adidas Gauntlet: Day One

TAVARES, Fla. -- Adidas' third and final stop of the Gauntlet series was the Big House just outside of Orlando. Action tipped on Friday and Brandon Ingram, Payton Pritchard and Justin Simon were among the top performers.

Ingram shows improvement

Arguably the top performer of the adidas Gauntlet on Friday was 6-foot-8 forward Brandon Ingram.

Playing for Stackhouse Elite, Ingram, a standout at Kinston (N.C.) High, was assertive and effective on the offensive end, scoring 27 points on 9-for-15 shooting in a win over Texas D1 Ambassador.

Ingram hit a pair of threes, plus a couple of other long jumpers, but what stuck out about his game was his aggressiveness off the bounce. He attacked the rim in transition and finished well going towards the rim.

"I've worked on that a lot," Ingram said about attacking the basket. "I'm putting on a little weight and that just builds confidence when I go to the basket. I just feel confident that I can finish over defenders."

"I think I've been playing pretty good," he added. "I'm gaining a lot of confidence and I'm getting to the basket and not just relying on my shot."

Ingram, who is currently ranked No. 40 overall in the 2015 class, told that he would narrow his list of schools to six at the end of June. Among the schools recruiting Ingram are Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Kentucky, Kanas, Florida, Clemson, Virginia Tech, VCU, Wake Forest and N.C. State.

Simon continues to traverse All-American path

Arizona commitment Justin Simon has enjoyed lofty status at for awhile, as he presently ranks No. 16 overall in the Class of 2016. But if his play this spring is any indication — including Friday night —he may be due for another slight rise.

Simon actually didn't play his best on Friday night. He scored a modest 12 points and didn't convert any jump shots, clearly his most nagging deficiency, yet still managed to showcase McDonald's-level ability. A 12-point, seven-rebound, six-assist and three-steal night isn't too shabby in 27 minutes.

He's a smooth and slinky athlete who possesses superb body control and a knack for finishing off the glass. His height and long arms make him a terror to stop in transition, where guards typically are rotating back as a last line of defense. He creates scores and fouls, using his body's angles to position himself for clean looks even after taking contact. Albeit not nearly as explosive, Simon's stride reminds of John Wall and he seems to push tempo without expending much energy.

And that's just the scoring. Simon is a very intelligent and pace-aware guard who finds his teammates and takes it a step further: He actively advances the ball to spots that enable him to facilitate great shots for others. He's a very gifted passer and handler as well, so he deals with pressure adroitly.

He'll need to get stronger and to hone his technique, of course, but he also holds outstanding defensive potential.

As for his jump shot, it's always concerning when a star player passes up so many wide open attempts. Simon stared down the barrel of a zone defense and went out of his way not to shoot threes, something he'll have to address as his career progresses. The flipside is that he gets to the rim so easily and moves the ball with the pass, he can afford to ignore that aspect of his game more than most.

Pritchard a sure thing in 2016

While betting on the upside of point guards with high level athleticism will be a trend that probably never goes out of style, the reality is that there's a certain basketball IQ and skill set that's almost always going to be a prerequisite for success at the position.

Pritchard is a four-star PG in 2016
In the case of 6-foot-1, 175-pound West Linn (Ore.) 2016 point guard Payton Pritchard, who runs AAU with Team FAST, what he lacks in athleticism, he makes up for basketball IQ and skill, to the point where he's a pretty safe bet to be a very successful point guard at the next level.

Between Pritchard's ball skills, vision, pull-up jump shooting ability from both midrange and three, floater and approach to the game, there's a lot to like about the rising junior.

Pritchard has been a known commodity since the beginning of his high school career due to his participation in USA Basketball, but he's still made steady progress as a player, and coaches are taking notice.

He reported new offers from Iowa, Butler and Indiana, to go along with previous offers from Oregon, Oregon State, Wisconsin, Arizona State, Washington and Oklahoma.

Who is recruiting Pritchard the hardest?

"Oregon, Indiana, Butler, Wisconsin and Oklahoma," Pritchard said.

Other Notable Performers

Ahmad Caver, PG, Stackhouse Elite: While Ingram was the top player in Stackhouse Elite's win over Texas D1 Ambassador, Caver, a 6-foot-1 guard, certainly had a good game as well. Caver is a speedster that is tough to keep out of the line. He's a quick twitch athlete and showed a nice crossover from left to right. Caver has good vision and whipped passes with either hand to teammates for baskets. In all, Caver tossed out eight assists to just one turnover. He added 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting.

De'Ron Davis, C, Colorado Hawks: As the Hawks' game against EG10 Red wore on, Davis began to have more of an impact. He didn't get many touches, but when he did he was effective with them scoring on five of six field goal attempts, including one three-pointer. Davis rebounded his area well, but also was actively blocking and contesting shots. Davis' passing from both the block and the high post also stood out on Friday.

Deng Adel, SF, Florida – It wasn't his best outing, as he misfired on a few shots he normally hits, but he was still productive and led Florida Elite in scoring with 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting. Adel, a 6-foot-7 lengthy wing, hit both of his three-point attempts. He also scored a pair of buckets at the rim in transition and connected on a pull-up from 10-feet. Adel is a quality athlete with a lot of upside from the wing.

Dennis Smith, PG, Team Loaded NC: Smith is a really physically gifted point guard that has a very impressive combination of athleticism and skill set for the position. He can get wherever he wants on the court when he wants with his handle, but he's also a terrific passer and is capable of knocking down shots, as evidenced by the 30-footer he hit at the buzzer against Oakland Soldiers to send the game to OT. He's easily one of the top prospects in the 2016 class.

Bennie Boatwright, PF, Gamepoint Elite — This face-up forward wields a dangerous jump shot that rings true to 23 feet. He's confident and very comfortable with his role in the offense, angling for shots in halfcourt and on the break. In addition to a high-arching jumper, he also is a fine passer who surprises defenders charging at him to contest his threes. Boatwright is nearly all finesse, mind you, yet he's also not quick enough laterally to defend opposing wings. He'll need to get stronger and to rebound more consistently, but offensively he's ready to step and contribute to the school of his choice.

Tahjai Teague, PF, EG10 — A 6-5 forward a year ago, Teague — a distant relation to the NBA Teagues — has sprouted to 6-8 and raised his level of play. He has a very long way to go in terms of strength, as he lacks the lower body bulk to hold his position on offense or defense. That said, he's long and has rebounded fairly well this spring on the Adidas circuit. The southpaw also hits some facing jump shots, including at least a couple of threes on Friday night. He also posted up some and scored off the glass. He's nowhere near ready to do set up shop inside against powerhouses, but at least he does possess the instincts. Scouts and college coaches generally consider Teague a lower mid-major, and perhaps that's where he'll stay, but he flashed a little extra on day one.

Evan Daniels, Josh Gershon & Rob Harrington contributed to this report

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