LAS VEGAS -- Is it possible that five-star Jordan Brown has become the forgotten man in the class of 2018? Who else stood out in Vegas on Thursday? Here are five Thursday takeaways from time at the Adidas Summer Championships and the Fab 48.
IS JORDAN BROWN THE FORGOTTEN MAN?
For the life of me, I can't figure out why Jordan Brown doesn't get talked about a bit more. He's big, he's athletic, he has some nice skill and he's usually pretty productive. On Thursday, he went for 33 points and 17 rebounds against LaMelo Ball (38 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists) and the Big Ballers in a high scoring loss by his Play Hard Play Smart Squad.
Maybe I'm just on an island, but Brown continues to look to me like a potentially big-time player at the college level and beyond.
Brown and his family have kept the recruiting process mostly quiet, but California is working hard to keep him close to home, Gonzaga is trying to make a run, St. John's is watching very closely and many others like Arizona, UCLA, Oregon and Nevada have some involvement.
Perhaps the buzz on Brown will pickup throughout the week, perhaps it won't. Either way, he's not the forgotten man in 2018 to those paying attention.
FOUR-STAR LASZEWSKI IS FINDING CONSISTENCY
It was this week in Vegas two years ago that four-star forward Nate Laszewski of the New England Playaz landed on my radar. He stood out because of his size, skill and all-around versatility. Since then, there's been some ups and downs, but over the past few viewings he's been more and more consistent.
With his size, shooting ability and mobility, Laszewski is a potential steal at the bottom of the top 100 playing the way he is now. You can go big with him as a small forward or stretch defenses by using him as a four man. Basically, he fits the direction that the game is headed.
I also like that Laszewski has been well-coached by his high school and summer programs because I think it makes a big difference in the transition to college. Notre Dame and Vanderbilt have come on during July, USC and Pittsburgh jumped in during spring and others like Wake Forest, Providence and Miami have been involved for a while.
I'M BETTING ON C.J. WALKER LONG TERM PLUS FAB 48 EYE-CATCHERS
I spent my evening at the Fab 48 after a morning and afternoon at the Adidas Summer Championships. I'm glad I got over there because I was able to see four-star combo forward C.J. Walker of Each 1 Teach 1's 16U team. Walker is very skinny, but he's very athletic, he's very active on the glass and he has considerable upside as he gets older and adds physical strength. It's easy to see why programs like Florida, Louisville, UCF, USF, Florida State, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia Tech, LSU, Virginia Tech, North Florida and Wichita State have all offered. Walker said he's in the process of planning unofficial visits to Florida State, Alabama, Auburn and Lousiville.
Walker's teammate on Each 1 Teach 1, Tre Mann continues to look like an easy call as a high major in 2019. The four-star is a feisty competitor and it won't be a surprise if his recruitment turns into an all-out SEC slugfest.
He's not even started high school yet, but I couldn't help but be impressed by the play of 6-foot-6 wing Terrence Clarke of Expressions Elite 17U team. It's hard to imagine there are many kids with his size and comfort level on the perimeter who are getting ready for their freshman years in high school. I'll be real interested to see where he is a year from now.
Another 2019 kid who is starting to take things to the next level is shooting guard Khalif Battle. He's just got a way about him that keeps him from getting out of sync or rattled and he looks like he's going to be a big-time shot maker because of those steely nerves.
Five-stars Emmitt Williams and Moses Brown had moments. Williams is just so rugged and tough while Brown has big time size, can run and has decent hands. Williams teammates get the ball to him and if they don't he just goes and takes it off the rim. Brown doesn't get the ball so much and while gifted, could probably use a little more fire to his game at times.
DUKE'S UPSIDE AT THE POINT CONTINUES TO HOLD MY ATTENTION
The day when David Duke totally figures it out may not come for a couple of years and that's totally fine. He's already going to be a nice college player and with his size, athleticism and ability to run the show, he shows signs of being able to carry a team at some point.
It's just a matter of maturing and adding confidence because Duke can definitely get where he wants to go on the floor with the ball and has a versatile game.
Providence has really ramped things up and if I had to bet -- and what the heck I'm in Vegas -- I would currently have my money on the Friars. Villanova and Virginia are others that appear strong as well and all three had their head coaches watch on Thursday.
THE COACHES KEEP HUNTING
It's impossible to keep up with every head coach and to be sure of who exactly they were watching, but here are some of the head coaches I saw at games I checked in on.
Team Loaded VA and the New England Playaz attracted a pretty impressive head coaching crowd. Kansas, Duke, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Utah, Florida Gulf Coast, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall and Virginia Tech were just a few of the programs we saw represented. David McCormack is certainly a big priority for a few on the list and the previously mentioned Nate Laszewski is getting more and more popular.
Five-star Quentin Grimes got it going for Basketball University in the second half after a slow start and he had a big crowd to see him. Kansas, Kentucky, Marquette, Texas, Arizona and Baylor were on hand as were head coaches from Nebraska, Gonzaga and Michigan, to name a few. Top 40 2019 big man Will Baker was also impressive, racking up a double-double.
The Brookwood Elite duo of shooting guard Luguentz Dort and Noah Kirkwood is drawing crowds. Tom Izzo was rolling with two Michigan State assistants, Oregon, Baylor, Pittsburgh and more were repped by coaches as well.
Five-star Romeo Langford doesn't quite look himself playing through a back injury. During his Twenty Two Vision game against Dream Vision -- whose 2017 star Matt Mitchell (visited Utah and San Diego State in June) says he'll pick a school in the next few weeks or so -- I noticed head coaches from North Carolina, UCLA, Butler, Texas, Purdue, DePaul, Washington (also in on Mitchell) and Saint Louis to name a few. Jaxson Hayes on Langford's team is a 2018 big man who has been picking up steam with coaches.
The Team Loaded North Carolina and Mass Rivals game was jam packed with head coaches. Virginia Tech's Buzz Williams had three assistants with him for Nate Hinton and Minnesota's Richard Pitino, Tulsa's Frank Haith, Houston's Kelvin Sampson and Indiana's Archie Miller weren't rolling solo either. Other schools I saw repped by their head coaches at the game included Providence, Michigan, Arkansas, Butler, North Carolina, Villanova,Virginia, Penn State and Baylor. Trey Wertz is a shooter with upside who could be generating some action and four-star wing Landers Nolley was hot from three for Team Loaded NC.
Oregon, Rhode Island, Seton Hall, Dayton and Rice were among those with head coaches on hand for Team Final and Expressions.
Each 1 Teach 1 and New Heights -- featuring five-star discussed above Moses Brown and Emmitt Williams -- had head coaches from Florida, Oklahoma State, St. John's, Ohio State and Georgetown included in the crowd.