By Sean Moran
The USA teams were the class of the Nike Global Challenge with the USA West team handing the USA East their first loss in the championship game on Sunday afternoon. The West team was stocked with talent from Texas and also got some help from Stephen Zimmerman and Dejounte Murray. Throughout the challenge, the four USA teams suffered just one loss to the foreign teams with the USA South falling to China on Day three. Here is a look at some of the top performers from the USA teams in Chicago:
Stephen Zimmerman, 6’11”, C, 2015 & Tyler Davis, 6’10”, C, 2015 – USA West
Back in April before the start of the EYBL season, Zimmerman and Ivan Rabb were supposed to be a fearsome frontcourt duo. That wasn’t necessarily the case and Zimmerman rarely broke double digits in EYBL competition. Playing with Davis and a plethora of outside shooters gave Zimmerman the space he needed to operate down low. With a 17.5 point and 11.5 rebound average, Zimmerman grabbed the MVP of the Challenge and looked more confident and fluid in the process. He did a lot of his work in the paint, whether it was dunks, lay-ups, or short hook shots but he also displayed his outside shooting ability (at times) as well as his passing skills from the high post.
As for his recruitment, Big Zimm will visit North Carolina on October 3rd, Kansas October 10th, the weekend of ‘Late Night at the Phog,’ Kentucky October 17th for ‘Big Blue Madness’, UCLA October 24th and conclude his visits with Arizona on November 7th.
While Zimmerman got the MVP, Tyler Davis was the workhorse down low using his 270 pound frame to his advantage. Before sitting out the championship game, Davis averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds including a 19 point, 14 rebound effort in his last game. Throughout the challenge, Davis ran the floor and banged down low in the post. The majority of his baskets came in the paint on follow-ups or fundamental post moves, but he also stepped outside of the paint and knocked in a few mid range jump shots and delivered several assists to Zimmerman.
Davis also plans a visit to Kansas for Late Night at the Phog and will likely visit Arizona. The rest of his recruitment will be sorted out in the coming weeks when he plans to narrow things down.
Both players noted they enjoyed playing with each other and the chemistry was evident from the opening tip on Wednesday night.
Chris Clarke, USA East, 6’6”, SF, Cape Henry (VA), 2015
Chris Clarke and the words “motor” have been synonymous all summer long and certainly nothing changed in the Challenge. Clarke was all over the floor attacking the basket or hounding opposing players in the full court press. For his efforts, Clarke was named to the All-Tournament team after averaging 16 points per game and shooting 71.8% from the floor (21-38). In addition Clarke also grabbed almost 3.3 offensive rebounds per game. Anytime Clarke got the ball he went straight toward the rim. When China went to a 2-3 zone in the first game, Clarke flashed to the middle, caught the ball in the zone and in one quick movement turned and was at the rim in one dribble. He never seemed to get tired and Clarke never went away from his strengths. Whoever winds up with Chris Clarke will get a difference maker from Day 1 in college.
More USA Notables:
Jalen Brunson, USA Midwest, 6’2”, PG, Stevenson (IL), 2015
Hailing from the Chicago burbs, Brunson looked right at home playing within the city limits. While Brunson is known for his three point stroke in high school play he only shot 23% during EYBL action. Well, in four games at the Challenge Brunson finished 10-15 from behind the arc. He had no trouble with the FIBA distance and hit several tough step backs in addition to NBA three’s. Brunson controlled the game for his Midwest team throughout their third place finish and averaged 14 points and 6.25 assists per game. The class of 2015 is weak at the point guard spot, but over the past two weeks at the CP3 camp and the Nike Global Challenge, Brunson definitively established himself as the top point guard in the class and an impact player at the next level.
Brunson has also set his five official visits and will start with in-state Illinois over Labor Day weekend. The next four weekends Brunson will trip to Villanova, Temple, Michigan State and Purdue consecutively.
Edrice Adebayo, USA East, 6’8”, PF, Northside (NC), 2016
Bam’s offensive game continues to improve. Known as “raw” on the offensive end, Adebayo’s skill-set is starting to catch up to his athleticism. In his second game against Africa, Adebayo jumped out to a quick start with a fast break dunk, reverse lay-up in traffic, and a 12 foot jump shot. He already has a college ready upper body and is quick off his feet. With good form on his free throws and jump shot, Adebayo is starting to get more confidence in his 12-15 foot jumper. He hit several over the three day stretch and did so off a pick and pop or face-up. He led his East team in scoring at 17 points a game and also grabbed 7 rebounds. With continued skill work, it won’t be long before Adebayo rises rapidly up the rankings.
De’Aaron Fox, USA West, 6’4”, PG, Cypress Lake (TX), 2016
The talented USA West team had Zimmerman and Davis down low and a plethora of shooters on the wings, but they also had junior De’Aaron Fox running the show. Fox led the Challenge with 7.25 assists per game and also turned in a strong 3.2 A/TO rate. Fox hit shots when he needed, but for the most part the talented guard was content to push the pace, break down his man off the dribble, and find an open teammate. Fox didn’t make the cut for the USA 17U team, but he did showcase his skills in Colorado Springs and continued to do so in one of the last big time events of the summer.
Dejounte Murray, USA West, 6’5”, SG, Rainier Beach (WA), 2015
Murray was the only representative from the Pacific Northwest, but the future Washington Husky won a few NBA scouts over with his skill set. Murray averaged almost 14 points per game and hit some clutch baskets in a closely contested win over the USA Midwest team. With his length and quickness, Murray got to the rim on the break and usually got by his defender on the wing in the half court set as well. He did turn the ball over too much, but Murray also provided some highlight reel plays in addition to his timely scoring.
Jaylen Brown, USA East, 6’7”, SF, Wheeler (GA), 2015
The USA South team went just 2-2 in the Challenge, but Scout.com’s new number one player in the class of 2015 still played up to the lofty expectations set for him. Using his brute strength and improved mid-range game, Brown averaged 21 points per game and 9.3 rebounds while shooting 48% from the field. He did most of his damage in the paint but showed enough ball-handling skills for all the scouts that wanted to see him in action.
UCLA, Kentucky, Kansas, and Georgia remain the players in Brown’s recruitment.
Playing under FIBA rules, the three point line was set at 22.1 feet compared to a high school arc of 19 feet and 9 inches. To no surprise the USA teams struggled from behind the arc more so than the international teams. With the extended arc, there were still a few players that demonstrated their shooting ability from all areas of the court.
Malachi Richardson, USA East, 6’6”, SF, Trenton Catholic (NJ), 2015
Only five USA players made over seven three’s in the Challenge and the future Syracuse Orangeman was one of them. Richardson finished the week hitting 7-18 good enough for 39%. Richardson went 5-7 in his first game against China and wasn’t really affected by the longer three point line. With his 6’11” wing span, Richardson’s shot is pretty hard to block and he also has a quick release. To go along with his mechanics, Richardson also gets a tremendous amount of backspin on the ball reminiscent to Gilbert Arenas back in his heyday. He averaged 14.5 points for the tournament and while he only made two more three’s after his first game he established himself as one of the top shooters from the USA.
Austin Grandstaff, USA West, 6’3”, SG, Rockwall (TX), 2015
Looking purely at the stats, it was teammate Matt McQuaid that shot better from behind the arc going 7-20 compared to the 8-26 that Grandstaff shot. That being said, Grandstaff makes his way into the top shooters listing for when he made his shots. They usually came at the beginning of games rather than towards the end in blowouts. Grandstaff, an Ohio State commit, made his attempts look easy with a quick flick of the rest and hit several from well beyond the FIBA international line.
Esa Ahmad, 6’7”, SF, Shaker Heights (OH), 2015
The talented wing from Ohio is never flashy in his performance, but he seems to always get the job down. This held true in Chicago with Ahmad averaging 13.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. His field goal attempts through four games went this way: 5-7, 6-8, 3-9, and 8-9. He took advantage of a porous Chinese defense in the third place game with his strong drives to the basket. Ahmad is not going to blow you away with athleticism, but he is strong and just quick enough to consistently get to the rim. He is not a deadly outside shooter, but he went 5-10 from behind the arc. His stock improved over the summer, but Esa Ahmad is still overlooked in the class of 2015 despite his consistent nature.
Deyonta Davis, USA Midwest, 6’8”, PF, Muskegon (MI), 2015
Davis averaged just less than 13 minute a game, but managed to score 8.8 points and grab seven rebounds while shooting a ridiculous 85% from the floor. Davis only attempted 20 field goals, but he converted 17 of them. The jumping jack from Michigan is one of the quickest leapers in the country and cleaned up down low. Coming into the AAU season, Davis did not have much exposure but the future Michigan State Spartan certainly showed that he was worthy of such a high offer.
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