NCB On The Trail: Dennis Smith Jr.

NEW YORK -- The Under Armour Elite 24 game is loaded with ESPN Recruiting Nation ranked players from the classes of 2015, 2016 and 2017 and can be seen at 7 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPNU live from Pier 2 of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Let's take a look at five matchups that we are most excited to see.

POINT GUARDS

ESPN 100 No. 62 Jawun Evans 6-foot, 180 (Dallas, Texas/Justin F. Kimball) vs. ESPN 60 No. 9 Dennis Smith Jr. 6-1, 173 (Fayetteville, N.C./Trinity Christian School): In this all-important lead guard matchup, it will exciting to see who will run their team, push the ball and set the tone. Evans -- a great finisher for his size -- has blinding speed and quickness and can get teammates involved. Smith beats defenders off the bounce with ease and is a playmaker for himself or teammates. He is a highlight finisher on the break who can simply put the defense on its heels and create help situations all over the offensive end of the floor.

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Adidas Nations, one of the final team events of the summer, finished its four-day run on Monday. The talent included outstanding players in the United States to top global prospects. In the championship game, 2016 adidas U.S. Lillard defeated 2016 adidas U.S. Wall, 106-78. 2015 adidas U.S. Howard won the consolation over team Europe, 52-46.

My five takeaways


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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Today is the last day of regular-season games as the playoffs approach. The players are competing at a high level as they work to build positive momentum to put their team in position to compete for the NBPA Top 100 Camp Championship.

Here are a few standout performances and the best matchup we witnessed on Friday.

Best matchup of the day

Dennis Smith Jr. vs. Derryck Thornton
This was a premier matchup between two of the best point guards in the Class of 2016 as Smith is the ninth overall player and Thornton stands 32nd.

Smith has the size, strength and shake as he was getting a piece of the paint on Thornton to score, dish out the assist or create fouls. Thornton countered with his basketball IQ, speed and quickness as a floor general. Thornton’s quickness allows him to get up under Smith as he had some solid on-ball defensive possessions. Thornton’s team came out in top while Smith continues to establish himself as one of the best point guards in the country regardless of class.


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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The opening day of the 2014 NBPA Top 100 not only brought out some of the nation’s top prospects in the 2015, 2016 and even 2017 classes, but some recruiting news as well.


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With the field expanding from 25 to 60 as the sophomores become juniors, here are 10 things to know about the prospects in the new ESPN 60 for the Class of 2016:

1. Jayson Tatum continues to make his move upward. The talented and skilled 6-foot-7 small forward has great feel and is a high-level playmaker with size and basketball intelligence. The St. Louis Chaminade College Prep standout made another slight jump within the top five, going from No. 4 to No. 3.

2. The rim-protecting dominance of center Udoka Azubuike has continued. A strong and physical low-post presence, the Jacksonville (Fla.) Potter's House Christian standout rebounds, finishes and blocks shots with power and has been rewarded by moving inside the top 10 at No. 6.

[+] EnlargeTerrance Ferguson
Kelly KlineTerrance Ferguson of Prime Prep Academy is a standout shooter in the ESPN 60.
3. There are some big-time wing scorers in the Class of 2016. These bucket-getters attack defenders and are difficult to deal with when they have the ball in their hands. Shooting guards Malik Monk and Josh Langford, small forwards Mario Kegler and V.J. King and SG Tyus Battle lead the top 20 players.

4. Shooting guard Terrance Ferguson has the sweetest shooting stroke in the top 10. Ferguson has a high release and excellent follow-through. He loves the corner jumper from behind the arc and shoots over smaller defenders as if they are invisible.

5. Combination forward Miles Bridges and point guard Dennis Smith are fresh faces in the top 10 because of their consistent production. A few dominant performances this spring on the travel circuit clearly separated them from their peers.

6. Point guard Jaylen Fisher has special court vision. The Arlington (Tenn.) Bolton standout puts the ball on time and on target and attacks the defense with his ability to penetrate. Fisher not only finds the open man but also delivers the ball in position to score on the catch.

7. Harry Giles made his debut this spring after suffering a knee injury that required surgery. The 6-9 Giles, from Winston-Salem (N.C.) Wesleyan Christian, is still rounding into form, but we did see flashes of his game before the injury from this talented power forward. He has all the tools to be a special player with terrific upside.

8. There's a lot of variety and versatility in the 2016 class. Many players can play and excel at two positions, both in the post and on the perimeter. A few examples are Bridges, Omari Spellman, Amir Coffey, Vance Jackson and Kobi Jordan-Simmons.

9. With only 10 true point guards in the ESPN 60, it is definitely a situation of quality over quantity. These point guards may be small in numbers, but all are very good players who will lead and make winning plays for their team. Newcomer Smith leads the way. Lonzo Ball, De'Aaron Fox, Trent Forrest, Derryck Thornton, Devearl Ramsey, Payton Pritchard, Xavier Simpson, Cassius Winston and Howard Washington all have had standout springs.

10. In comparison, the 2016 ESPN 60 will be better than the 2015 ESPN 60.

Adidas Dallas Gauntlet recap 

April, 27, 2014
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DUNCANVILLE, Texas -- The Duncanville Fieldhouse was the site of the Adidas Dallas Gauntlet, which is the first stop on the tournament series that will also head to Indianapolis (May 16-18) and Orlando, Fla., (May 23-26). These three qualifying events will determine which 32 teams will complete in championship play at the Adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas from July 23-27.

Here are a few players that stood out at this event, which was loaded with Division I-caliber talent.


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