USA Basketball: Storylines

What were the biggest storylines from the USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team mini-camp? Scout's Evan Daniels and Josh Gershon take a look.

Josh Jackson dominates in elite setting

Not that anyone would doubt Josh Jackson's talent or competitiveness because he’s shown both consistently in just about every setting for a long time. But this weekend he further only helped an extremely high stock. One of the best areas of Jackson’s game is his defense and there wasn’t a player at the camp that took that side of the court more seriously this weekend. He ferociously defended almost every position on the court, while also using his ball skills and athleticism to score at the basket and hitting the occasional jumper. It was a successful weekend for Scout’s 2nd ranked 2016 prospect.

Troy Brown one of nation’s most versatile prospects

Troy Brown has been a strangely controversial prospect almost from the time he showed up to the national scene as a freshman until now. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t have a true position, it could be because he’s not a great shooter, or maybe just the better you are, the more detractors you’re going to have. Whatever the case, Brown further established himself as one of the nation’s most unique and versatile prospects this weekend. At 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, Brown has the size, length, athleticism and competitiveness to defend the one, two and three. Offensively he can likely help you at all three spots too due to his ball skills, vision and improving jumper.

Josh Langford perfect fit at Michigan State

Over the last couple of years, Josh Langford has missed a lot of time due to injury, so it’s been difficult to gauge his progress as a prospect. He’s been back in action his summer and not only solidified his stock as one of the best players in the 2016 class, also made a smart decision choosing Michigan State, a program that fits him perfectly. At 6-foot-5, Langford has good size for a shooting guard, but also a toughness that Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo covets in his players. He’ll guard multiple positions, score with his handle or jumper, rebound and use his vision to make teammates better. Langford plays hard every time out and made his presence felt this weekend.

Mohamed Bamba’s rise continues

Ten months ago, Mohamed Bamba wasn’t a nationally recognized name. In fact, he was virtually unknown. Fast forward to October and Bamba, a 6-foot-11 post player ranked No. 3 overall by Scout, was one of the premiere prospects heading into what is becoming the most prestigious camp in high school hoops – USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team mini-camp. And as good as Bamba was at times this past summer, his performance at USA Basketball surpassed previous evaluations. Bamba impacted the game in a variety of ways and showed elite upside. To go with his height, Bamba has a ridiculous wingspan that stretches 7-foot-8. But he has much more than the physical tools. He beat opposing bigs down the floor, finished off plays with dunks around the rim, made it difficult for the opposition to score with his length and timing, plus showed good touch on his short range shots.

Wendell Carter shows efficiency

After a strong summer, Wendell Carter, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound big man, showed up and put together a very business like effort at USA Basketball. Carter was very efficient over the weekend and took advantage of his scoring opportunities on the block. At this stage he’s drawing comparisons to 2015 lottery pick Jahlil Okafor, and their games are certainly similar. Much like Okafor, Carter has terrific touch around the goal and finishes effectively with either hand. Where Carter differs is he’s developed a very consistent mid-range jump shot that he knocks down with ease. At camp, Carter also focused on the glass, especially on the offensive end where he was able to put back misses.

2016 class has superior prospects

It’s been written a few times on Scout, but it became increasingly clear at the USA Basketball camp over the weekend that the top tier players in 2016 are as good as we’ve scouted in recent memory. The 2016 players at camp like Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum and De'Aaron Fox were nothing short of dominating in this setting. While you would expect the older players to be more effective in a camp like this, it was their long term potential that showed through and outclassed the young prospects in attendance. And that was with arguably the best of the bunch – Harry Giles – sitting on the sideline with an injured hand.

No adjustment time needed for Markelle Fultz

Often times when a player shows up to a USA Basketball camp for the first time, it takes them a bit to get comfortable. Ask almost every current or former participant, and they’ll mostly all tell you that the first day or weekend was an adjustment period for them. That wasn’t the case with Markelle Fultz. The 6-foot-4 combo guard was terrific from the moment he stepped on the court for his first time at Colorado Springs on Saturday morning until the camp ended on Sunday night. His combination of size, length, vision, athleticism, scoring and motor make him a player who would be an elite prospect at the one and the two. He’ll make a big impact at Washington right away.


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