Adidas is getting it done. After locking up James Harden and then grabbing ’14 top pick Andrew Wiggins, the brand snagged over half of the first 7 picks in this year’s Draft. Kris Dunn, Jamal Murray, Brandon Ingram, and Dragan Bender all signed on to rock the three stripes. Last weekend in Spartanburg, South Carolina, we were able to see the next wave.
Concluding the adidas Gauntlet as part of the adidas Uprising campaign, the Gauntlet Finale brought many of the nation’s finest from the adidas umbrella all under one roof to play for keeps. Games were intense, college coaches were everywhere, and media swarmed players after each game to hear about their latest offers. Mass Rivals took home the 17U crown and while they won the ‘chip, every player in attendance was a victor in some regard because of the looks that they got from college coaches.
Here are a few of the top players who caught our eye:
Nick Weatherspoon, 6-2, PG, MBA Hoops, 2017
As far as individual performances were concerned, there wasn’t anyone in South Carolina who touched Nick Weatherspoon. Against Dream Vision, it wasn’t just the 32 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists that he posted. It how he got them. Weatherspoon was electric with his pull-up J, was a truly elite finisher in transition, and put the clamps on people defensively. Ranked around #75 in the nation by most, Weatherspoon is vastly underrated and should be right there in the mix for a McDonald’s All-American selection by the time that it’s all said and done.
Zion Williamson, 6-6, SF, Game Elite, 2018
While there is no denying that Marvin Bagley III is the top prospect in the class of 2018, if you need someone to win you a game today, there may not be anyone better than Zion Williamson. A powerfully built 6-foot-6 forward, Williamson has the ability to overpower most wings and the athleticism to take bigger forwards off the bounce. His ability to play both forward slots made him an absolute man-child for Game Elite, even though he is only 15 years old. As Zion continues to develop his perimeter game, he will assuredly make an even stronger push for top player in the class.
Evan Battey, 6-7, PF, Dream Vision, 2017
While there were a lot of players who were vying for spots in the McDonald’s All-American Game, there may not have been a more unique player than Evan Battey. At 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds, there wasn’t much that he didn’t do on the hardwood for Dream Vision. Battey shot the ball well in pick and pop situations, used his heady play to finish over bigger defenders, and made a number of sick passes as a playmaker from the high post. As Battey continues to get in better shape, expect many new programs to grow the more than a dozen that have already offered this versatile big a scholarship.
Dwayne Cohill, 6-3, PG/SG, Ohio Basketball Club 16’s, 2018
Making the transition over to lead guard, Dwayne Cohill showed college coaches all over the nation what people in the Midwest have known about for quite some time. He was a truly special finisher at the rim with either hand, coming with crazy finishes with either hand that would remind you of Kyrie. The Cleveland native is growing as a playmaker, played intense on the ball D, and provided the leadership that OBC needed to get a couple of big W’s. Already with offers from Ohio State, UNLV, and Xavier, programs such as Michigan State and Stanford picked up their recruitment after the Gauntlet.
Tamenang Choh, 6-6, SF, Mass Rivals, 2017
While Makai Ashton-Langford put up monster numbers, it was the little things that Tanemang Choh did that helped the Mass Rivals to the Gauntlet crown. The versatile forward was his team’s best defender, kept a ton of possessions alive on the offensive glass, and threw down a number of sick dunks. As Choh’s perimeter skill level continues to evolve, expect his recruitment to take off.
Matt Lewis, 6-5, SG, Baltimore Elite, 2017
Arguably the best shooter that we saw all weekend, Matt Lewis was on fire for Baltimore Elite. He has legit size for his position, shot it well on the move or from the catch, and had no problem busting out a pull-up off the bounce when defenders were flying at him. Already owning a handful of D-1 offers, look for the DMV product to keep earning more as the summer goes on.
AJ Green, 6-2, PG, Iowa Barnstormers 16’s, 2018
At the 16U level, there may not have been a better pure point guard than AJ Green. He was outstanding distributing the rock to his scorers, had no problem making passes with either hand off the bounce, and straight up controlled the tempo of the game every time that he was on the hardwood. The son of Northern Iowa assistant Kyle Green, AJ already has big time offers to play for others besides his Pops.
Johnny Juzang, 6-6, SG/SF, Compton Magic 16’s, 2020
Just an eighth grader, Johnny Juzang showed that he cold hold his own with many of the nation’s elite rising juniors in South Carolina. Owning ideal size for his position already, Juzang was tough on the offensive glass and had no problem converting amongst the trees when he got to the rim. Add in a deadly J from beyond the arc and it’s easy to see why Alabama coach Avery Johnson offered him a scholly before entering high school.