Indianapolis - Finally college coaches were allowed on the road, and the first major event of the July evaluation period was the Adidas Invitational. With coaches packed into the gym, players knew they had a platform to perform, and several of them stepped up such as Damien Wilson.
Celtics, Wilson outlast Indiana Elite
The Atlanta Celtics and Indiana Elite-Team Indiana are two of the top programs in the country at the 16-and under level. Both squads had excellent springs, and while one team lost a key contributor right before the event, another gained one. Unfortunately for the kid and the team, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera will miss all of July with a knee injury and had surgery early on Tuesday morning. While Team Indiana was without Smith-Rivera, the Celtics added five-star big man Jarnell Stokes to their already stacked roster.
At first it looked like the Celtics were going to steal the show and come home with an easy win, and that is because of the play of Damien Wilson. Wilson was showing off his impressive combination of length, athleticism, and ability to get to the rim. On top of that, the one question mark with Wilson has always been his jumper, but that was falling as well.
Wilson was hitting off the catch, hit pull ups, and even knocked in a step back three of off a crossover. With Wilson hitting those shots and then using his big time leaping ability to get to the rim, Team Indiana simply had nothing to counter. In fact the Celtics were beginning to run away with things.
That is when Hanner Perea simply decided to take over the ball game. The freakishly athletic power forward starting things off with a sweeping right hand hook add in a ferocious reverse slam later, and his squad was right back in it. Then later he decided to put on an aerial show. On three consecutive possessions Perea converted tip slams, all of them in impressive fashion. While Perea didn't show a ton of skill facing the rim, he did show an improved ability to handle the ball going right, and also had good rotation on his shot.
Unfortunately for Team Indiana, Perea would go down with a sprained ankle, and while they were able to hang in there, missing Smith-Rivera and Perea was simply too much. The Celtics got a solid performance from Shaquille Goodwin down low who did work without Perea in the game, and it was too much. Goodwin is a wide shouldered physical player who knows his role on the team and doesn't try to do too much.
Along with Goodwin, Stokes also took advantage of Perea's absence. Often he was too strong for Peter Jurkin on the block and that allowed him to convert around the rim and get some of those garbage buckets that the Celtics needed to remain in the game and come home with the win.
Other Notable Performances
Quincy Miller: It was an up and down day for Miller. With coaches absolutely stalking him, Miller didn't always bring his high level motor, and it showed in his performance. During the times that Miller was motivated he showed what makes him a five-star elite talent with his ability to rebound, sweet stroke from the outside, and length down low where he can finish above the rim. However those flashes were simply not enough for a player of his ability level.
Kaleb Tarczewski: Give credit to the big man, he absolutely showed out on day one. Tarczewski was good during the month of June, and he didn't miss a beat in July. He scored with either hand around the rim, showed good footwork on the block, and rebounded both inside and outside of his area. His presence on the block kept D-One Sports on the perimeter, and helped his New England Playaz team to a win. If Tarczewski brings that kind of production to the game, the Playaz will be tough to deal with all month long.
Alex Murphy: Like his running mate Tarczewski, it was a solid day for Murphy. The ultra talented wing had it working from three point range, hit a nice reverse layup using the rim as a shield, and then in transition he punched on defenders trying to get in his way. Also Murphy did a solid job of defending Miller, and was key in a stretch that effectively ended the game put the Playaz ahead by a comfortable margin.
Naadir Tharpe: His shot was struggling, but Tharpe did do a good job of getting to the rim. The pass first point guard got into the lane at will and found open teammates or simply went directly to the tin and converted. Tharpe must work on the jump shot, especially off the bounce, but his court vision and quick first step do make him difficult to defend.
Jeremy Hollowell: Very few players in the 2012 class can make things look easier than Hollowell. He is bordering on 6-foot-7, and simply there is nothing on a basketball floor he isn't capable of doing. Hollowell was super smooth on Tuesday, and while he didn't score a ton of points, he rebounded, blocked shots, dished out assists, and brought the ball up the floor. With him focused, he is a special talent, and he showed it during a big win over the Ohio Basketball Club.
Ronnie Johnson: He is small, but Johnson flat out makes other people better. Johnson is an absolute problem for defenses coming off of ball screens because his jumper has improved where if his man goes under the screen he will burn you from deep, but if a defensive player goes over top the screen, he is so quick that he gets into the lane and from there it is either a floater for a bucket or a dish for an easy layup. Johnson is very left hand dominant, and needs to work on that part of his game, but when it comes to setting up teammates for buckets, he definitely fills the role.
Patrick Ingram: Ingram is an athletic spark for the Eric Gordon Central Stars. A physical two guard with big time bounce and a high motor, Ingram just knows how to hustle and makes plays all over the floor. He wasn't super productive in terms of points, but his defense and athleticism make him an interesting prospect as time goes on in the Hoosier State.
Stephon Blair: Potential, that is the big time word with Blair. He has a grown man's body right now, and the 2012 big man has the skills to develop. He hit a 17 foot jumper, showed a good spin move on the block, and rebounds like a mad man. Still Blair is out there without a great idea of how to play the game from the post position, and his touch is very hit or miss, but the bottom line is with his physique and raw abilities he is going to get a lot of looks. He isn't there yet, but the tools are clearly in the tool box for the Florida Rams post.
Malik Price-Martin: He is no doubt skinny, but Price-Martin can really put the ball on the floor for a young power forward, and has the ability to finish in traffic. As he gets more aggressive and more confident, which should come with strength, Price-Martin will be tough to contain off the dribble from the mid-post as he showed on a pair of occasions that he can knock down the 15 foot jumper, and even stretch his range out to the three point line. When it comes to power forwards in the 2013 class, very few are going to have the long range potential that Martin possesses.
Cleon Roberts: Some dudes are just wired to score and he is one of them. Roberts can fill it up with the best of them. The 2012 prospect from Miami can flat out put the ball in the bucket. He has unlimited range, but his long arms and dynamic first step make him a problem off the dribble for defenders. Also he knows when to pass, and is a good teammate. Still his team is going to be at its best when Roberts is scoring, and he showed he is more than capable of that with his slashing drives to the rim and jumpers from deep.
DJ Fenner: The son of a former Cincinnati Bengal running back, Fenner is a physically developed 2013 wing with good athleticism and the ability to score inside or out. His jumper is still a bit inconsistent, but that should come with reps. His strength and athleticism make him tough to handle going to the rim. A potential high-level prospect, Fenner will need to continue to refine his perimeter game as players begin to catch up to him strength wise.
R.J. Hunter: With his dad looking on in the coaches section, Hunter got going from deep. The 6-foot-5 long armed shooter absolutely caught fire from three, and there was nothing Team Philly could do about it. Hunter hit at least five threes, and also showed an aptitude to handle the ball in space. He needs to get much stronger, but the son of the IUPUI head man no doubt knows how to play and showed that he can shoot the ball at an extremely high level when he gets going.
Amile Jefferson: The versatile forward just keeps on adding to his game. On Tuesday he showed a big time ability to handle the ball in transition, and when a defender tried to take a charge he would avoid contact using his body control and improved handle to convert himself or set up on a teammate. Also he was making shots out to 18 feet, and though his release isn't pretty the rotation is good and it is always right on line. As always Jefferson rebounded well and was extremely active. He needs to get stronger for sure, but the motor, basketball IQ, and work ethic are making him one of the best in the 2012 class.
Gabe York: It is tough to score in more ways than York did. The class of 2012 shooting guard is a bit short for the position, but he makes up for it with big time athletic ability and an ability to shoot the ball from any area on the floor and have it go in. In his team's win, York was a one man wrecking crew. He hit from three, converted from the mid-range, and then slammed home a pair of thunderous dunks to get his teammates going. Shot selection is no doubt a growth area, but to be fair he was absolutely on fire and the occasional heat check was warranted.
Chane Behanan: NBA Camp is over, but that doesn't mean that Behanan is done dominating. The 2011 power forward has re-emerged as an elite level talent in his class, and his production is nearly unmatched. Going right or left he can take a bigger man off the dribble from the foul line, but his bread and butter has been and always will be inside. Behanan was very productive on the block, and with his perimeter skills improving, no one is coming close to stopping him when his teammates feel the urge to throw him the ball, which definitely doesn't always happen.
Torian Graham: While it was good day overall for Behanan, he will forever know that he is on a poster with Graham's name on it. Graham absolutely threw one down in Behanan's face, and the play actually fouled the OBC big man out of the game. Graham did more than just dunk though. He used his athleticism to create in the mid-range and also knocked down a few outside jumpers. He needs to work on his strength, but the athleticism makes him special, and boy does Behanan now know about it.
Naadir Tharpe has offers from Rutgers, Seton Hall, Indiana, Providence, Charlotte, Marquette, and Boston College. Also he has attention from Oklahoma, Miami, Wake Forest, and NC State.
Cleon Roberts says that Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, and Miami are in hot pursuit of him.
Damien Wilson claims offers from Tennessee, Clemson, Georgia, and Georgia Southern. Also interest is coming his way from Syracuse.
R.J. Hunter now has offers Cincinnati, Oregon State, and IUPUI. Also he is hearing from Michigan State, Michigan, and Notre Dame.
Patrick Ingram has offers from St. Louis, Indiana State, Southern Illinois, and Eastern Illinois. Ohio University, IUPUI, Butler, Dayton, and Michigan are also showing interest.
Ronnie Johnson has offers from Ohio University and Indiana State. Nevada, Detroit, and Southern Illinois are also in the mix.
Gabe York listed offers from Marquette, Stanford, Arizona, Colorado, and Miami with interest also coming in from Georgetown.