LOS ANGELES—In some respects the Adidas Nations camp is the perfect way for high school basketball players to end a long, travel filled AAU season. Playing game after game for five days straight, on tired legs with little sleep and potentially holding onto some jet lag, it can be easy to fall into bad habits at times. Adidas Nations provides the perfect recourse to get players back on track with their fundamentals as they head back into their high school season, offering 1-on-1 coaching and detail oriented drill work, as well as competing against some of the best players in the world.
Several Michigan targets were invited and made the trip out west to compete, all of them standing out with their unique and versatile abilities. My evaluations based on what I saw, included below:
2014 Park Tudor (Ind.) SF Trevon Bluiett—Even in the drill portion of Adidas Nations, Bluiett looked smooth. Working full court shooting drills, working on step backs, pull-ups, mid-range and long range shots, Bluiett did it all at a game pace, calmly and consistently knocking down jumpers, having no trouble doing what the instructors asked. Playing in a game later in the day, Bluiett did what he does, just score the basketball. Able to fill up the cup in several different ways, Bluiett was ready to play against the best and was easily one of the most productive players on the floor. Everyone says he won’t wow with athleticism, and that’s fine, true even, but Bluiett is a kid that can simply create space and get his shot off anywhere, at any time.
2014 Ypsilanti (Mich.) PF Jaylen Johnson—Definitely eye opening watching Johnson run through drills, an inside look at where his development is headed as he moves to the next level, Johnson was working through some footwork and ball handling skills that will be toned up in college. Johnson’s raw athleticism and attitude are a constant and very attractive to coaches looking on. Johnson’s shot is still a work in progress but something that can be improved through time. There’s a lot to like about Johnson and Beilein would be a coach that could do wonders for his game from a skill development standpoint. In his game, Johnson was very active, adding a playmaker tag to his game, setting up teammates inside while also attacking the glass offensively and defensively.
2014 Findlay (Nev.) F Jonah Bolden—One of the most intriguing players in attendance at Adidas Nations, Bolden had several eyes watching him throughout the day and there’s definitely some substance to the hype about the Australian. Bolden can jump very well for such a tall, long player and his greatest asset is his outside shot. Very long arms allow him to be a difference maker inside defensively without the type of muscle he’ll need to add at the next level. Slithery and smooth in his ability to penetrate on the offensive end, Bolden has a very high skill level and terrific touch.
2015 Bishop Gorman (Nev.) C Stephen Zimmerman—Extremely fundamentally sound and full of skill, Zimmerman was allowed to be unleashed a bit during the drill work and 3-on-3/4-on-4 group work. Asked to be a rebounder, shot blocker, and facilitator for his AAU team, this setting was the perfect time for Zimmerman to just play ball, not worrying about anything other than looking to score and make the right play -- and he did. In the drill, the team that scored stayed on the court while a new team came on to play defense and during one stretch, Zimmerman poured in four straight buckets including a three and several one handed floaters inside. Zimmerman was impressive for team USA in their afternoon game as well, scoring, rebounding, and doing what he does best, running the floor with ease.
2015 La Lumiere (Ind.) SG Jalen Coleman—If it was possible for Coleman to speed up his crossover, Friday, it was deadly. Coleman was in attack mode eager to prove himself and compete against the best, shaking defenders right before crossing back left and finding a gaping hole in the defense to either give himself an open look or dish it to a post inside. Coleman knocked down a couple of outside shots but most impressive in the drill was his on the ball defense. Very quick footed, Coleman doesn’t let many players get around him, getting his hands on the basketball as well. Coleman struggled in the game Friday afternoon, playing a little more point than he’s used to, throwing a few more turnovers than he would like and was held scoreless.
2015 St. Joseph (Ohio) PF Carlton Bragg—Asked to play a very physical brand of basketball inside the paint during AAU, Bragg was able to showcase his perimeter skills Friday. Able to handle the ball and knock down outside shots, Bragg proved athletic enough and strong enough to guard smaller players on the perimeter or continue to bang inside with a high level of intensity. Bragg is very active and when he decides to attack the rim there isn’t much that’s going to prevent him from getting to it. Bragg was playing against a very long team Africa Friday and didn’t affect the game as much in the scoring column but held his own defensively, getting his hand on several balls, and never wavering in his hustle.
2015 Spring Valley (S.C.) PG P.J. Dozier—A very mature game for the soon-to-be junior. Dozier has elite size at the point guard position and his length really provides an advantage on both ends of the floor. Dozier wants the ball in his hands but rarely dribbles the air out of the ball, making smart decisions and always finding the open man. Dozier can knock down the outside shot, a true luxury from the point guard position and has good instincts as far as when to score and when to distribute, not one to force any action. Dozier did well running the show for team USA in their blow out win Friday.
2015 St. John Bosco (Calif.) SG Tyler Dorsey—Dorsey is a shooting guard in every sense of the word. A very athletic wing that can with penetration, Dorsey is absolutely lights out from the three-point line. Very impressive to watch him work in drills and focus intently on expanding his game in order to play on the ball a bit at the college level, Dorsey is having no trouble transitioning back and forth. Dorsey was one of the go to guys for team USA, scoring plenty of buckets when his team needed them.
2015 Corona Centennial (Calif.) PG Sedrick Barefield—Barefield is a very skilled ball handler and advanced in that category at this stage in his development. A good decision maker with a knack for making difficult passes and finding the open man, Barefield excelled in drills. One area in need of improvement is his outside shot, knocking it down with consistency at the next level will be key for floor spacing in college. With a talent rich team USA roster, Barefield fit well into his role as distributor with big men and wings that love getting the ball fed to them in good spots.
2016 Consortium (Mich.) SG Josh Jackson—Jackson is a special kind of talent. Truly the exact blend of size and athleticism necessary to star at the off guard in college, Jackson still has three years remaining in high school but has the ability that makes it difficult to believe. With his outside shot not dropping in Friday afternoon’s game, Jackson found other ways to impact the game, driving into the paint, crashing the offensive glass, and throwing down two-handed put back dunks on some of his teammates’ misses. Jackson has a great feel for the game and prospered playing alongside point guards that could find him in the open floor.
2016 Findlay (Nev.) PG Derryck Thornton Jr.—Very aggressive and confident in his abilities, Thornton Jr. is only going to be a sophomore but is already a commander of his troops and leader on the floor at the point guard position. A blend of elite passing and distributing skills as a point guard, Thornton Jr. can score the ball with the best of them, hitting outside shots or attacking the rim with bad intentions. Thornton Jr. even got involved on the offensive glass, scooping up several misses inside and putting the ball back up and in. Defensively, Thornton Jr. is all over the place, on the ball and off, disrupting the flow of the opposing teams’ offense with his activity.
2016 Madison Acad. (Ala.) SF Josh Langford—Langford is a man already, naturally built in the same form as Ohio State commitment Jae’Sean Tate, also possessing some of that aggression inside him. Langford has great bounce to go with his figure and can do everything from an athletic standpoint on both ends of the floor. Langford can put it on the floor right now and is most comfortable attacking in that way, needing to tighten up his jump shot to hit it with more regularity.