NCB On The Trail: Lonzo Ball

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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

Fab 48 recap 

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
8:30
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The Las Vegas stretch of the last evaluation period is exhausting, to say the least. Watching games for at least 12 hours a day can take its toll on the mind and body. However, there is nothing better to get the juices flowing again when you can arrive at the gym and take in an epic matchup of 2016 prospect Lonzo Ball against the terrific trio of Oregon-bound Kendall Small, San Diego State-bound Jeremy Hemsley and Stephen Thompson Jr. The game was sloppy at times and the defensive intensity was an afterthought, but the game exhibited the talents of these four West Coast talents.

Best Player

[+] EnlargeIsaiah Briscoe
AP Photo/The Augusta Chronicle, Jon-Michael SullivanIsaiah Briscoe showed why he's one of the top point guards in the 2015 class.
Isaiah Briscoe (Union, N.J./Roselle Catholic)

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Scout on the road 

July, 1, 2014
Jul 1
2:00
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LOS ANGELES -- The past few weeks while elite camps have been dominating the recruiting landscape, there have been a plethora of high school tournaments littered along the Los Angeles landscape. Here are some players who stood out during that time:


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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.
LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Though the overall talent level was diminished in comparison to previous years, this year's Pangos All-American Camp still included several talented prospects, led by McDonald's All American candidates Isaiah Briscoe and Stephen Zimmerman.

Best player


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So-Cal Hoop Review has elite field 

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
10:21
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GARDEN GROVE, Calif. -- Gerry Freitas put together the most talent-laden So-Cal Hoop Review event in its tenure with 110 teams in attendance. Many of the elite players were on hand including UCLA commit Lonzo Ball, ESPN Super 60 prospects Kendall Small, Stephen Thompson Jr. and Jeremy Hemsley, as well as well as 2017 studs DeAndre Ayton and Cody Riley. Here's a look at the field.

Most upside

Lonzo Ball
2016, PG, 6-foot-5, 185 pounds
Status: Committed to UCLA
Ball is the most physically gifted point guard in the West and quite possibly the country. His passing has some Jason Kidd written all over it and he'll rebound and score from all three levels. However, his on-ball defense needs much work and his shot mechanics (low release) need polishing.

DeAndre Ayton
2017, PF, 6-10, 220 pounds
Status: All major conferences will be involved with him before it’s all said and done
Ayton is a physical specimen with a Kevin Garnett frame. His fundamentals (plays too straight up and down) and post skills (lacks feel with back to the basket) need a lot of work. However, there is no one on the West Coast with his size, athleticism, and overall upside.


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CIF Southern Section review 

March, 10, 2014
Mar 10
2:00
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The last couple of weeks were spent venturing all over Southern California for the CIF Southern Section Championships, casting my eyes upon some of the better prospects around the region. At the end of the day it became quite clear, yet again, Arizona signee Stanley Johnson (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) is too much to handle at this level.


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10 things to know about the 2016 class 

January, 28, 2014
Jan 28
9:30
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The updated ESPN 25 for the Class of 2016 is again led by center Thon Maker (Martinsville, Va./Carlisle School), who is the top prospect. Three prospects have joined the rankings: Center Udoka Azubuike (Jacksonville, Fla./Potters House Christian), point guard Derryck Thornton (Chatsworth, Calif./Findlay Prep) and small forward T.J. Leaf (El Cajon, Calif./Foothills Christian), and many of the returning players have continued to improve their games which ultimately makes the 2016 class better as a whole.

Here are 10 things to know about the prospects in the Class of 2016:


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Fairfax State Preview recap 

January, 27, 2014
Jan 27
8:29
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LOS ANGELES -- Arizona signee Parker Jackson-Cartwright had his fingerprints all over Loyola's victory at the Fairfax State Preview, as the Cubs pulled away from a feisty El Camino squad. Up until Jackson-Cartwright's wizardry, the theme of the event had a "youth will be served" feel to it as a number of underclassmen put on sparkling performances, including sophomores Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills, Calif./Chino Hills), Devearl Ramsey (Chatsworth, Calif./Sierra Canyon), and Brandon Cyrus (San Diego, Calif./Torrey Pines).

Best Player

Parker Jackson-Cartwright (Los Angeles/Loyola)
2014, PG, 5-foot-8, 145 pounds
Status:
Signed with Arizona


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Southern Cal recap: Standout players 

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
3:00
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LOS ANGELES -- During the last couple of weeks, there have been a plethora of one-day showcases, including stops at the Cavalier Classic, Southern California Shootout and the MLK Shootout.

A year ago, names like Stanford signee Michael Humphrey (Phoenix/Sunnyslope) and Boise State signee Chandler Hutchison (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo) were virtual unknowns. However, with their development, they're now national names and terrific prospects going forward.

Most versatile (post player)
Michael Humphrey (Phoenix/Sunnyslope)
2015, PF, 6-foot-9, 210 pounds
Status: Signed with Stanford

The Cardinal will be losing quite a bit of their frontline, but they'll have some reinforcements with Reid Travis (Minneapolis/De La Salle) and Humphrey. Strength is a concern at this stage, but Humphrey's bounce, lateral quickness, ball skills and touch are impressive.


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Scout's take: Lonzo Ball to UCLA 

January, 9, 2014
Jan 9
10:02
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UCLA is hot both on the court and in recruiting.

After a huge crosstown win against USC on Sunday, the Bruins landed ESPN 25 prospect Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills, Calif./Chino Hills High School.)

Why he committed:
When Steve Alford and his staff took the UCLA job, they immediately begin recruiting Ball, and now it's paid off. Ball was recently on an unofficial to UCLA when the Bruins pounded USC, and it only took a few days after that win for him to commit to the Bruins. Once Ball witnessed the up-tempo atmosphere of Alford’s offense, he felt that he would be a perfect fit in that system.


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Under Armour Holiday Classic recap 

December, 31, 2013
12/31/13
2:05
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SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- After a down year in 2012 in terms of talent, the 2013 Under Armour Holiday Classic featured a tournament loaded with individual talent and quality teams.

Savvy veterans like North Carolina-bound Theo Pinson (High Point, N.C./Wesleyan Christian Academy) and Arizona-bound Parker Jackson-Cartwright (Los Angeles, Calif./Loyola) had their way with the competition, while up-and-comers Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills, Calif./Chino Hills) and Bryce Aiken (Elizabeth, N.J./The Patrick School) exhibited glimpses of what the future beholds.

Best All-Around
Theo Pinson (High Point, NC/Wesleyn Christian Academy)
2014, SF, 6-foot-6, 210 pounds
Status: Signed with North Carolina

With his athleticism, length and improved perimeter skill set, Pinson pretty much did whatever he wanted against the competition. He was electrifying in the open court, made sound decisions (played point guard at times) and was disruptive on the defensive end due to his long arms and active hands.


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Frosh/Soph event shows West is rising 

September, 30, 2013
9/30/13
10:50
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CERRITOS, Calif. -- The Fullcourt Press Frosh/Soph Camp is further proof that the west coast is on its way back to national prominence. It's no coincidence that the Pac-12 Conference has been down the last couple of seasons as a result of a shallow recruiting pool out West. However, as Sam Cooke eloquently sang in the 1960s, "A Change Is Gonna Come."

Now, the recruiting outlook in the West is improving significantly, especially with the likes of 2016 standouts Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf.

Best of the 2016s


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CALIFORNIA -- The second of July's three evaluation periods ended with a bang out West this past weekend, with a pair of exciting events taking place in California.

Marshawn Cherry's San Diego All-Stars Pump-n-Run squad efficiently put away the competition in impressive fashion to win the Double Pump Best of the Summer event in Anaheim. The victors were led by one of the fastest rising prospects in the country in Trey Kell.

As Kell and his teammates were celebrating their championship, Ryan Silver launched his Pangos Stars of the Future event, and to say it was a success would be an understatement. The prospects in attendance ranged from the Class of 2015 to 2017, and none were as impressive as 6-foot-10 DeAndre Ayton. Many other recruits contributed standout performances, including Max Heidegger, Nuwr'iyl Williams and Vance Jackson.

Let’s take a closer look at which prospects made the most noise at the two West Coast events.

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Best of Fairfax Summer Classic 

July, 1, 2013
7/01/13
4:25
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LOS ANGELES -- Inside a sweltering Fairfax gymnasium, El Camino Real (Woodland Hills) relied on its outstanding guard play, suffocating defense and timely outside shooting to defeat Stanley Johnson-less Mater Dei, 56-43. The Conquistadors’ perimeter depth was too tough to handle for the Monarchs as turnovers became an issue in the second half. El Camino stars Kelton Conway, Maleke Haynes, Evan Wardlow and Julian Richardson delivered at both ends of the floor to lead the way.

On the individual front, point guard Lonzo Ball, big man Thomas Welsh and up-and-comer Nuwriyl Williams made sure scouts took notice of their loaded tool boxes. Here’s a look at all the prospects that caught our eyes.

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