Notebook: Elite 24 rising in stature

In our weekly Notebook feature, the national team explores creative and broad topics from the grassroots hoops realm.

Under Armour loads up for Elite 24

Elite 24 is becoming one of the premier all-star events in high school basketball.

Under Armour’s showcase is loaded with talent, as 20 of the participants are ranked as five-star prospects in’s rankings, and the top six players in the 2016 rankings are planning to play in the game.

The headliners for the event include Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Malik Newman, Chase Jeter, Stephen Zimmerman, Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles, Thon Maker, Josh Jackson and Malik Monk.

The activities begin on Thursday with a practice and on Friday they’ll have a Dunk, Skills and Three-Point contest. The game will be played at Pier 2 of the Brooklyn Bridge Park. The game gets underway at 7:00 ET and will be televised on ESPNU.

2015 Participants
Jaylen Brown – No. 1
Ivan Rabb – No. 5
Cheick Diallo – No. 7
Chase Jeter – No. 9
Malik Newman – No. 10
Stephen Zimmerman – No. 14
Donovan Mitchell – No. 20
Antonio Blakeney – No. 21
Jawun Evans – No. 23
Brandon Ingram – No. 25
Thomas Bryant – No. 30
Derrick Jones – No. 65
Bryant Crawford – No. 82

2016 Participants
Jayson Tatum – No. 1
Harry Giles – No. 2
Josh Jackson – No. 3
Thon Maker – No. 4
Malik Monk – No. 5
Dennis Smith – No. 6
Tyus Battle – No. 12
Terrance Ferguson – No. 15
Mustapha Heron – No. 16

2017 Participants
Troy Brown – No. 2
Jalek Felton – No. 12

— Evan Daniels

Another Canadian Emerging

Not much was expected new from the Nike Global Challenge. Outside of the prospects from China and Brazil, there seemingly wasn't going to be any real revelations since nearly every kid on Africa, Canada, and the United States teams had been scouted heavily. However one prospect did emerge in a big way and that was Jalen Poyser, who first blossomed nationally at July's Lawson/Oladipo Camp.

At the event Poyser was quite simply one of the best players. He made shots, got to the rim, showed solid athleticism, and simply was very impressive overall. He went against higher rated guys almost every game, and every time he either got the best of them or held his own.

Recruiting wise Poyser has heard quite a bit from California, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Idaho, Michigan, Michigan State, Wake Forest, and Syracuse with the Golden Bears, Sooners, and Warriors of Hawaii showing the most interest to date.

If Poyser waits until the spring he could become one of the hottest commodities given his ability and the fact that he will be one of the few very talented prospects remaining. That said a decision could come at any time, and schools are definitely pushing for his commitment.

— Brian Snow

UCLA adding rugged backcourt in 2015

While UCLA had a successful season in 2013-14, the strength of the team was in its offensive prowess. The Bruins were one of the highest scoring teams in the country, but defensively weren't quite at that same level.

Whether there was a philosophical change or not, UCLA landed two players in 2015 who should help change that.

UCLA started its 2015 recruiting class with a commitment from Aaron Holiday, a 6-foot, 175-pound point guard from North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall. Holiday is a terrific on the ball defender due to his toughness, strength and high level lateral quickness. Holiday is also a slasher with very good body control that has improved his scoring ability outside of driving, with an improved floater and jumper.

On Sunday, the Bruins added a player that is cut from the same cloth. Prince Ali, a 6-foot-4, 185-pound shooting guard from Weston (Fla.) Sagemont Upper School, has that same mental makeup and competitive approach, while he is also a big time slasher who is getting much better as a shooter.

Holiday and Ali give the Bruins an athletic duo that should give opponents nightmares on the perimeter. They both have areas to work on - Holiday has to keep developing as a point guard and Ali will want to keep improving his perimeter shot - but the two of them together have the potential to eventually give the Bruins one of the most competitive and best defensive backcourts in the country.

— Josh Gershon

SEC making gains

The Southeastern Conference has become imbalanced in recent seasons, with Kentucky and Florida completely dominating the action. Either the Wildcats or Gators has won the league's regular season title for the past five seasons.

Well, that trend likely will continue in 2014-15, as Kentucky generally is considered the nation's best team, but at least there has been some positive recruiting news for the conference's other members.

Arkansas scored huge on Tuesday, getting a critical commitment from top-60 scoring guard Jimmy Whitt. The Razorbacks reached into Columbia, Mo., to rip Whitt away from the Tigers.

Meanwhile, LSU holds a pledge from the nation's No. 2 overall senior, Ben Simmons. It's possible that the Bayou Tigers, not UK or UF, will have the best player in the conference next season.

Mississippi State has received commitments from top-100 wing Quinndary Weatherspoon along with guard Tookie Brown and forward Joseph Strugg. By no means has the league's non-powerhouses completed their work, but at least there's a healthy influx making its way to SEC campuses outside of Lexington and Gainesville.

— Rob Harrington

Evan Daniels, Brian Snow, Josh Gershon and Rob Harrington contributed to this report

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