Notebook: USA Takes Stage

In our weekly Notebook feature, the national team explores creative and broad topics from the grassroots hoops realm. This week, we lead off with USA Basketball’s upcoming event.

USAB flexes muscle

All eyes will be on USA Basketball this weekend, as a crop of the nation’s best underclassmen will go head-to-head in Colorado Springs, Colo.

On Thursday, 33 players will take the court in hopes of making the Men’s Junior National team — including elite 2017 guard Troy Brown (pictured above) — which will compete in the FIBA Americas U16 Championship from June 10-14 in Blanca, Argentina.

Here is the list of invitees: Daejon Davis, Jalen Hill, Kevin Knox, Jaedon Ledee, Alex Reese, Tre Jones, Marvin Bagley, Michael Barber, Jordan Brown, Marquis Brown, Troy Brown, Wendell Carter, Nojel Eastern, Darius Garland, Cart’Are Gordon, Jaylen Hands, Elijah Hardy, Markus Howard, Montez Mathis, Brandon Johns, Jaylen Nowell, E.J. Montgomery, Charles O’Bannon, Cameron Reddish, Nazreon Reid, David Sloan, Ja’Vonte Smart, Gary Trent, Jarred Vanderbilt, Connor Vanover, Kaleb Wesson, Austin Wiley and Robert Woodard.

On Sunday, the USA Basketball staff will narrow the list of participants to 16, before making the final 12-player roster on Monday. The list of invites includes 17 prospects that will graduate in 2018 and 16 that are set to graduate in 2017.

Don Showalter will coach the team, while Sharman White and Miles Simon will serve as assistant coaches.

Scout will have full coverage of the event starting on Thursday.

— Evan Daniels

Virginia talent riding historic high

Something is brewing in the Old Dominion. The state of Virginia historically has produced its share of elite talent, but the classes of 2016 and 2017 are strong even by that high standard. We knew entering the travel season that the state enjoyed a bountiful couple of classes, but the past couple months have driven home the point even further.

Of course, Virginia also historically has benefited from the presence of Oak Hill Academy, Hargrave Military Academy and other institutions that import players from other states (or countries). Still, even factoring that into the equation, the state’s allotment of high-majors is eye-popping.

In the rising senior Class of 2016 — and again, some of these guys aren’t natives, but all are playing their high school ball in Virginia — ranked players include V.J. King (No. 12), Sacha Killeya-Jones (No. 38), Mamadi Diakite (No. 43), Rodney Miller (No. 66) and Javin DeLaurier (No. 100 and will rise a ton soon).

Killeya-Jones will bring size and skill to Charlottesville

Additionally, players such as Joe Hampton, Quentin Jackson, Scott Spencer, Corey Manigault, Justice Kithcart, Rich Washington, J.J. Mathews and Maliek White, among others, all possess high-major bonafides.

Moving to the 2017 class, three of our top 50 national prospects hail from Virginia: Matt Coleman (No. 17), Aaron Thompson (No. 42) and Dajour Dickens (No. 48). Meanwhile, others to watch — some with offers — for majors include Brendan Newton, Blake Harris and Jordan Cross.

You might assume that the state’s flagship school, UVa, would be closely involved with many of these prospects. Interestingly, however, only one of the club’s four 2016 pledges (Killeya-Jones) plays in Virginia, and he’s actually from southern neighbor North Carolina.

That said, the Cavaliers are deeply invested in the Diakite recruitment, and of course there’s more than one major program in the state. Buzz Williams and Virginia Tech continue to work toward a competitive ACC roster, and the Hokies clearly have put their eyes on nearly all of those listed above.

Georgetown sits nearby, too, of course, and there four ACC programs located in N.C. that also would love to poach Virginia’s finest.

The talent windfall has produced not only excellent players for fans to enjoy, but also will make for some high-drama recruitments over the next couple years.

— Rob Harrington

Aaron transfer big for Trojans

One of the West Coast's top prospects in 2014 was Seattle Rainier Beach small forward Shaqquan Aaron, who ended up signing with Louisville and playing for the Cardinals as a freshman.

Scout's 27th ranked prospect in the class, Aaron was always a kid who was going to need a little bit of time adjusting to the college both from an approach and strength standpoint.

NCAA issues then slowed down his progress and ultimately he never got on the same page as Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, leading to Aaron transferring.

On Wednesday, Aaron chose USC, giving the program a big commitment, as he'll be the first five-star prospect to line up for the Trojans since Demar DeRozan in 2009.

The addition of Aaron gives USC what should be seven Top 100 prospects on the roster in 2016-17 — he joins Katin Reinhardt, Jordan McLaughlin, Elijah Stewart, Malik Marquetti, Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright on that list — and it's no doubt a squad that has the talent to be expected to make the NCAA tournament.

USC will still be young in 2015-16, so while pressure will rise on Andy Enfield for the program to show improvement in his third season, the amount of talent on the roster makes the NCAA tournament a very viable goal for 2016-17.

— Josh Gershon

Huerter caps strong spring

One of the pleasant surprises of the spring was the play of Albany City Rocks 2016 guard Kevin Huerter. Last weekend at the EYBL event, Huerter arrived late due to baseball but when he did get in, he made a huge impact.

At 6-foot-4 with long arms, good athleticism, tremendous shooting ability and solid floor vision, Huerter has the ability to play all over the perimeter.

In terms of his recruitment, things are just beginning to explode for Huerter. Syracuse is considered a major threat, but they have only offered him as a member of the 2017 class. Notre Dame has also put itself in a strong early position, with others certain to follow.

— Brian Snow

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

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