Friday marks the start of perhaps the most grueling and important week in summer basketball. The entire month of July always has been important because coaches are out evaluating, but there's something about a week of hoops featuring thousands of high school prospects packed into gyms all across the Las Vegas desert that stands out from the others.
Here's a look at some of the questions we'll be following in Vegas.
1. How super is Pool B at the adidas 64?
A staple of high-level events over the past couple of years has been the creation of Super pools. The idea is that high-powered teams won't balk at having to play each other in pool play because whether they win or lose, place in the championship bracket is guaranteed for Super pool teams. This year, Pool B at the Super 64 figures to be one of the more intriguing pools in quite some time.
The pool is made up of the Connecticut Basketball Club, Family First, New England Playaz and the Houston Hoopstars, and it sets up a potentially classic battle of the nation's top big men. In the pool are the class of 2012's top three centers in Andre Drummond, Kaleb Tarczewski and Cameron Ridley. Also in the pool is the nation's top-rated power forward Isaiah Austin, who could easily be projected at center.
Botom line, there won't be a more loaded pool of elite big men at an event anywhere else this summer. It's as good a group as anybody could put together to go head-to-head-to-head-to-head at an event.
2. Can the Fab 48 live up to its name again?
Last summer, Dinos Trigonis introduced a new event to the Las Vegas scene when he unveiled the Fab 48 at Bishop Gorman High School. Won by a loaded Oakland Soldiers team during its inaugural year, the Fab 48 is back for a second Vegas run and looks to be even more loaded than last year.
Back again are the Oakland Soldiers, who are once again loaded with talent such as five-star forwards Brandon Ashley and Aaron Gordon, and fast-rising point guard Dominic Artis. However, defending their title won't be so easy as the Playaz Basketball Club is led by top five rising senior Kyle Anderson, just one of many teams looking to stand in their way.
Trigonis set the bar pretty high a year ago; now it's up to the assembled field of talent to see if the others can reach it.
3. Can the Florida Rams Black keep it up?
Prior to the adidas Invitational held earlier this month in Indianapolis, nobody could have predicted that the Florida Rams Black would walk away with the championship hardware. This time around, at the Super 64, the Rams group will enter the event as marked men and won't be able to catch anybody by surprise.
A huge reason for the Rams success in Indianapolis was the play of class of 2013 point guard Kasey Hill. Currently unranked (Rivals.com had not yet evaluated him when class of 2013 rankings were completed), the 6-footer was the toast of Indianapolis due to his stellar results and a game predicated on athleticism and putting pressure on the defense.
Also making waves in Indianapolis was previously unknown shooting guard Dillon Graham, who used his ability to strip nets from deep to rack up high-major scholarship offers during the first half of July.