Adidas Invitational: What We Learned

MORE ADIDAS: Friday - Saturday
The Adidas Invitational concluded on Sunday, as college coaches returned home to compare notes with their staffs on prospects that they saw in the first of three July live evaluation periods. As always, the Adidas Invitational was packed with top-tier talent from all around the nation; however, the event featured significantly more upsets than normal, allowing some of the non-shoe company sponsored teams to step into the spotlight and get some major exposure during bracket play.
When the dust had settled on the event, Spiece Indy Ice defeated Team Loaded Virginia for the 17u title, hosts Indiana Elite knocked off Ohio Basketball Club for the 16u championship, and an underrated Ohio club in Team Work captured the 15u crown after a win over the Compton Magic.
With there to cover three days of the action in Indianapolis, here are some final notes on what we learned during the first evaluation period.
In-State Debate
It's not the strongest collection of talent to ever go through the Hoosier State, but there is still no shortage of mid- and high-level Division I prospects coming out of Indiana. During the tournament the in-state boys represented their turf well, taking home titles in the two biggest age divisions.
In particular, it was 2014 guard Bryant McIntosh as well as 2015 guards Hyron Edwards and Jalen Coleman who made the biggest splash.
Saturday's coverage called McIntosh the breakout player of the event, something that no one would argue, as the 6-foot-2 Greensburg (Ind.) native shot the lights out from all over the court, attacked the rim with his explosive first step and generally showed the competitive fire that college coaches love to see out a player who is trying to prove that he belongs at the high-major level. Being recruited at that level is no longer an issue for McIntosh after the Invitational, as the former Indiana State commit has earned a handful of offers from top programs to go along with interest from another dozen or so Midwestern high-majors.
Playing together on the 16-and-under circuit, Edwards and Coleman have combined to form one of the most feared backcourt duos in the country. Both have proven that they're prolific scorers who are willing to share the ball when the other one is feeling it and, more than anything, have grown accustomed to winning big games.
Coleman has drawn the interest of the Big Ten's top programs with his overall skill package and improved shooting ability. The La Lumiere (Ind.) Academy product had a strong and consistent overall event, but it was the heroics of Edwards, an East Chicago (Ind.) Central rising junior, that stole the show on Sunday.
In the championship game against Ohio Basketball Club, the 6-foot point guard exploded for a game-high 33 points, knocking down a barrage of three-pointers as his host team kept the Adidas Invitational title in Indiana. A Rivals100 guard in his class, Edwards has attracted Big Ten and other high-major offers and interest as well, in large part because of his reputation as a floor general who makes the right pass in pick-and-roll situations.
The Future Starts Now
If there was any one thing that separated this year's edition of the Invitational from past summers, it was the amount of underclassmen who left impressions on scouts. While the class of 2016 has become hyped to the point of ridiculous expectations, the following players not only performed up to the their lofty reputations; most of them also did so while playing up one or even two grades against older competition.
By the time we finished our third day of coverage, we had identified a minimum of fifteen players who seem destined to appear in the Rivals150 at some point in their high school careers, many of whom even looking like eventual four or five-star prospects.
While we're not going to go through and list all fifteen, a few in particular who really stood out included Justin Jackson, Amir Coffey, Joshua Langford, Mustapha Heron and T.J. Leaf.
Compared to your typical rising sophomore prospect, these players have more size, strength and athleticism then the top players out of previous classes, leading us to already look at this 2016 group as a potential surplus of star wings with versatile offensive games, and bigger guards with smooth skill-sets.
Jackson was probably the biggest star of all, as the Canadian native demonstrated a unique game as a 6-foot-7 player who is comfortable playing any position except for center. While Jackson's recruitment hasn't really taken off yet, the YAACE 15u leader had an excellent tournament run, showcasing his elite-level passing vision, strong frame and ability to impact the game in a variety of ways. Rumors are currently tying Jackson to the American prep school scene for right now, with all of the top basketball academies being mentioned as possible landing points. But for now he remains enrolled at his Toronto area high school.
Different Strokes
Usually on the highest level of the AAU circuit, athleticism, power and raw talent take over events and leave scouts and college coaches in awe. This year's Adidas Invitational was an exception, however, as finely tuned skill and basketball IQ dominated the court and true teams defeated talented players to win crucial pool and bracket play games.
The one skill that we saw more of at the Invitational then we have in AAU events this spring or summer was pure shooting ability. Guys such as McIntosh, Minnesota guard J.P. Macura, Matt Cimino and Rex Pflueger all showed that the art of jump-shooting might be going out of style, but it isn't dead yet.
In recent NCAA tournaments, three-point shooting has been the great equalizer, with mid- and low-major teams being capable of out-scoring more athletic high-major opponents due to a huge advantage in the most important skill in basketball, putting the ball in the basket.
As the game transcends into a new era, schools are looking more and more for bigger wings and forwards who can stretch the floor with shooting ability. And while athleticism will always be put at a premium, it takes players like McIntosh and Cimino to win at the highest level.
Elite Repeat
Last year's Adidas Invitational was heralded for the amount of true star power that descended on Indianapolis. The Adidas circuit was full of top tier talent, included a plethora of four-and five-star prospects, almost all of whom put on quite the show in July.
This year's coup of Adidas prospects might not have the depth at the top that last year's group had, but there are still plenty of stars wearing the three stripes this year. The class of 2014 features Craig Victor, Kevon Looney and Goodluck Okonoboh; while 2015 includes Stephen Zimmerman and a fast-rising group of forwards that includes Carlton Bragg and Chase Jeter.
Of the rising seniors, no one put on a better show over the course of the event than Victor. The 6-foot-8 New Orleans (La.) native who will be attending Findlay Prep (Nev.) next season showed that he had made considerable strides in the last year, hitting mid-range jumpers, showcasing improved athleticism and in general playing with more confidence on the floor.
The rising junior class might be even more impressive. In addition to Zimmerman, the No. 2 prospect in the 2015 Rivals100, players such as Bragg and Jeter are quickly making names for themselves on the national level with their combination of athleticism, perimeter skill and major, major upside at the power forward position.
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