INDIANAPOLIS -- Like Brad Stevens from Butler, I’m out. Well, at least for a few days.
This blog has been rocking on the road since July 6 and it’s time to shut it down for a few days while I head home to rest up for the next leg of the road trip. We started in Las Vegas and spent time at the LeBron James Skills Academy, then shuttled down to South Carolina for the Nike Peach Jam before finishing up in Indianapolis at the adidas Invitational this past weekend.
So this is the final installment of the July Road Trip blog until Friday, after we go live from the Best of the South in Suwannee, Ga., starting on Thursday.
For the championship of the adidas Invitational on Sunday, we had several surprises.
First, the teams for highly ranked centers Goodluck Okonoboh (Boston/Wilbraham & Monson) and Stephen Zimmerman (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) both failed to advance to the final four.
Assistants from Duke, Ohio State, NC State, Michigan State, Indiana, UCLA and Michigan watched No. 9 recruit Kevon Looney on Sunday, but not a single head coach on his list was present.
Then in Sunday morning’s semifinals, the highest-rated senior in the event also bowed out when Kevon Looney (Milwaukee/Hamilton) and his Milwaukee Rebels, a hard-nosed bunch if there ever was one, met their match. Team Loaded VA didn’t have the talent to match the Rebels, but a technical to begin the game set the tone for their toughness as they ripped the team for Milwaukee.
In the other semifinal, Team Work got outworked by Spiece Indy Ice Thompson and we had our final. Not exactly the matchup we thought it would be, but two teams that showed some higher-rated programs the exit on their way to the title game. In the finals, Spiece Indy Ice jumped out early and never looked back on the way to the championship.
Here are some notes from Sunday’s action:
• The most effective player for Spiece Ice was shooting guard Daeshon Francis (Indianapolis/Lawrence North). The 2014 dynamo showed that he’s a dunking phenom. He’s seriously one of the best athletes I’ve seen this month. UMKC offered him a scholarship immediately following the championship game.
• Rising senior guard C.J. Coleman (Fortville, Ind./Mt. Vernon), Francis’ running mate with Spiece Ice, drew head coaches from UNC-Greensboro, IUPUI and Northern Kentucky.
• As usual, Looney was quite the man inside in the semifinals, but the hole the Rebels dug for themselves in the first half was too deep. It’s telling to see where coaches are on the final day of an evaluation period. Not a single head coach was there for Looney, though assistants from Duke, Ohio State, NC State, Michigan State, Indiana, UCLA and Michigan were there. This was a hard event to plan for because you couldn’t project who’d be playing on Sunday. But it does make you wonder what kind of an impression it would have made on Looney if a head coach had sold out and made the trek.
• Team Work forward Peyton Aldridge (Leavittsburg, Ohio/La Brae), a stretch 4-man, owns offers from Akron and Davidson, while Belmont and William & Mary are also trailing him. Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey, Dayton’s Archie Miller and an assistant from Boston College were courtside on Sunday.
• Quick teams to beat for a handful of forwards I saw on Sunday. Torin Dorn (Charlotte, N.C./Vance), the son of a former NFL player, said Charlotte is charging hard. Markell Lodge (Creedmoor, N.C./Christian Faith Center), a strong but undersized power forward, indicated that St. Joseph’s is actively pursuing him.
• Injury report: NC State pledge Caleb Martin (Mocksville, N.C./Davie County) is out 4-6 weeks with a foot injury. Team Loaded teammate Jonathan Williams (Newark, N.J./St. Benedict’s), a VCU commit, broke his foot and is done for the summer.
Up next: This week is the return of “Starting 5” (Tuesday) and “Telep’s Top 10” (Wednesday). Then on Thursday, I hit the road again for the Best of the South from hot and humid Suwanee, Ga. On a personal note, I haven’t been to Suwanee since sharing a meal there several years ago with Skip Prosser. Less than two weeks after our dinner, he passed away. I’ve heard numerous references to coach Prosser this month, and I speak for many in saying he’s never too far away from our thoughts during the month of July.