The Top Ten Performers at the 2016 adidas Nations College Games
by: Julian Applebome
August 6, 2016
This is a list of the top ten College performers from the 2016 Adidas Nations, which concluded on August 1st in Los Angeles. The rankings are based on the statistic EWA (estimated wins added). Although EWA does not definitively determine who the best individual players were, it does give you a sense of how productive and valuable they were to their respective teams. EWA is built off the same formula as PER, but it differs in the fact that it takes into account minutes played.
The following article goes into further detail regarding EWA and how it relates to other advanced statistics. Keep in mind that EWA is essentially PER times minutes played, which favors those players that went further in the tournament and played more minutes and games. Had we looked strictly at PER, Chattanooga's Justin Tuoyo (22.3 PER but only three games played) would have replacd Kansas' Frank Mason (19.6 PER in five games).
Deng Adel went through an up and down freshmen year at the University of Louisville under Rick Pitino, but he finished on a strong note and looked like he carried that momentum over into the Adidas Nations. His first season of college basketball was plagued by inconsistency and a minor knee (sprained MCL) injury, but towards the end of the year he earned some starts and put together one of his best performances of the year on the biggest stage, going head to head with Duke and Brandon Ingram in a Cardinals victory. In Los Angeles, Adel looked like a player who was building on that success, as he played with a sense of confidence, finishing third in points per game at 11.8 and tied for fourth in rebounds (5.8).
At 6'7 with a 6'9.5 wingspan Adel has a very solid frame that should continue to fill out with time. At this point in his career he is stuck between the small and power forward positions, something he will probably be able to get away with at the college level, but might become more of a problem as he gets to the pro game. He doesn't really excel in any one aspect, but finds various ways to contribute on both ends of the floor. He is not the quickest or most explosive guy, but he has a strong first step, and showed he can get to the rim on aggressive straight line takes. Adel plays with good energy, which is evidenced by the impact he has on the game both on the boards and in transition.
Last season with Louisville he proved he was a capable outside shooter in a small sample size, hitting 7 of his 20 attempts. He didn't showcase that aspect of his game in L.A. (0-3 3P) but did make some fluid mid-range moves out of the post and hit 72% of his free throw attempts. NBA scouts will also want to see him improve his passing ability, something he hasn't shown at this stage, but he was able to cut down on his turnovers after posting a sky-high 25% TO% last season. Given his length and mobility he has real potential to have an impact on the defensive end of the floor. He can cover ground from the paint to perimeter with ease, and can be a factor as a rim protector.
Adel has the physical tools to be an impactful college player, something that will earn him some NBA looks. He still has a great deal of room for growth, as he learns how to play the game under control, and at a high level consistently. His sophomore season at Louisville will be worth monitoring closely, to see if he develops his perimeter skill-set, polish and feel for the game.Interview from Adidas Nations
#2) Chase Jeter, 6'10, Center, 18.8 years old, United States, Duke
Chase Jeter came into Duke last season as one of the most highly recruited players in the country (#11 RSCI), but struggled to earn playing time even with his team severely lacking front-court depth, battling foul trouble and confidence issues virtually every time he stepped on the floor. Jeter will have another opportunity to showcase his skills as he heads into his sophomore season but now has to deal with a number of highly recruited freshmen such as Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as the return of Amile Jefferson. The Adidas Nations was a good format for Jeter perform without having to worry about foul trouble or playing time, and the lack of high-level big men gave him a nice opportunity to gain confidence in this setting.
At 6'10 and just 18 years old, Jeter already has the size of an NBA big, which he used to control the glass at the Adidas Nations, finishing second in rebounds per game at 6.8, an area that was always a strong point of his at the high school level. On the offensive end of the floor he is able to contribute in variety of ways, but looked comfortable in Los Angeles screening and diving hard to the rim, a skill that will definitely benefit him once he gets to the pro level.
He is a fluid athlete who looks smooth running the floor and finishing above the rim in space, and has some limited ball handling abilities which he has shown he can use in a pinch in the face up game. He has already showed some nice footwork in his back to the basket game as well as the ability to finish with either hand, but can often get away with using his size and length to work his way to the rim.
He'll have to learn how to recognize double teams and pass out of the post, as at times he looked somewhat rushed looking for his own offense. Defensively, while he can definitely be a factor on the glass, he also some potential as a rim protector given his size, mobility and big standing reach. He seems to have a good grasp of help defense, but could stand do get stronger and tougher so he can deal with some more physical players on the block.
Despite a disappointing freshman season, it appears its too early to give up on Jeter given his age, size, rebounding prowess and budding skill set, and it will be interesting to see where he gets his chances with what appears to be a loaded Duke roster next season. Against decent competition at the Adidas Nations, he showed he is capable of being productive, and it is likely only a matter of time before he gets that opportunity on the college level.
#3) Cameron Oliver, 6'8, Power Forward, 20.0 years old, United States, Nevada
Sacramento native Cameron Oliver was one of the breakout performers at the Adidas Nations. After an impressive freshman season in which he led the University of Nevada to a CBI title, Oliver had originally put his name into the NBA draft, but then decided to withdraw, adding a huge boost to Eric Musselman's rising Wolf Pack squad. Oliver's strong freshman year earned him Mountain West Freshman of the Year and Mountain West All-Defensive Team honors.
Oliver has a strong frame and the physical tools to make up for any shortcomings he has in terms of height at 6'8. What stands out most about Oliver is his dynamic athletic ability. He is an explosive leaper, who doesn't need much time or space to load up, as evidenced by some impressive above the rim finishes he had on tip dunks and in traffic. He has solid form on his jumper, and although he only shot 31% on 60 attempts from deep last season, he looked comfortable shooting it in L.A. in both catch and shoot and pick and pop situations, knocking down five of his 10 attempts. He has a bit of a dip in his stroke, where he likes to bring the ball down low before rising up, something he'll have to adjust against more length and athleticism.
He also showed the ability to score out of the post, showcasing some quick footwork and nice spin moves which he used to take guys off the dribble and beat them to the rim, or get to his spots for some mid-range jumpers. He really has a chance to have an impact on the defensive end of the floor given his athletic ability, which he uses well to control the glass, and get steals and blocks. He led the Mountain West in blocks per game last season at 2.4, impressive for a guy who stands just 6'8.
Given his physical tools, Oliver has a chance to earn much stronger interest from NBA teams in the near future if he can put together another productive season. At times the games looks a little too fast for him, and he can tend to rely on his athletic ability rather than his intangibles, and get caught gambling on the defensive end of the floor. It remains to be seen if he can continues to shoot it consistently from beyond the arc, a skill that will carry him a long way at the next level. Oliver was arguably the biggest breakout performers at the adidas Nations, and will certainly be monitored closely next season by NBA scouts.Interview from Adidas Nations
#4) Devonte Graham, 6'2, Point Guard, 21.4 years old, United States, Kansas
Devonte Graham was a key member of a Kansas team that fell short of its Final Four aspirations last season. He'll return this season for his Junior year, with two years of valuable experience under his belt. He finished on a strong note last season earning Big 12 Tournament MVP to go along with Big 12 First Team All-Defense, and he carried that strong play over into the Adidas Nations where he put together a very well rounded performance, impacting the game on both ends of the floor.
Playing alongside backcourt mate Frank Mason last season, Graham spent time both on and off the ball, but projects more as a point guard at the next level given his size. With that said, his size and shooting ability gives him the ability to play off the ball as well, especially considered how tenaciously he defends.
Graham has a smooth catch and shoot stroke, and shot it an impressive clip last season, hitting 43.6% on 4.5 attempts per game. While he has shown consistency in catch and shoot situations, he also has proven to be an effective playmaker with the ball in his hands. He's a willing passer who shows some good pace playing out of the pick and roll or spreading it out in transition. He has an extra gear he can get to which many collegiate guards simply don't possess, which he uses to take guys off the dribble and get into the lane, or create space for mid-range jumpers which he is more than capable of knocking down.
A very strong athlete, Graham is quick and fluid and can finish creatively around the rim with floaters and other touch shots on the go. Defensively he really flies around and competes, getting his hands on loose balls and getting into passing lanes. He is not afraid to get into ball handlers, and even blocked some shots in LA. Graham has the chance to be a real influence on that end of the floor with his pesky play.
Graham already is 21 years old, but given his age and experience he'll be one of the more impactful players on Kansas' roster next season. He has quite a bit of professional upside given his ability to influence the game in various ways, as a defender, as a shooter, and as a creator. It wouldn't be surprising for if Graham is able to take the next step as a prospect this season at Kansas, as many teams are looking for athletic guards in his mold who can hold their own on both ends of the floor.Interview from Adidas Nations
#5) Shannon Evans, 6'1, Point Guard, 22.0 years old, United States, Arizona St
When Bobby Hurley made the move from the University of Buffalo to Arizona St, Shannon Evans followed him. The 22-year-old Junior Point Guard played two seasons under Hurley at Buffalo before sitting out last season while making the transfer to the Pac-12. Evans had a successful stint at Buffalo, helping lead his team to a MAC Championship in 2015 before making the move to the high major conference where he will surely get more looks from NBA personnel.
What impressed most about Evans in Los Angeles was how he shot the ball from beyond the arc. While the form on his jump shot is a little questionable given his slow push release, it's hard to argue with the results he posted from deep at the Adidas Nations, hitting 8 of his 17 attempts from 3, many of them off the dribble when defenders tried to duck under ball screens. He has the quickness off the bounce to get by his defenders and effect the game in transition, but will resort to finishing with floaters and runners, as he doesn't really have the strength yet to finish consistently in traffic.
While his assist numbers have been fairly high over his college career, so have his turnovers. He's a capable point guard and playmaker, but has the tendency to overplay at times, and can get himself caught in difficult situations which leads to forced passes. At just 160 pounds he has a slight frame, and can be taken out of his rhythm with physical defensive play. Despite his lack of size, Evans is a competitor on the defensive end of the floor. He's got great lateral quickness and excellent instincts which he uses well in navigating ball screens and staying in front of dribble drives.
Evans has a big season ahead of him at Arizona State as he makes a big jump in competition level from the MAC to the Pac 12. He'll have the comfort level and foundation of playing for his former coach, but he'll need to show that he can put together all his tools on a consistent basis against strong competition night in and night out. At 22 years old it's hard to say how much professional potential Evans has in front of him, but he definitely has the opportunity to be an impactful player next season at the college level.
#6) Frank Mason, 5'11, Point Guard, 22.3 years old, United States, Kansas
Senior point guard Frank Mason will return to Kansas next season for his final year of College Basketball. Mason has been a rock for Coach Bill Self over the last 2 seasons, starting 72 of his last 73 games over the course of his sophomore and junior years. Mason will return with Devonte Graham to form one of the toughest and most experienced backcourts in the country, and to give himself one last shot at a Final Four.
At just 5'11, Mason is short in stature, but he compensates for that with toughness, athleticism and strength. He's 185 pounds and despite his stocky frame, he is extremely quick with the ball in his hands, showing the ability to take his man off the bounce with a variety of dribble moves which he can use to create space. He is a blur in transition, and although he might not look like it on first glance, he is an extremely explosive leaper who can go up and catch lobs above the rim.
While at times he can struggle finishing around the rim due to his size, that doesn't stop him from trying to get there, and he'll use his body effectively to try to create space or draw contact. He is a scoring guard at nature, but still very much a capable point guard. He's a high IQ guy who will look to make the extra pass, and can make some nice plays out of ball screens or dribble drives. He has some catch and shoot ability, but his percentages fell off last season going from 43% to 38% on 3 attempts per game. He has some limitations on the defensive end of the floor given his size and lack of length, but that doesn't take away from how hard he competes. He is not afraid to get into ball handlers and play physical defense, as he demonstrated with one impressive chase down block in Los Angeles.
Where Mason's career goes after his senior season at Kansas is very much up in the air. He is a tough College Point Guard who will be the leader of a deep Kansas team next season, but he lacks size and hasn't been overly prolific or efficient as a scorer. Mason won some scouts over in LA and is certain to get some long looks from NBA teams when his career is up. He is a tough, strong competitor who has been a major piece for Bill Self and a very successful, winning program over the last two seasons, and will absolutely have a long professional career wherever he ends up.
#7) Jaylen Adams, 6'2, Point Guard, 20.2 years old, United States, St. Bonaventure
Jaylen Adams, the junior guard out of St. Bonaventure, put together a solid showing at the Adidas Nations, leading the tournaments in assists per game at 3.4 and finishing second in steals at 2.4. Adams is coming off an impressive sophomore season in which he finished eighth in the A-10 in scoring, and 2nd in assists.
At 6'2, 185 pounds Adams has good size for the Point Guard position. He showed some adeptness playing out of the pick and roll, looking comfortable making the pocket pass, or stringing the defense out and making patient decisions. He is not the quickest guy, but he uses his size well to get into the paint and make drive and kick plays, or look for contact around the rim. He'll look to make the extra pass, and did a good job making the kick ahead pass in transition. He has some catch and shoot ability as he hit 43% last season on 6.4 attempts per game, but his release is slow and flat footed, especially on his dribble jumper. He is capable of hitting some tough shots, but he'll have to make some adjustments on his release when he is consistently playing against more length and athletic ability outside of the A-10. Adams uses his size well on the defensive end of the floor, getting into the ball and forcing ball handlers to make tough decisions.
The Adidas Nations was a new setting for Adams, and that showed at times. In stretches he looked passive and uncomfortable against the competition, and at times he drifted into taking some bad shots, as evidenced by his poor field goal percentage. He has shown what he is capable of at the A-10 level, but he is going to need to show that he can perform at that same high level consistently against more advanced competition, as he sets his sights on the pro game. Adams is not the most athletic guard you'll find, but this was a good experience for him and one that will likely help him going into his junior season.Interview from Adidas Nations
#8) Jaron Blossomgame, 6'7, Small Forward, 22.8 years old, United States, Clemson
Jaron Blossomgame was one of the more intriguing prospects at the Adidas Nations, just days after having another strong showing at the Nike Basketball Academy. He is just a couple months removed an impressive showing at the NBA Combine, where he later opted to withdraw his name from the NBA Draft and return to Clemson for his senior season. Blossomgame projected as a likely second round pick, but will have a chance to build on his All ACC First Team season, and potentially improve his stock for next years' draft.
Blossomgame looks the part of a NBA combo forward, as at 6'7, 214 with a strong frame and excellent athletic ability, he won't have any issues holding his own physically. He plays with a great motor, and knows how to utilize his physical tools, flying in on the offensive glass, running the floor hard in transition, cutting actively off the ball, and bullying his way to the rim out of the post. He shot the ball very well from deep last season, hitting 44% on 3.3 attempts per game, but he has a bit of a low release and shoots it from his chest, something he may need to adjust down the line. He can handle it in a pinch, and is capable on aggressive straight line drives to the rim, but could definitely benefit from a more advanced handle, as he looks to make the transition to more of a small forward at the NBA level. He has not really shown yet that he is a playmaker for others, and can force some passes on drives to the rim.
Given his physical tools he has, Blossomgame can impact the game on the defensive end, especially with his ability to guard multiple positions. He's long, strong, tough, and quick laterally which allows him to guard quicker guys on the perimeter and bigger guys on the block. At times he can get overaggressive on the defensive end, something that should be adjusted with solid coaching over time.
Blossomgame very well could have been taken in this year's draft, and spent most of the season on the bench or in the D-League, but he opted to return to Clemson for his senior season. He'll be the leader of an improved Clemson team, where he will have the chance to build on last season and this summer's success. NBA teams are actively looking for multi-positional forwards in his mold these days, and he has the physical tools, perimeter shooting, defensive prowess and overall versatility to fill that role down the line.Interview from Adidas Nations
#9) Thomas Bryant, 6'10, Center, 19.0 years old, United States, Indiana
Now heading into his sophomore season at Indiana, Bryant very well could have been a first round NBA draft pick but opted to return to college for another year to improve his standing and readiness for the pro game.
Bryant plays with a sense of energy and effort that is unique for a player his size. He is still very much developing in terms of his skill level, but he makes up for it with his motor and team spirit. He is constantly looking to make plays on the offensive glass, and although he is not the quickest or most athletic jumper, he uses his size and length to finish effectively around the basket. He is not the most fluid athlete, but he'll dive hard to the rim on pick and rolls and rim run in transition, a way for him to find easy offense. He has shown flashes of potential with his jump-shot, but his form is not consistent as shown on some bad misses. He has some potential as a rim protector given his size and length, but averaged under a block last season in 35 games at Indiana, and often found himself in foul trouble. He lacks a certain degree of mobility and lateral quickness which is evident in his struggles at guarding ball screens on the perimeter. He often stands very straight up and down, and has a hard time bending his knees and defending dribble penetration.
At barely 19 years old, some of Bryant's potential is rooted in his age and his size. Standing 6'10, 241 pounds, with a 7'5 wingspan, Bryant already has the length and body of an NBA big man.
Bryant turned in a very impressive freshmen season at Indiana, scoring 12 points per game while shooting nearly 70% from the field, but he is still very raw and the speed and quickness of the game sometimes looked like it overwhelmed him at the Adidas Nations. He likely made a smart decision in returning to college for his sophomore year, given that he really doesn't yet have the skill set to contribute at the NBA level. He'll have the opportunity this season, under great coaching, to develop his game so he is more ready to play consistently at the next level.
#10) Dennis Smith, 6'2, Point Guard, 18.6 years old, United States, N.C. State
Although ranked tenth on this list, Dennis Smith was one of the top names to watch at last week's Adidas Nations. One year removed from a torn ACL at last years Adidas Nations, Smith looked back in full force, and put his name back in the conversation as one of the potential top picks in next years draft if he chooses to go that direction. Smith enrolled at N.C. State last season, but has yet to play a game at the college level, and will likely be given the keys to Mark Gottfried's offense this season. Interview and Highlights from Adidas Nations Wearing no brace, and showing no ill effects from last years' injury, Smith controlled the game from the point guard position, using his quickness and ball handling ability to take guys off the dribble and get to the rim with ease. Smith has explosive athletic ability, and is phenomenal in transition with change of speeds and direction, but also showed the ability to get aggressively down hill out of ball screens and finish above the rim, or creatively in traffic.
He has real playmaking skills as well, and when he is not looking to attack and get into the paint, he can play patiently out of the pick and roll or hit the quick pocket pass. His jump shot remains a work in progress, which is typical for an 18-year-old point guard. He is capable of hitting the one or two dribble pull up, but his mechanics are inconsistent, something that is definitely fixable over time. As dynamic as Smith is on the offensive end of the floor, he looked equally competitive on the defensive end of the floor. He moves well laterally, and gets tons of steals with his quick hands and ability to get into the passing lanes. He led the tournament in steals at 3.3 per game.
Smith has all the makings of a one and done NBA prospect if he can continue to come back from his injury at full health. He only played 3 out of his teams 5 games at the Adidas Nations, a precautionary measure as he prepares himself for next season. He looked winded at times, and will have to get his legs underneath him after such a long absence away from the game. If Smith can stay healthy, show development on his jump shot, and play the point guard position at a consistent level, he already has the size, athletic ability and skill-level NBA teams look for in a starting point guard.
Physicals Height: 6' 2" Weight: 185 lbs. Birthday: 05/04/1996 20 Years Old Teams: High School: Mount Saint Joseph HS Current Team: St. Bonaventure , Junior Positions: Current: PG, NBA: PG, Possible: PG Quick Stats: 20.6 Pts, 3.7 Rebs, 6.5 Asts