NCB On The Trail: Henry Ellenson

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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

LAS VEGAS -- The LeBron James Skills Academy concluded on Saturday with an impressive North Carolina squad methodically putting away a talented Syracuse team 65-52 in the championship. North Carolina was a well-rounded team that received a number of stellar performances from the likes of Ivan Rabb, Aaron Falzon, Malik Monk, Jake Lindsey, Cassius Winston and Aaron Holiday.

Here were some of the standout performances and interesting storylines from the LeBron camp:

Intriguing matchup


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LeBron James Skills Academy recap: Day 2 

July, 11, 2014
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Ivan Rabb, the No. 1 player in the ESPN 100, has had his moments at this camp. However, Ben Simmons is making a strong push for that spot as he has been clearly the best player after a couple of sessions. There is no player in the country who combines skill, savvy and athleticism like Simmons.

Most explosive

Malik Monk
2016, SG, 6-foot-3, 180 pounds


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Nike Bigs and Ones Skills Academy recaps 

June, 26, 2014
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UNION, New Jersey -- The first wave of Nike’s annual Skills Academies came to Kean University this week for The Bigs Skills Academy and The Ones Skills Academy, for big men and point guards, respectively.

A total of 34 players -- 19 guards and 15 big men -- took part in three days of skill development led by longtime NBA coach Kevin Eastman while picking up extra tutelage from NBA stars such as Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Michael Carter-Williams and Trey Burke, among others, as their college counterparts went through similar sessions on the next court. Here’s a look at who stood out:


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Accusations of academic scandal have hit North Carolina once again. This time it is specific to the men’s basketball program.

While the plot has only thickened since the first “Outside the Lines” report, what many now want to know is whether there will be any tangible impact on the product Roy Williams and UNC will put on the floor.

[+] EnlargeRoy Williams
Grant Halverson/Getty ImagesHow will the accusations of academic fraud impact Roy Williams' ability to recruit his 2015 class? It's probably still too early to tell.
The simple truth is we don’t know yet. Should this spark another investigation or the NCAA deem it necessary to get involved, there could certainly be repercussions. Otherwise, while it’s something that Williams will have to deal with on the recruiting front, it’s likely not an insurmountable obstacle.

You could also make the argument that North Carolina’s 2015 recruiting class is now even more important than ever, as the Tar Heels will look to silence those critics who may be whispering of their demise from the shadows.

On the surface there aren’t many pieces to replace, as Desmond Hubert is the only scholarship player in the senior class. They do have additional scholarships available, however, and that could be important should Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, or incoming freshman Justin Jackson play well enough next season to warrant an early jump to the NBA.

From the looks of its early recruiting, North Carolina appears to be focusing on 10 players with hopes of bringing in a three-man class.


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The ESPN 60 has officially grown into the ESPN 100 for the Class of 2015, and there are plenty of intriguing storylines among the top rising seniors in the country:

[+] EnlargeIvan Rabb
Chris Williams/Icon SMIIvan Rabb maintained his tenuous hold on the No. 1 spot in the 2015 class.
1. Top spot still up for grabs. Ivan Rabb has retained his spot as the top-ranked prospect in the Class of 2015, but make no mistake about it: This remains a very tight race that will continue to play out for the next 12 months. Rabb’s versatility and efficiency during the Elite Youth Basketball League regular season, in addition to his vast physical upside, were enough for him to retain his title. But he has plenty of competition. Ben Simmons has been coming on as strong in recent months as any prospect in the class, as he is now turning potential into production on a much more consistent basis. In a class full of scoring guards, Malik Newman stands out as the most talented of them all, and very likely the best pure scorer in the ESPN 100. Diamond Stone has had an equally dominant spring in the Under Armour Association, playing his way into the top four and asserting his claim as a contender in the race for the No. 1 spot.

2. Oh, Henry. No player has made a more dramatic jump up the rankings than Henry Ellenson, who went all the way from No. 47 to No. 5 in the ESPN 100. Ellenson averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds per game for Playground Elite during the EYBL season, showing a versatile and unique game for a 6-foot-9 power forward, all while continuing to raise his level of his production with each passing week. He can shoot the ball from the 3-point line but is also a threat to put the ball on the floor. He is perhaps most effective when he’s able to get out and run in transition.

3. Other risers. Ellenson is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to players whose stock is rising. Jaylen Brown had a terrific spring on the adidas Gauntlet circuit and played his way into the top 10. Chase Jeter jumped more than 20 spots to land at No. 13, while Michigan State-bound big man Deyonta Davis moved up 30 spots to No. 18. Other spring stock risers include Justin Simon, who went from 45 to 23; Jalen Adams, 46 to 33; and Jalen Coleman, who hopped 24 spots to land at No. 34 in the ESPN 100.

4. Announcing his arrival. Previously a member of the 2016 class, Caleb Swanigan is making his debut in the 2015 rankings at No. 17 after announcing his reclassification last month. The wide-bodied 6-9 big man has nimble feet for a player of his size and an even bigger presence on the backboards. He led the entire EYBL in rebounding this season and was equally dominant cleaning the glass on both ends. His recruitment has also heated up, with Arizona and Kansas joining a long list of scholarship offers that already included Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue and many others.

5. More notable newcomers. While Swanigan might be the most notable of the new prospects in the ESPN 100, he’s far from the only one. In a class in desperate need of point guards, Corey Sanders has helped to fill a major void. He was unranked in the last ESPN 60 but now makes his ESPN 100 debut ranked No. 31 in the class. Former UConn commit Prince Ali is another prospect who was on the outside looking in the last time we updated rankings, but he has more than proved himself in recent months. Tres Tinkle, Admon Gilder and De'Jounte Murray make their debuts in the top half of the ESPN 100.

[+] EnlargeJessie Govan
Bart Young/USA BasketballGeorgetown commit Jessie Govan is trending back up the ESPN 100.
6. Down but not out. As some prospects go up the rankings, others must go down, but sometimes that’s just the spark of motivation they need to reassert themselves in the coming months. Jessie Govan and Terance Mann are examples of prospects who slipped out of the rankings at one point in time but are now trending back in the right direction. At No. 23, Tyler Dorsey is a prospect who could make another climb up the ESPN 100 before all is said and done, while the same can be said for P.J. Dozier, Charles Matthews, Doral Moore and K.J. Lawson.

7. Big and getting bigger. The 2015 class was already well known for the amount of size and frontcourt depth, but that has become an even bigger (no pun intended) trend in these most recent rankings. In fact, 11 of the top 15 ranked players in the class come at either the center or power forward positions, making this far and away the most frontcourt-dominated class we’ve seen in recent memory.

8. Plenty of positional size. Size is a characteristic of this class, not just among the frontcourt positions, but across each of the five positions on the floor. Even the perimeter players atop the class have terrific size relative to their spot on the floor. Jaylen Brown is no slouch of a wing at 6-5, while Brandon Ingram’s 6-8 frame is ideal. Malachi Richardson has equally imposing size at the shooting guard position at 6-6. Conversely, we don’t see a player 6 feet or under until Kendall Small (ditto on the no pun intended) checks in at No. 60.

9. Scoring guards. While the big men dominate the top of the rankings, many of the best guards in the class all seem to come from a similar prototype. They handle the ball more than natural 2-guards and yet are more focused on their individual offense than pure point guards. Instead, guys such as Newman, Antonio Blakeney, Allonzo Trier and Isaiah Briscoe can be best described as scoring guards -- guards who act as the primary playmakers for their respective teams but look for their own offense first and foremost before passing as a result of forcing the defense to collapse or rotate.

10. On the cusp. The final spots in the ESPN 100 are always some of the most debatable, essentially because there are so many prospects who can make a legitimate claim on the top 100 status. That was particularly true this year, when proven players such as Bryant Crawford and Rex Pflueger were left just on the outside looking in, along with other deserving prospects such as Joseph Toye, Matt Ryan, Chimezie Metu, Marcus Derrickson and several others.

EYBL Session III recap 

May, 19, 2014
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HAMPTON, Va. -- The third installment of the 2014 Nike EYBL came to the Boo Williams Sports Complex this weekend. Here’s a look at some of the major storylines:


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Nike EYBL awards 

April, 28, 2014
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The first session of the Nike EYBL unveiled a plethora of talent that will be showing up on college campuses in the near future. Ivan Rabb is ranked as the No. 1 player in the 2015 class, but if this weekend showed us anything, that ranking is anything but solidified going forward. LSU commit Ben Simmons exhibited his vast skill set throughout the weekend and is coming on strong, and this is just the Nike side of the story.

Best Prospect

Ben Simmons
2015, PF, 6-foot-9, 220 pounds
Status: Committed to LSU
Simmons has that prototypical Division I frame with length and upside. His skill set is perimeter-oriented and quite polished. He can face up and dissect the defense with his passing or drain the 3-point shot. His motor fluctuates and it would be ideal to see him impact the game in the paint more at both ends going forward.


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NY2LA Swish n' Dish tournament recap 

April, 8, 2014
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MILWAUKEE -- The NY2LA Swish n' Dish tournament has become the destination event of the spring. The event features most of the top programs in the Midwest and is always full of top-level talent competing and playing hard. Here's a look at some of the best prospects from the tournament.

Best power forwards


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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

When you go to a Final Four, your legacy changes as a coach and a player. However, the way you recruit should not change because that philosophy is what got you to a Final Four and that should stay intact. Far too often I have seen coaches change their methods and try to go after higher-profile kids, thinking they can now land bigger fish. In the case of Wisconsin, coach Bo Ryan has a style when recruiting: He goes after skilled players with toughness and solid basketball IQs. He likes to find interchangeable players who can hurt a defense from different spots on the floor (think Nigel Hayes). The staff looks for big men with ball skills who can also produce inside and guards who like to score inside as well as behind the arc.

Making the Final Four won't instantly land Wisconsin better recruits, but the actual benefits come down the road with future classes, especially in 2016 and 2017 because it will be fresh in their minds when they start to think about schools. Going to the Final Four builds recruiting momentum for the upcoming years by opening doors and getting people's attention. When the Badgers want to pursue top 2015 prospects such as Diamond Stone, who is No. 5 in the ESPN 60, or Henry Ellenson, who is No. 47, it will certainly help. Wisconsin was already involved with these two prospects, but now they will get an even better look.

#AskCoachB: Better fit for Wisconsin

February, 20, 2014
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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.



The simple and best answer for the first question is: both. They are each outstanding big men in the Class of 2015.

Henry Ellenson is a strong and skilled post player with excellent shooting range and plenty of upside. The Badgers have been on him and are making him a priority. He was in attendance at the Kohl Center when Wisconsin recently beat Michigan State.

Diamond Stone is in the Badgers' back yard and his name has been on our boards since his freshman season. He is a legit 6-foot-10 post who has the skill to face the basket with post moves. That's rare at such a young age. He still needs to learn how to give maximum effort all the time, however.

Both fit extremely well in Bo Ryan's system because the Wisconsin coach has been successful utilizing big men who face the basket.

I believe Stone has the better chance of staying in state. He has two outstanding options in Marquette and Wisconsin.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.


The Michigan Wolverines are having another strong season on the court this year, despite losing a pair of NBA players in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. They are on top of the Big Ten standings playing without one of their main weapons in Mitch McGary, who had back surgery.

One thing that is evident under John Beilein and staff: They put effort into their evaluations and it pays off because most of their recruits fit their system.

Projecting needs for the 2015 class could vary based on who departs for the NBA, transfers and, of course, graduation. Their class for 2014 is ranked at No. 39. This is not a complete list, but here are some main targets for the Wolverines in the Class of 2015:

Stephen Zimmerman (Las Vegas /Bishop Gorman) Jalen Brunson (Chicago/Stevenson), Luke Kennard (Franklin, Ohio/Franklin) Carlton Bragg (Cleveland/ St. Joseph's), Diamond Stone (Milwaukee/ Dominican), Eric Davis (Saginaw, Mich./ Arthur Hill), Henry Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wis./Rice Lake).

Notebook: Potential pair for Providence 

August, 9, 2013
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This week’s Friday recruiting notebook includes a look at a potential ESPN 100 package deal for Providence, handicapping the race for ESPN 100 point guard Kaleb Joseph, the final eight for No. 10 recruit Myles Turner, and plenty more recruiting news and notes.

Abdul Malik-Abu
Dave Telep/ESPNESPN 100 PF Abdul-Malik Abu is down to Providence, Florida, NC State and UConn.
Abu, Terrell and Providence?

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LAS VEGAS -- The underclassmen took center stage during Thursday's action at the adidas 64. Despite the sweltering heat in Vegas, scouts and coaches were treated to the dazzling talents of ESPN 25 prospect Josh Jackson (Detroit, Mich./Consortium) and ESPN 60 PF Carlton Bragg. Jackson has the physical tools and a feel for the game that is rare to see for a player of his youth, leading some in Michigan to call him the best prospect the state has produced since Chris Webber and Jalen Rose. Right now I would agree with that assessment but time will tell if it comes to fruition.

Not to be upstaged by the young guys, Florida commit Brandone Francis was also impressive for the senior class.

Here's a closer look at the top stars on Day 2 in Las Vegas.

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INDIANAPOLIS -- The fifth annual adidas Invitational kicked off the July evaluation period this past week with more than 300 teams competing from Wednesday through Sunday. The pool was deep with potential players for all college levels, including high-major stars, mid-major prospects and under-the-radar recruits who emerged as talents to watch.

Let’s take a look at several top players from multiple classes who caught our eye throughout this elite five-day tournament. Here are our adidas Invitational superlatives.

[+] EnlargeSam Logwood
Kelly Kline/AdidasESPN 100 SF Sam Logwood showed off his athleticism and versatility at the adidas Invitational.
Most Explosive
Sam Logwood (Indianapolis/La Lumiere)
2014, PF/SF, 6-foot-7, 205 pounds

AAU: Eric Gordon All-Stars (Keeton)
Offers: Auburn, Mississippi State, Indiana State, Bradley and Miami (Ohio)
Interest: Oregon, Michigan State and Duke
Logwood is a combo forward who is more of a power forward at this time with a college-ready body. He excels in transition with his ability to play above the rim on the break, and in the half-court set he is a good two- or three-dribble straight-line driver who can finish through contact. Logwood will have to continue to develop his jumper and ballhandling. He is also a good rebounder, especially on the offensive glass, where his second jump is as quick and explosive as his first. Logwood is a capable multiple-position defender as well. He can switch and contain positions 1 through 3 and can defend a power forward in a small lineup. The bottom line is that Logwood plays hard and competes on both ends of the floor.

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