The 2013 Adidas Nations tournament took place this past weekend in Garden Grove, CA and wrapped up with a televised championship game in Long Beach, CA. Some of the top talent in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 classes in the United States played against each other, as well as against foreign teams that represented Africa, Asia, Australia, Latin America, and Russia. After four months of continuous travel, the players were on their last fumes but still managed to compete. Here’s a look at some of the standout players.
Stanley Johnson, 6’7”, F, Mater Dei (CA)
Johnson continued his impressive summer play and led his team to the championship game. His team lost by four points, but Johnson finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds. He used his strength and speed to find open shots in the lane and also hit two shots from behind the arc. On a stacked team, Johnson averaged 11.8 points per game and proved that he is one of the toughest players to guard in the high school ranks.
Jahlil Okafor, 6’10”, C, Whitney Young (IL)
The top player in the country used his massive size to put up 13.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. After being named to the first team of the U19 FIBA World Championships, Okafor had somewhat of a quiet summer on the AAU circuit. In California, it didn’t take long for Okafor to establish his dominance. He scored on his patented left to right hand spin move along with numerous lay-ups and dunks. Okafor even had a few possessions where he grabbed the defensive rebound and went coast to coast through traffic for baskets.
D’Angelo Russell, 6’4”, G, Montverde Academy (FL)
After a very rough April – June period, it’s safe to say that Russell has returned to claim one of the top spots in the shooting guard hierarchy. His confidence was on full display this weekend as he took a team high 59 shots in five games. The Ohio State Buckeyes bound lefty was knocking in three’s from the wing just like he did this past year at Montverde and was also hitting pull-up jump shots and attacking the basket. His versatility was also seen in the championship game as he finished with 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Ahmaad Rorie, 6’0”, PG, Lincoln (WA)
The only true point guard on his squad, Rorie (California Golden Bears pledge) helped guide his team to the championship game and scored seven points on 3-4 shooting. Throughout the tournament, Rorie set-up the team’s offense but also provided some scoring from the point guard spot. He has a quick release on his shot and was efficient in his shot selection which included an 11 point game on 5-7 shooting.
Jaylen Johnson, 6’9”, F, Yipsilanti (MI)
Johnson took a backseat to his talented teammates but the up and coming power forward’s potential was evident during the weekend. He only averaged 4 points and 2 rebounds per game but he did put together a six point, eight rebound performance in extended minutes. Right now, Johnson is still a bit raw, but can run the floor and his length and bounce allows him to block shots in the post.
Carlton Bragg, 6’8”, PF, St. Joseph (OH)
The 6’8” forward was one of the most impressive underclassmen in the tournament. He averaged 11.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game while shooting 54% from the field. His stat line improved each game, culminating in an 18 point, 4 rebound performance against a senior laden USA team. In three games, Bragg’s inside/outside game was on full display. He threw down viscous dunks off of rebounds, hit short post-ups, and knocked in several three’s. Normally known as an inside player, Bragg has worked hard on his outside game and made significant strides in this area. Expect his rise up the rankings to continue.
Moustapha Diagne, 6’9”, PF, Pope John XXIII (NJ)
One of the top risers during the spring on the east coast, Diagne averaged 8.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. His best game came in his last game, where he put together an 11 point, 8 rebound performance. He showed off fancy footwork in the post which created easy scoring opportunities and he also hit several jump shots from just past the foul line. Diagne ran the floor hard and was one of the few players that never coasted during a game.
Josh Jackson, 6’6”, G, Consortium College Prep (MI)
One of the top players in his class, Jackson did not show any fear going against guys one or two years older than him. In three games he averaged 12 points and four rebounds. A legit 6’6”, Jackson used his height to score over defenders in the post and also shoot over them on the wing. He earned high praise for his play in Vegas and carried it over to the weekend in California. Jackson shot just a tad under 50% as he went 16-33 from the field, but is definitely a kid that will have all the major coaches at his games down the road.
Derryck Thornton, 6’0”, PG, Findlay Prep (NV)
Despite his small stature, Thornton controlled games better than almost every other point guard in the tournament. Great ball-handling skills allowed him to find spaces in the defense for open shots or passes to teammates. He scored 9 points a game and had a 4-4 performance in game two. Thornton’s quickness gave him an advantage over most defenders but will need to continue to work on his strength.
Sidy Ndir, 6’3” G, Africa
The athletic guard finished 3rd in the tournament with 16.4 points per game including a 23 point performance in the 3rd place game. Ndir went 3-7 from the three point line in this game, but showcased his speed and quickness throughout the event. In a pool play game, Ndir caught the ball on the left wing and blew by his man and in one dribble finished with a graceful two hand dunk.
Jonah Bolden, 6’8”, F, Australia
Bolden is set to come to the States to suit up for Findlay Prep, but in this tournament he scored 13 points per game and added in seven rebounds in three games for Australia. A long and athletic forward, Bolden displayed his inside / outside game throughout. With his height and length, Bolden was able to score in the post off hooks and short jump shots, but he also stepped outside the paint and went 3-8 from three. On his shots, Bolden had nice rotation and good looking form and will soon enjoy a much heavier dose of attention from recruiters.
While the high school games were going on the college camp counselors were playing against each other in front of a plethora of NBA Scouts. When watching the high school and college games simultaneously it was remarkable at how much stronger the college players were despite some of them being just a year or two removed from their own participation at Adidas Nation’s.
Only two freshmen played in the games, both of them from Kansas in wing Wayne Seldon and center Joel Embiid. The strength of Seldon was remarkable as was the increased skill level of Embiid from just over a year ago. Technically, Seldon could have been playing with the high school kids since just last year he was considered a 2014 recruit. At times Seldon was dominant with the college kids due to his physicality and should provide Coach Bill Self with a nice presence on the wing next year.
Other standout players included Jahii Carson of Arizona State, Russ Smith of Louisville, and Cory Jefferson of Baylor.
JUCO star and future Louisville point guard Chris Jones made an appearance. Despite only standing 5’9”, the future Cardinal is extremely strong and quick and will have no problem adjusting to the college game.
For those fans that wish college basketball was a year-round sport, the College Basketball Newcomers Guide paperback and Kindle book previews the incoming recruits for every team nationally. There’s no need to wait until Fall to learn about the new names in college basketball that will be starring on the hardwood.