adidas Nations: The Best of the Rest

adidas Nations: The Best of the Rest
Sep 27, 2011, 05:45 pm
Our last round of scouting reports on players at the adidas Nations focuses on some of the top international and American underclassmen in attendance.

Steven Adams, 7-0, Center, Scotts High School, Class of 2012
Committed to Pitt

Jonathan Givony

The clear-cut breakout star of this event, Steven Adams has made some very interesting strides since we first profiled him a year ago in Chicago.

An inch or two taller, and a little more developed physically, Adams is still the same highly fluid and athletic center who runs the court well and shows great mobility for a player his size. He elevates with ease off the floor for blocks and dunks, using his length and huge hands extremely well to challenge shots and finish plays around the rim.

Adams still lacks a great deal in terms of fundamentals on both ends of the floor, a testament to his late start in basketball and the low level of competition he's faced exclusively thus far in his career. He does not possess much of a post-game and is a little bit wild with the way he conducts himself offensively, but shows intriguing sparks of talent from time to time with the things he does.

He likes to put the ball on the floor and can beat opposing big men off the dribble with his quickness and aggressiveness, often finishing well above the rim in impressive fashion. He'll also step out to the perimeter on occasion for jumpers, usually with mixed results, but shows good touch from the line which is an encouraging sign at his size. He also showed unusual passing ability, often making Kevin Love-esqe outlet passes to ignite the fast-break.

The first impression you get from watching Adams play is that he has a limited feel for the game, but some of the passes he made suggest otherwise.

Defensively, Adams is both impressive to watch and a work in progress at the same time. On one hand he does a great job challenging shots around the rim with his size, length and terrific athleticism, showing nimble feet and good timing. He plays with a real chip on his shoulder, not backing down from anyone, and not being afraid to dish out a hard foul or offer up some choice words to an opponent.

On the other hand, he clearly has no concept of how to play fundamentally sound half-court defense, giving up deep position without any fight, and showing a very limited understanding of help-side defense. He doesn't really know how to use his body inside, does not box out his opponents, and is too quick to chase blocks wildly.

The wide open, loosely coached setting of the adidas Nations played perfectly into Adams' rare strengths as a prospect, and he generated a tremendous amount of buzz in return with his play. Right now his plan appears to be heading to Pittsburgh to play for Jamie Dixon in 2012. If he gets eligible, there will surely be some initial growing pains as he adjusts to the completely new style of play that he'll encounter in the Big East.

Adams is still very much playing catch-up with other players his age in regards to his fundamentals and knowledge of the game, but his ceiling as a prospect is obviously off the charts. It will be very interesting to see how he performs when he finally does come over.

Ricardo Gathers, 6-7, PF/C, Riverside Academy, 2012
Committed to St. John's

Jonathan Givony

A physically developed, undersized big man, Ricardo Gathers (#34 Scout, #37 Rivals, #30 ESPN) is a skilled and aggressive offensive player who dominates at this level of competition with his terrific combination of strength and versatility.

Standing somewhere around 6-7, with a frame reminiscent of an NFL linebacker, Gathers has excellent length and good athleticism. He can score from pretty much anywhere on the floor, be it posting up, handling the ball in transition, creating off one or two dribbles from the perimeter, or knocking down mid-range jumpers. He's able to get things done in a very impressive manner thanks to his skill-level and tremendous motor, and also competes admirably defensively and on the glass, making him exactly the type of big man a college coach would love to have.

Gathers is a couple of inches undersized for a prototypical power forward, which is why recruiting analysts don't seem to be unanimously in love with him—he's only ranked in the 30-40 range at the moment. There are plenty of players his size in the NBA, though, so that obviously wouldn't automatically rule him out.

If Gathers can show that he can continue to dominate other players his age as he makes the transition to the college level, he probably won't stay at St. John's for very long.

Andrew Harrison, 6-5, Point Guard, Travis High School, 2013

Jonathan Givony

One of the most talented players seen at the adidas Nations regardless of class, there is very little doubt that we'll be writing plenty more about Andrew Harrison (#4 Scout, #1 Rivals, #4 ESPN) in the years to come.

A 6-5 point guard in the Tyreke Evans mold, Harrison has terrific size and strength for his position, and is an extremely fluid and shifty athlete.

First and foremost an outstanding slasher, Harrison has a knack for getting to the basket almost whenever he pleases. He has a great first step and terrific timing on his drives, utilizing crossovers, change of speeds and simply overpowering opponents with his strength, allowing him to make a living at the free throw line. Once at the basket, he finishes with either hand, often through contact, and will at times go up and finish above the rim impressively, even if he's not what you'd call an incredibly explosive leaper.

Not quite as much of a sharpshooter as his twin brother Aaron, Andrew can nevertheless make shots with his feet set or off the dribble, particularly in the mid-range area.

Also capable of finding the open man, Harrison has good court vision and is willing to hit the open man, leading you to believe that his future is indeed at the point despite the fact that in terms of size, he'd have no problem operating as a shooting guard. With that said, at times he does have a tendency to pound the ball a bit and stop the flow of the offense, so continuing to expand his knowledge of the game and improve his decision making will help him as he gets older and the competition stiffens.

Showing just average intensity on the defensive end, Harrison has the physical tools to be very effective on this end of the floor, something that will likely be emphasized more at the college level.

While obviously still very early in his career, there's a lot to be excited about in regards to Harrison's future. If he continues to work on his game and manages to stay humble with all the attention that will inevitably come his way, he has a chance to develop into a special prospect.

Aaron Harrison, 6-4, Shooting Guard, Travis High School, 2013

Jonathan Givony

The slightly lesser acclaimed of the highly touted twins, Aaron Harrison (#7 Scout, #7 Rivals, #7 ESPN) is more of a wing player than his brother, but is an intriguing prospect in his own right.

Standing around 6-5, with an incredibly well-developed frame for a 16-year old, Harrison impresses more with his maturity and skill-level than with overwhelming explosiveness.

Capable of catching fire and unleashing a barrage of 3-pointers, Harrison has an excellent shooting stroke both with his feet set and off the dribble. Also capable of making plays off the dribble, Harrison uses crafty change of speeds, often overpowering opponents with sheer strength. Still an improvable ball-handler, Harrison will need to continue to add polish to his repertoire and learn the nuances of scoring and defending in the half-court to maintain his status as one of the best wing players in his class long-term.

Chris Walker, 6-9, PF/C, Holmes County HS, 2013

Jonathan Givony

A long, wiry jumping jack big man with a frame that should fill out, Chris Walker (#6 Scout, #8 Rivals, #5 ESPN) is the type of ultra-athletic 4/5 every team likes to have in their rotation.

Still mostly a work in progress from a skills standpoint, Walker gets most of his production in transition, crashing the offensive glass tenaciously and finishing whatever plays are created for him around the rim by teammates. His terrific wingspan, quickness and activity level allow him to get his hands on virtually every ball in and around his area, and that combined with his solid timing make him a highly effective rebounder and shot-blocker at this level.

Not showing much of a post-game and struggling badly to convert free throws, Walker's offensive polish and all-around feel for the game is still in need of refinement, which is probably not a shock considering his age. Defensively, his fundamentals are average at best, as he doesn't always get in a stance, allowing opponents to get deep position on him and thinking he'll simply be able to out-jump them when trying to challenge their shot.

At this early stage of Walker's career, it's not difficult to see what the recruiting services are so excited about considering the physical tools and upside he displays. Moving forward, it will be important for the Floridian to continue to work on improving his skill-level and basketball IQ, though, as his athleticism can only take him so far.

Solomon Poole, 6-0, PG/SG, Terry Parker High School, 2013

Jonathan Givony

One of the most impressive scorers seen at the adidas Nations, Solomon Poole (#28 Scout, #9 Rivals, #22 ESPN) is an undersized combo guard with terrific athleticism. Showing a quick first step, great speed in the open court and the ability to rise up and finish plays well above the rim in traffic, Poole has a major wow factor to his game.

More than just an athlete, Poole is also a versatile scorer who can put the ball in the rim in a variety of different ways. A terror in transition and a capable shot-creator off the dribble in the half-court, Poole gets to the basket effectively where he finishes with floaters and little pull-ups in the lane. He can make shots with range out past the 3-point line, both with his feet set and especially off the dribble, showing no hesitation at all rising up and firing away regardless of the situation.

More of a combo guard than a real facilitator, Poole is a bit wild at times with his decision making, showing limited court vision. This is a pretty significant knock considering that he's already undersized for a point guard, and is something he'll likely need to address.

Defensively, Poole can be an absolute pest with his quickness and ability to put pressure on opponents, and in turn comes up with plenty of loose balls in the passing lanes. He's a bit undersized regardless of which guard position he's defending, though, so maximizing his intensity on this end of the floor will likely be key for him.

Emmanuel Mudiay, 6-3, Point Guard, Grace Preparatory Academy, 2014

Jonathan Givony

One of the youngest players in attendance at this event, Emmanuel Mudiay (#5 Scout, #3 Rivals, #7 ESPN) nevertheless showed off intriguing physical tools and talent and is clearly a prospect to follow over the next few years.

Born in the Congo, Mudiay has excellent size at 6-3 or 6-4, with a long wingspan and a strong, well-developed frame. He's a very good athlete who excels primarily in transition right now thanks to his terrific speed. He has the tools to develop into an outstanding defender down the road, even if he has not yet figured out how to translate his athleticism to that end of the floor.

Despite his size and youth, Mudiay shows good instincts as a playmaker, looking willing to make the extra pass and throwing some very nice drive and dish passes to set up his teammates over the course of the week. He's a little careless with the ball and still needs to learn how to play at different speeds and improve his advanced ball-handling skills, but that's to be expected considering his age. His jumper also looks to be quite streaky at the moment.

Athletic guards in Mudiay's mold (think Iman Shumpert) who have the physical tools to defend both backcourt positions are all the rage these days, so it will be interesting to see how he develops his skill-level over the next few years.

Thomas Hamilton, 6-9, Power Forward, Whitney Young, 2013

Jonathan Givony

A 6-9 big man with underwhelming athleticism but an exceptionally high skill-level for his age, Tommy Hamilton (#26 Scout, #30 Rivals, #23 ESPN) is the son of 7-2 former NBA player Thomas Hamilton Sr.

Still nowhere near his full physical potential due to his poor conditioning-level, Hamilton shows a great deal of offensive polish. He can handle the ball reasonably well, shoot mid-range jumpers smoothly, and is an absolute load inside the paint with his soft hands, nimble footwork and strong frame.

Defensively, he has plenty of room for improvement, as he isn't much of a rebounding or shot-blocking presence due to his average explosiveness, and struggles stepping outside of the paint.

College coaches will be lining up around the block to recruit Hamilton, but he'll have to maximize his physical potential to show that he's serious about playing at the next level.

Jordan Mickey, 6-8, PF/C, Richardson, 2013

Jonathan Givony

Still obviously in a very early stage of his development, Jordan Mickey (#66 Scout, #75 Rivals, Unranked ESPN) made a good impression at the adidas Nations, showing off his strong physical tools and activity level. A bit undersized at around 6-8, Mickey has extremely long arms, big hands and terrific athleticism, which gives him some nice tools to grow into down the road.

Fairly limited offensively, Mickey did a good job running the floor, crashing the offensive glass and making simple plays around the paint. He shows an average skill-level and basketball IQ, sometimes trying to do too much at times and not really knowing his limitations.

Defensively, Mickey impressed with the timing he displayed as a shot-blocker, rotating over frequently and being quite a presence around the basket with his length and explosiveness. He did a lot of dirty work for his team inside the paint and didn't seem to show any qualms in doing it.

Obviously a ways away from putting everything together, Mickey is a prospect who is sure to draw the interest of high-major schools thanks to his rare physical tools, despite the fact that he's not considered more than a borderline top-100 player at this point according to the recruiting services.

Yinglun Shao, 6-8, SF/PF, Guangdong, 1994

Jonathan Givony

An interesting find on this Asian roster, Yinglun Shao had some good moments at this camp and definitely looked like he belonged from a talent perspective.

A 6-8 forward stuck somewhat between the 3 and 4, Yinglun is a good athlete with a nice frame, some length and a versatile all-around game.

He attacks opponents from the perimeter with a strong first step, showing nice ball-handling skills, good body control in the lane and an aggressive mentality getting to the free throw line. His shooting range is limited to around 17 feet right now, as he features a long, deliberate release that he must continue to polish if he's to take the next step as a basketball player.

What separated Yinglun from other Chinese players we've seen at this event in previous years is the toughness and assertiveness he shows at a young age. He wasn't shy at all about making his presence felt, and looked willing to attack the glass and grab rebounds. Defensively he's a bit limited at the moment, standing somewhat upright in his stance and struggling to stay in front of quicker players on the perimeter, something he'll have to work on if he's to develop into a full-time small forward like his body type indicates he should be looking to do heading forward.

Han Delong, 6-5, PG/SG, Bayi, ?

Jonathan Givony

Forced to shoulder major minutes at the point on a team sorely lacking primary ball-handlers, 6-5 Han Delong did a nice job showing off his talent in a featured role. A smooth, quick guard with nice length but a very skinny frame, Han will have good tools for his position if his body fills out over the next few years.

A solid ball-handler, passer and slasher, he does a good job creating offense for both himself and his teammates in the half-court. He's got a nice demeanor and a good feel for the game, seeing the court well and not looking as out of control as many players his age often do. Unfortunately he's not much of a perimeter shooter at this stage, something he'll need to work on to reach his potential down the road.

Defensively is where Delong struggled the most at this event due to his skinny frame and poor fundamentals. He looked very upright in his stance trying to stay in front of quicker players.

Considering the lack of talent China has suffered from over the last few years at the guard positions, they'd do well to develop Delong in the future.

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