By Michael Visenberg and Evan Tomes
This year’s Adidas Nations once again showcased a slew of stand out high school talent and a majority of the elite seniors were placed on tournament winner Team Harden. With a line-up that might have featured a half dozen future lottery picks, the stacked squad was tested by a cohesive Team Canada, as they fell behind 56-50 at the half. Eventually, their depth, size and athleticism proved too formidable, as Team Harden took the title 123-96. There were some definite surprises, a number of improved campers from previous years and a lot of names to keep track of for the next few NBA Drafts.
Deandre Ayton 7-0 245 PF/C Hillcrest 2017
Ayton started out a little slow on the first day of camp against Team Rose; getting ahead of himself, not getting clean looks, and missing some easy ones around the basket. His jump hook was off and he played with too much finesse rather than utilizing his superior size and athleticism. He would pick it up as the game progressed; finishing with 19 points and 15 rebounds (nine offensive). He ran the pick and roll/pick and pop well with Trevon Duval. Ayton had another big game against Team Canada with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks while shooting 70.6% from the field in 26 minutes of play.
In the championship game, a rematch against Team Canada, Ayton wasn’t heavily involved in the offense, yet still finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds. He ran a high-low game with Wendell Carter, playing both sides as a passer and receiver. Ayton finished the Nations averaging 17.4 points and 11 rebounds (leading all players) while shooting 60.3% from the field and 42.9% from three. He displayed his great hands often, showing he could dominate the boards and when he was fully engaged, there was nobody at the event more dominant. On a team filled with some of the most talented players in the high school senior class, Ayton clearly demonstrated why he is considered the consensus top prospect in 2017.
Trevon Duval 6-2 185 PG Advanced Prep 2017
One of the stars of last year’s camp, Duval has the ability to break down a defense and handle the ball in pressure at a very high level. Particularly against Asia-Pacific, when he was hitting his outside shot, he showed he could be a match-up nightmare. He is adept at attacking the basket and showed the ability to get the ball to his post players in scoring position. He did, however, have some flashes of inconsistency and would sometimes make the flashy play rather than the right play.
In the game against Team Rose he forced the issue too often making the game a little closer than it probably should have been. This might be nitpicking after a long summer, though many did say he had some struggles with consistency at times during July. He certainly can become a more consistent outside shooter and while he was among the event’s leaders at 3.5 apg, he had only 2 fewer turnovers than assists during his four game Nations stretch. He has fantastic tools for a PG prospect, with length, change of direction and explosive athleticism that should keep him near the top of the class of 2017. He just seems to lose his focus and forgets to allow the game to come to him, instead of forcing bad shots and dribbling into double teams. If he can clean up some of these problems, his upside is considerable.
Wendell Carter 6-9 250 PF/C Pace Academy 2017
Carter sat the first day, than teamed with DeAndre Ayton to form probably the most deadly high-low post combination to ever grace adidas Nations. Often times playing closer to the basket, Carter was a presence on both sides of the floor, using his strength and length to his advantage. He led the event in blocks per game, and while he is not the greatest athlete, he had some thunderous finishes at the rim. Even more impressive was his ability to see the floor, he has very soft hands and reads the game very well. He did not do a lot to get people to respect his outside shot, though he was 16-19 FT (84.2%) and seems to have a good deal of potential there as well. He still seems to be his best as a 5 at this point, where he is a bit undersized for the NBA, though he has great length (7-foot-3 wingspan) and does react quickly. He had his lapses on the defensive end in terms of focus, but he had a really strong camp and is a very skilled big man. Known for his academic prowess, work ethic and high character, Carter only further established his likelihood of being a 2018 Mid Lotto Pick.
Hamidou Diallo 6-5 190 SG Putnam Science Academy 2017
Starring on Africa last year, Diallo joined Team Harden after heading down to Chile with Team USA’s U18 FIBA Americas team. Like a mini-Wiggins, he can absolutely explode off the floor, with jaw dropping dunks coming in the open floor, on cuts and on some epic put backs. He also showed maybe the most consistent level of defensive intensity, with lateral quickness that makes him a very tough on-ball defender. On offense, he even showed some ability to make plays for others, showing signs of being a winning teammate down the line. Tightening up his handle will be important, as will showing he has the outside shot to keep a defense honest. With wiry strength and excellent length, adding a post-up game likely would make him that much more dangerous of a scorer. His energy level and athleticism were still on full display. He has some star potential and excellent tools to become a top notch SG.
Troy Brown Jr. 6-6 210 SG Centennial 2017
Brown seemed to have slipped in many national rankings, with some worrying about his inconsistencies as a shooter and playmaker. Still, possessing great size, an ability to see the floor and guard level ball skills, Brown showcased his elite athleticism and showed how valuable he can be. He often ran the second unit, played solid on-ball defense and also hit the glass at a good clip. He had a 12-9 assist-to-turnover ratio and flashed a lot of open court ability, along with making plays for himself and others in transition. He seems to be best suited for the wing and his outside shot still is not very consistent, though there is certainly room to improve (He was 8-8 from the FT line and his shot clearly is not broken). Seen as a possible star in the making early in his HS career, he showed that people might have written him off far too soon (he turned 17 only the day before the camp started), as he showed the type of ability coveted by NBA teams.
Gary Trent Jr.. 6-5 205 SG Findlay Prep 2017
Trent is deadly off of the catch-and-shoot, with great instincts as a scorer and a very soft touch. He’s very strong for a SG, and posted 22-points in the opening Team Harden win over Rose, willing to get out in transition, hitting the occasional floater and showing his confidence as a main option. After this game, however, Trent did display some of the potential concerns in terms of a lack of ball skills, while having a tough time when defended closely. He is not the most explosive athlete and was stifled at times finishing near the hoop, and his shot selection definitely can use work. He still is a very difficult match-up with scoring ability and a shooting form that should have him making a very early college impact.
Jaylen Hands 6-2 170 PG Balboa City 2017
Playing spot minutes during the previous games in Garden Grove, Hands finished with a big championship game to earn MVP, scoring 18 points in 16 minutes while shooting 70%. Usually getting to the rim with his quick first step and fearless driving, he doesn’t shoot well from outside, only making a single three at the camp. He does shoot pretty well from mid-range, though he needs to work on his body for the contact he will face in college. Hands was big in the third quarter run in the championship game against Team Canada, looking much more confident than in his previous games. The UCLA commit averaged 8.4 points and three rebounds per game over the course of Nations.
Kevin Knox 6-8 205 SF/PF Tampa Catholic 2017
Knox was not the most consistent player on Team Harden, but he showed very nice athleticism and an ability to stretch the floor. Still only 16-years old until next week, he has the tools to be a force on both ends and plays with a high energy level. He can play above the rim, though he did not put the ball on the floor a ton and can certainly work on his slashing, off ball ability as well. He did flash some outside shooting ability and could possibly become a combo forward the NBA highly covets at this point. He struggled to show much else in his game at the event, but played within himself and could make huge strides as his game matures.
DJ Harvey 6-6 205 SF DeMatha Catholic 2017
While his shooting was a tad streaky, Harvey was an offensive threat who provided the athleticism to be a good wing defender. He flashed his mid-range jump shot, step back and the ability to get out and run in transition. His handle is still not a strong suit, though he can get to the FT line and is showing more ability off of the ball. He proved he belonged on this roster and many times gave the team a nice boost of energy. He struggling mightily from long range (4-17 3PT, 23.5%), but Harvey seems to have the mechanics to improve upon this aspect once he gets to college. He finished the event averaging 10.3 ppg and 3.4 rpg.
PJ Washington 6-8 235 PF Findlay Prep 2017
Washington was instant energy combined with strength under the basket. He would punish smaller defenders, grabbing offensive rebounds and contesting shots on defense. He lacks ideal measurements for a PF, though his length certainly makes up for this and he has some athletic ability that helps him battle. If there is something he could work on, it would be his finishing around the basket, as he struggled some with length and finishing through contact. He got to the FT stripe a lot, only shooting 15-30 (50%), and a number of those could have been and one opportunities if he had mastered better touch close to the hoop. He tends to provide a nice boost when he enters the game, with his working on stretching the floor being the next step he should look to master.
Nick Weatherspoon 6-1 175 PG Velma Jackson 2017
Weatherspoon was the talk of the first night totaling 19-points for Team Rose and putting a great deal of pressure on the stacked Team Harden, as he outplayed his more highly ranked peers. He has athleticism that allows him to play much larger than his size and is aggressive when driving to the basket, even flashing some midrange ability. He got to the line 12 times in that game as well and showed that if they were after an All-Star team, he should not have been left off. He is still much more of a scorer than a playmaker, with a great first-step and some explosive ability to finish at the rim. He missed the last two days of camp, but in the first two he made a very strong impression in terms of scoring ability and high-level athleticism.
Charles OBannon 6-5 195 SG/SF Bishop Gorman 2017
When Team Rose needed a basket, O’Bannon was the player that they usually turned to. With an array of jumpers, floaters and cuts, he averaged 17.6 ppg, including averaging 24.5 ppg in his two games versus Africa. His outside shot is streaky, but his aggressive play got him to the foul line quite a bit and he showed nice athleticism as well. There are times where he struggled in reading the game and he has not mastered making plays for others at this point. Even if he is a tad bit one dimensional, it seems like his scoring will be something that can be worked with right away. His development as far as defense and using his length, athleticism to his advantage in other facets will need to be improved in order to see just how far he goes.
Thomas Allen 6-1 170 PG/SG Brewster Academy 2017
Allen was another major scoring threat for Rose, as he finished with 65 points in a recorded 65 minutes overall (a game against Lillard, where he had 11 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists in “3 minutes”, may have actually meant he played closer to 80 minutes) through the team’s five games. He showed nice range on his jumper (9-21 3PT, 42.9%), with a quick and comfortable release. He also finished with 10 assists to only 4 turnovers, although 6 came in the game against Latin America and he had two games without an assist. With a nice floater and the ability to take what the defense gives him, Allen was an under-the-radar player who impressed. Improving his handle and showing he can get into the paint will be key for him moving forward, though he should be a gem for whatever college he lands at.
AJ Oliver 6-4 170 SG DW Daniel 2017
In Team Rose’s opening game with Team Harden, it was a much closer game than the 83-74 final indicated. A lot of this was due to Rose’s ability to stretch the floor, and Oliver did that to the tune of 18 points on 6-10 FG, including 4-8 3PT. He was 12-28 (42.9%) 3PT during his time at Nations and hit 3 crucial long-range shots to help Rose past Africa in the 3rd place game. He thrives as a spot-up shooter, though he could work on his ball skills and passing. Oliver decided to forego his senior year to enroll at Clemson in January, where he is expected to take a redshirt year and have a head start at contributing for the Tigers in 2017-18. With strength, Oliver has the size and shooting stroke to gain a roll early in his college career.
Zion Williamson 6-6 240 SF Spartanburg Day 2018
Williamson impressed as one of the top overall prospects at Nations in his three games. He explodes quickly and effortlessly off the floor, with some truly special ups, and possesses plenty of lower body strength. The lefty likes to drive from midrange and is tough to keep up with once he gets a head of steam to the basket. He sees the floor well, secures rebounds, and has smooth shooting mechanics. Williamson averaged 20 points per game, placing fourth in the event in scoring, while shooting a ridiculous 82.1% FG (23-28), along with two steals per game. He is truly a prospect with an exciting and unique skill set, establishing himself as one of the more exciting players in the junior class. If he improves in terms of conditioning and long-range ability, he could be down right scary by the time he gets to college.
Reggie Perry 6-8 225 PF Thomasville 2018
With a frame that separated him from the majority of underclassmen at the camp, Perry finished as Team Wiggins’ 3rd leading scorer (13.2 ppg) and Nations’ 2nd leading rebounder (8.8 rpg). While he is considered by most recruiting sites as a wing, he has the makings a nice combo forward, fitting with the trend of positionless basketball. As his feel for the game improves, he certainly seems to be one of the more enticing 2018 prospects in the entire camp that seems like a legitimate McDonald’s All-American candidate who should have high majors knocking down his door.
Immanuel Quickley 6-2 175 PG John Carroll 2018
After having a very inconsistent time from a shooting standpoint, Quickley had a big 36-point game (10-16 FG, 5-5 3PT, 11-16 FT) in his camp finale against Latin America. Quickley also showed good quickness at the point, while also finishing with a Team Wiggins leading 3.4 apg. Still, his play beyond Latin America showed that there is still quite a bit for him to work on, and he only shot 38.2% FG through 5 games. He has some good tools to work with and while he stills needs to work on his overall feel for the game, he has nice size; length and athleticism that should help him stand out among the current junior class.
Matthew Hurt 6-9 185 PF John Marshall 2019
He is still rather slight and at times struggled against older competition, but Hurt’s offensive package stood out. He could score from the midrange and close to the hoop, with nice touch and even some ability to put the ball on the floor. He moves well and showed some nice agility, even if he does not necessarily explode off of the court. Like most 2019’s Hurt is a project, but he is far ahead of the curve and stood out among the underclassmen on Team Lillard.
Jules Bernard 6-5 180 SG Windward 2018
As Team Lillard’s most advanced offensive option, Bernard showed some ability to create for himself and footwork to get space to score. All of his three-point makes came against Team Africa, where he was 3-5 in the game, though he was a combined 0-8 in the other four games he played. Right now, he relies on his size and change of speed to get the better of his opponent. He still could use work on his overall shot selection and seeing the floor, though many times he was the key factor keeping Lillard as close to being in the game as they could be.
Grant Sherfield 6-2 170 PG/SG Mansfield Summit 2019
Sherfield showed a very nice shot and was adept at taking what the defense gave him. He can create with some hesitation and was really the closest thing to a PG Team Lillard had. At this point, he still was more of an undersized 2-guard and Lillard struggled to find a true floor leader. Sherfield would have been a very dangerous player off of the ball and will be a player to watch when he hopefully comes back for next years camp.
* Mohamed Bamba only played one game at Nations, and it was against a team with no real answer for him in Team Lillard. Even so, Bamba absolutely dominated with his length and ability to run the floor, finishing with numerous thunderous dunks on his way to 18 points and 5 rebounds in just 19 minutes. He left the camp that next day, but the young man with around a 7’9 wingspan is a fluid athlete with a great energy. His defense, athleticism and absurd length have made him a player you have to factor in when you talk about top NBA prospects for the 2018 NBA Draft.
* Jericho Sims was a very bouncy athlete who showed nice energy running the floor and an ability to make plays above the rim. He had maybe one of the top highlight blocks at Nations in Team Rose’s opener against Team Harden, when he blocked DeAndre Ayton at the rim. He only averaged 5.2 ppg and 2.4 rpg in 16.8 mpg, but he was one of the prospects that really stood out on his team. His shot is incredibly low and will need major work, plus he needs to gain a lot of strength to compete with college 4’s or 5’s. He shows great energy and some explosive ability that make him one to keep an eye on.
* Makai Ashton-Langford got lost in the shuffle playing with Team Harden. His biggest game was the Sunday game against Team Canada, where he finished with 12 points and five rebounds. He still showed some quickness and toughness, which helped him lead Mass Rivals to the Adidas Uprising Summer U17 Championship.
* Team Rose was led in minutes by Darius Perry, a PG who did a little bit of everything for them. He averaged 9.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg and 2.2 apg, with some ability to create turnovers as well. More of a scoring guard with some vision, he has a very smooth release and some ability to make plays off of the bounce. He has a number of high major programs vying for his services.
* 2017 UCLA commit Jalen Hill does not turn 17 until mid-December, and has shown ability as a rebounder and defender. His offensive game right now is quite limited and his court awareness needs major work. Hill is also a bit of a short strider, but part of that might be his still needing to grow into his body as a younger HS senior.
* AJ Reeves played well in his three games, averaging 10 points per game. He hit big shots and shot 40% from three. Reeves was one of Team Wiggins’ more consistent players and a strong perimeter scorer. He has adequate size for a SG, though it is his athleticism that makes him a guy to monitor in the 2018 class.
* Onyeka Okongwu shows some promise as one of the top post players in the 2019 class. He averaged 6 ppg and 5.8 rpg through four games. He has a good face-up game with nice touch from midrange, also working around the basket and playing within himself.
* TJ Moss has some nice size for a guard, and showed an ability to defend, averaging 1.8 spg in 5 games with Team Wiggins. Still, his shooting during the week was not a pretty picture, as he finished only 11-45 FG (24.4%). With a year to figure out how to play further to his strengths and work on shot selection, Moss will hopefully come back much improved at Nations next year.
* There is little doubt Tyler Herro has a very nice stroke and some intriguing ball skills as a scoring guard. What happened with Team Lillard was, a lack of true PG forced him to do a little too much. He had a great first two games, scoring 15 ppg, only to finish with a combined 11 points through his last three.
* Lillard’s Sherif Kenney is a strong and fearless wing, who brought instant aggressive offense. He had 55 points in 5 games while shooting only 14-35 FG (40%). The more impressive feat was that he finished 23-28 FT (82.1%), proving himself as a match-up problem who punishes you further one he gets to the line.
* North Carolina commit Rechon Black is still kind of figuring himself out as a player. He has great size as a 2018 recruit, with some ball skills and vision that make him enticing. He still does need to add strength and he will force the issue rather than let the game come to him.
* Chris Smith certainly looks the part of a quality combo forward, with good size and some quick twitch movement. He is still kind of coming into his own and is pretty slight, but in a thin 2018 class, he could move up the rankings.
* Though he is not the most explosive athlete, Alex Reese has an ability to make midrange shots and was working on increasing that range. He has some nice size for a college PF and when he played to his strengths without forcing the issue, he gave Team Rose some good minutes. He averaged 7.4 ppg in his five games, though averaged just 2.2 rpg and can certainly work on his awareness as a rebounder.
* While he does not have ideal size for a PF at this point in time, Ethan Henderson has length and can get off the floor quite quickly at close to 6’8. He was only recorded for two blocks, though he certainly was a defensive presence and altered many more.