everybody will be tough. In this class, as many as 20 players have legitimate arguments to be considered top-10 type players and there are probably 35 or so who deserve serious top 25 consideration. So we are going to have a situation where a top 10 or 15 player could have improved over the course of the summer, but experiences a slight drop in the rankings because the class is just that stacked from a talent perspective. This is certainly a good problem and it is one that has been anticipated for a while now. Ever since members of this class were freshman, it was expected that they would turn into a monster class and so far they have backed up that thinking.

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