CHICAGO-Monday night, those who had a chance to watch the final two games of the Adidas Nations Experience got to see many things. They got to see a boatload of talented players. However, they also got to see a bunch of tired kids who have been playing non-stop basketball since early April and the play was ragged at times. However, that didn't stop guys like Cody Zeller and Cezar Guerrero from having big nights while leading their teams -- USA 2011 for Zeller and Latin America for Guerrero -- to first and third place trophies.
We take a final look at the event's closing festivities and some notes and observations from the weekend in general here.
Monday night notables
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Cody Zeller, PF/C- The nature of these events is that big guys just don't always get a lot of touches. And, the Nations teams each consisted of 15 players so playing time was spread out amongst a lot of guys making it tough for guys to really go off. But, that didn't stop Zeller from making positive contributions throughout the event. He finished over defenders at the rim, stretched defenses with the threat of his outside shot. Most importantly, he was a factor on the glass, on both ends of the floor and in and out of his immediate area.
Cezar Guerrero, PG- Monday night capped off a great weekend for the speedy, slender point guard from California. Just as he did all weekend long he led his team in scoring, dropped dimes to teammates and proved to be a surprisingly good rebounder. He still has a tendency to leave his feet while looking to make plays, but his development as a floor general and decision maker has been undeniable.
Rodney Purvis. PG- When it comes time to rank the class of 2013, Purvis is going to have to at least be discussed for the top spot. Let's be clear, he's probably more of a combo at this point. But, he's easy to project as a physical, athletic and hard charging point down the road. We'd never really seen how he reads pick and roll situations but he proved in Chicago that he's more than comfortable in those situations and a good decision maker. He appears to be the total package on and off of the floor.
Quinn Cook, PG- Selected as the championship game MVP, the six footer led a second half charge for the 2012 guys as they avenged a Saturday loss to the USA 2012 group. A clever, natural scorer who is capable of converting from tough angles it was good to see him making more plays for others. The bottom line is that he's wired to make plays and this kid is going to score a lot of points, have a lot of assists and win a lot of games during his college career. He confirmed, yet again, that he's Oak Hill bound for his senior year.
Shabazz Muhammad, SG- The USA 2012 team looked ragged to close out the event but the 6-foot-5 wing still seemed on top of his game. He's superbly conditioned, has the demeanor to forget negative plays and is always going to compete. He hits spot up jumpers, beats the pack down the floor to make plays at the rim in transition and has a viable post game that few, if any, wings in the country can match.
Final notes/observations from Adidas Nations
Just how he develops and how long it takes for Marshall Plumlee to make an impact on the floor at Duke will be interesting to watch. He lacks ideal length and still has work to do from a skill standpoint, but being around him for a few days it's hard not to notice his work ethic, outstanding attitude and great motor. Those tools and his excellent run and jump athleticism should serve him well as he waits his turn in Durham. He made the best offensive move we've ever seen from him on a slick shoulder fake/turnaround jumper during Monday night's finale. ... Quincy Miller didn't finish things off as strongly as he would have liked. But, even in an off game he was still his team's second leading scorer and made some things happen off the dribble and with his quickness. He was really bothered at times by the overall length and size of guys like Isaiah Austin. Long term, it's going to good for him and his development that he left the event knowing that even as good as he is, there are still some areas of his game (strength, release point on jumpers) that need fine tuning. ...
Because he's not a flashy athlete or player in general, the effectiveness of Wayne Blackshear sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. He's got good strength, makes plays on both ends of the floor and has an excellent basketball acumen. However, after watching him extensively this summer, it really looks like it might be more appropriate to evaluate him as a small forward than a shooting guard. ... Developing big man Cameron Ridley again had his moments. The strong as an ox junior to be is tough to move around in the post, has above average hands and shows a little something new each time out. When you can take blows from wide-bodies like Dajuan Coleman and Jarnell Stokes. ... Speaking of Stokes, one concern with him has been how he'll do as a bit of an undersized post when confronted with bigger, lengthier guys on a nightly basis. At Nations this was the case and the Memphian struggled scoring in the post because of it. To his credit, Stokes is working hard to fine tune/develop his game to combat that in the future and there wasn't a player in attendance who made better use of the resources available to him. It seemed like every time we looked the big man was picking the brain of a coach, former pro or scout in attendance to get tips on how to improve. ...
He's still a work in progress, but we've got to give it up to recent Indiana commitment Peter Jurkin. The junior has made tremendous strides in his game and has learned to compete and make sure he utilizes every bit of his long, seven foot frame on each end of the floor. His offense is still raw, but he's improved enough to warrant serious discussion for inclusion Rivals150 for the class of 2012 when we update/expand it in the near future. ... Can't say enough about the job done by Jamie Dixon and his staff at Pitt to identify and lock up New Zealand big man Steven Adams. A physical, athletic and strong 6-foot-10 center, Adams plays rugged basketball on both ends of the floor and doesn't stray from the paint. From start to finish he was the event's best rebounder and maybe the most physical player. ...
Finally, a thank you to all of the folks at Adidas Nations for putting together an incredibly well-run event. Anything a media member could have possibly needed was made available and usually before even having to ask about it. ...