Saturday, July 13, 2013
Bragg among standouts on adidas Day 3
By Paul Biancardi
INDIANAPOLIS -- As the teams fight for a chance to advance to the championship game, Friday at the adidas Invitational was another day of passionate basketball. With two games per day, each team needs not only its stars but also its supporting players to step up.
Saturday marks the last full day of competition and begins bracket play as we move toward Sunday’s championship game, which will be televised on ESPNU at 2 p.m. ET.
But before we get to that, here’s a detailed breakdown of a few young players who separated themselves with their strong play on Friday during Day 3 of the adidas Invitational, including ESPN 60 forward Carlton Bragg and a pair of rising 2016 prospects.
ESPN 60 PF Carlton Bragg showed off his incredible athleticism on Friday at the adidas Invitational.
Bragg got a win and stepped up his game to another level in the second half against Dream Vision 16s in the afternoon session. He came out and made a 3-point shot, and when you watch the rotation on his jumper, it’s textbook. He also sprinted the floor and got some transition dunks as he plays the game with a high energy level and a smile.
During the night session, Bragg brought it again as he continued to produce. Potential from a year ago is now shaping into a player as Bragg is steadily contributing at both ends of the floor. His superior athletic ability was evident in both contests on Friday. His size, weight and length give him such an advantage in the paint and finishing in transition or in the half court.
He is also a committed rebounder with two hands at and above the rim as he will move to go get the ball. Several times on Friday he secured the possession and then utilized a bust-out dribble to attack the defense. At times he was successful, but other times he was going too fast and turned the ball over. On the defensive end, his long arms and great mobility make him hard to score over as he blocks or alters shots. He can also hedge out on ball screens with speed.
At this stage of his career he is an excellent finisher and drives to score with ease. When he approaches the rim, there’s always the potential for a highlight. He has also shown a mid-range jumper on a consistent basis with a developing 3-point shot. His is ultra-talented and his potential is starting to turn into production as his body and game continue to grow.
In the evening session on Friday, Adams had his best performance of the event. His teammate, ESPN 100 center Goodluck Okonoboh, was again strong as well.
Adams is a scoring guard who attacks the rim. When he rebounds a miss and converts from defense to offense, he separates from the pack with a burst of speed few other possess. As he approaches the foul line he will accelerate gears, surge past defenders, and make some acrobatic shots with floaters, flip shots, reverse layups or even finishing above the rim. The elite scorers all understand the importance of creating space, and Adams does it well with his patented crossover dribble to drive or fall into his pull-up jumper.
The long jumper still needs to improve, but he’s mature enough to own up to it. "I am working on it as I know right now it’s a weakness," he said.
He also looked comfortable in some ball-screen offense as he showed his playmaking ability at times. He is a natural at putting a defense on its heels as he looks rim first but can pull up and drain it in a spilt second if the defense backs up too much inside the arc. In the half-court set he blows right past his man and shows excellent body control on the finish. He is a hungry, relentless offensive player who is wired to score but will find an open teammate when you least expect it.
He has offers from Providence, Connecticut, Kansas State and Rhode Island, with interest from West Virginia, Temple and Miami (Fla.).
Kobi Simmons is a promising 2016 prospect still learning to play the point.
Right now Simmons is more of a scoring guard, but someday he will project as a big point guard because he owns great length, handle and vision.
He can sometimes be flashy but possesses a good IQ for a young player. At times he commits too many turnovers because of his showy style, but as he progresses he will learn to make the simple play. Valuing the ball will be instrumental to him reaching his potential, which is a high-level player.
In the morning session on Friday, the game was close when teammate Josh Langford went out with a cut eye and Simmons had to become the point guard in crunch time. A learning moment happened when the opposing team put on the full-court press and Simmons ran away from the ball. In those situations he must come back and get the ball.
He is still learning the position with a long way to go, but he is a growing point guard with a big upside. Defensively, he displays anticipation and made a key steal to help secure a morning win.
After the spring period, the ACC and SEC are showing strong recruiting interest.
When you scout enough games, you are always bound to find some new players. And while watching the U16s, Bradley caught my attention.
He is a low-post player with long arms and active feet. Rebounding is a priority for this rising sophomore as he moves his body horizontally and vertically to grab a miss shot. He also has an active body and looks to prevent an opponent from scoring by blocking and contesting shots.
On the offensive blocks he is wide enough to hold his position and shows great hands to catch and score with a solid jump hook. Always ready to catch a lob pass or a drop-off dish at the rim, Bradley doesn't mind contact. He is a promising prospect who needs to try to dominate inside and score with his back to the basket.