- Paul Biancardi, Basketball Recruiting
The Super 64 is the final part of the Adidas Gauntlet series that included 32 teams competing all spring and summer to participate in a championship this past weekend. There was individual star power and talented teams that fought hard to advance in this prestigious tournament. Indiana Elite beat Dream Vision in the championship at the Adidas Super 64, which is part of the Adidas Uprising program.
With ton of high-level action, here are my five takeaways from this event:
Team play and AAU basketball are still alive
With only one player from the ESPN 100, Hyron Edwards, the Indiana Elite squad shared the basketball by making constant extra passes and playing as a unit on its way to an upset of Dream Vision, which had three ESPN top 100 prospects (No. 13 Chase Jeter, No. 23 Justin Simon and No. 89 Bennie Boatwright). Indiana Elite was fun to watch because it didn't care who got the shot or the credit. The players recognized Ryan Cline had the hot hand (7-of-10 on 3-pointers) and made sure he got the most shots. With a 30-second shot clock in summer basketball, Indiana Elite looked like the San Antonio Spurs, so it proves that having a shot clock is needed and the game can still be played as a team on any stage.
Toughest seniors to defend
Ivan Rabb is one of the elite big men in the high school game, with a ton of upside, and Ben Simmons has had a tremendous summer displaying enormous versatility. However, Jaylen Brown is the hardest player defend. He is a combination of power and finesse with a set of skills to score the ball from all three levels (3s, middle game and at the rim).
Opponents have a big dilemma when trying to guard Brown because when a bigger, less mobile defender tries to guard him he takes his game behind the arc where he can run his man off screens, knock down shots or get a head of steam and drive the basket. If a similar-sized or smaller defender tries to chase him outside, he quickly recognizes the mismatch and begins to get closer to the basket and power his way into the lane for a short jumper or a play at the rim. When it comes to the fast break he can rebound, push it up the floor and finish the play. When you do contain or stop him, Brown will quickly give up the ball to an open teammate for the assist. Brown dominates the competition on most nights, but always gives a great effort. He is a star in the making. Brown's recruiting has blown up as UCLA, Kentucky, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Florida and Texas A&M are interested.
Thon Maker is the best in any class
With the frame of a true 7-foot center along with the mobility and agility of a forward, Maker also displays the scoring skill of a small forward. It's hard to find anyone like him in the high school game. It starts with his approach. He competes, stays focused throughout a contest and plays a team game with great effort. His skill level is strong away from the basket as he has 3-point range on his jump shot, handles and passes well from the high post, and can go to the blocks to score inside. Every game he rebounds, blocks or changes a bunch of shots, and comes up with a few deflections with his active hands and feet. Right now Maker has the most potential of any high school player in any class, and he is extremely productive with high-level performances. He is one of the few players who flirts with a triple-double in most games. If and when he has an off night he still shows effort, energy and passion for the game, which is a sign of a mature player. Moments before his game he told our Jeff Goodman of his plan for success: "I try and approach the game like Kobe Bryant, play with the intensity of Kevin Garnett and keep the frame of Kevin Durant," Maker said.
Underclassmen who impressed
With most of the focus on the senior and junior class, the Super 64 had more than its share of high-level young talent. A couple of names to remember in the future are Billy Preston (2017), who has the body of a power forward with a fluid set of skills. He displays great versatility at a young age and a great mix of power and skill, said Etop Udo-Ema, director of the Compton Magic. EJ Montgomery, a rising freshmen (2018) from the Atlanta Celtics, has a game similar to Lamar Odom as they are both left handed with a drive game and the versatility to score inside and outside.
Even though Jalen Adams (UConn) and Justin Simon (Arizona) have made their college decisions, their effort, approach and productivity have not changed. In fact in some cases it has been better than before. Some prospects tend to coast a little once they make their decision, feeling they have arrived. Adams is too competitive to let that happen. He plays with a flair as a clever guard who can beat most defenders off the bounce and get into the lane and be a playmaker or scorer. Simon is a big point guard who pushes the ball with speed between the free throw lines looking to put pressure on a defense. He defends hard on the ball in a low and wide stance and looks to distribute and make his teammates look good on offense.