Ten Storylines You Must Know About the July Live Period | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Wednesday / May 22.
  • Ten Storylines You Must Know About the July Live Period

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    Now that the July live period is over and weary players, coaches and media have returned home from a month of travel, here are 10 story lines you need to know about July.

    1. USA, USA!
    No, it’s not just a chant from the political conventions, it also sums up America’s dominance on the world stage at the youth basketball level. Despite cries that AAU basketball has ruined the basketball fundamentals of our youth, the U.S. won the gold medal at the FIBA U17 World Championship in Zaragoza, Spain and also took home gold from the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Valdivia, Chile. The U.S. now stands at a perfect 30-0 all-time in U17 play, while the U18s are 53-2 all-time.

    2. Canada’s still pretty good, too

    Our neighbors to the North may have failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics, but the country that produced Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph has more bright stars on the horizon. Virginia Tech commit Nickeil Alexander-Walker paced Canada’s U18 squad with a team-high 25 points in Saturday night’s gold medal game after averaging a team-best 17.4 points over the Canadians’ first four games. At the U17 level, R.J. Barrett dropped 33 points in a quarterfinal loss to Turkey and Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and Texas are all working hard for the Class of 2019 wing. His likely future Montverde (FL) Academy teammate Andrew Nembhard is a 6-4 lead guard who also has several elite schools working hard.

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxwKmGLnmfo]

    3. Collin Sexton dominated

    It’s possible that nobody had a better July than Collin Sexton. The 6-foot-3 point guard from Mableton (GA) Pebblebrook was named the U17 World Championship MVP after going for 16 points, including 10 in the first quarter, and eight assists as the USA destroyed Turkey, 96-56, in the U17 gold medal game.

    On July 18, Sexton cut his school list to 10: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Kansas, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State and reigning NCAA champion Villanova.

    On Friday, Sexton went for 20 points to lead Team CP3 to an 88-72 win over Mokan Elite in the championship game of The 8 AAU tournament.

    Oh, and did we mention he also dropped 44 points on the Georgia Stars in a game at the Peach Jam?

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YZiC2_y980]

    4. Mass Rivals went undefeated in July

    As far as teams go, nobody had a better month than Vin Pastore and Mass Rivals. The Massachusetts team competed in four tournaments, winning four championships and going 21-0. Led by guards Makai Ashton-Langford and Wabissa Bede, Mass Rivals finished up July be taking care of Garner Road (N.C.) 93-78 to win the Adidas Summer Championship on ESPNU.

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    5. Washington is adding a couple of pros

    Lorenzo Romar hasn’t led Washington to the NCAA Tournament since 2011, but there may be no excuses if he fails to do so across the next two years. After sending two players to the first round of the NBA Draft this year in Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray, Washington now has two projected one-and-done lottery picks sewn up in incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz and 6-9 wing Michael Porter Jr., who committed for 2017. The 6-5 Fultz, who could be in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick in 2017, was named the MVP of the U.S. U18 team in Chile after going for 23 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in the final. Porter Jr., meantime, averaged 15.8 points and 5.6 rebounds while leading the U18s in scoring. That came after he dropped 33 points on the PSA Cardinals in the Peach Jam final before the entire Washington coaching staff, including Romar, his Godfather, and his father, assistant coach Michael Porter Sr. The two future Huskies were the leading scorers on the U18 team, combining to average 29.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 7.6 assists.

    6. Point guards, point guards, point guards

    The Class of 2017 has several elite point guards at the top of the class and it’s going to be fascinating to see where they all end up. The U18 team kept three of them in Trae Young, Quade Green and Matt Coleman, while Trevon Duval did not play for Team USA. Coleman, out of Oak Hill Academy (VA), actually led the U18 team among point guards in scoring at 7.8 points while also dishing 4.4 assists per game. Young, a major factor in MoKan Elite’s Peach Jam title, averaged 6.0 points and 6.0 points and 3.2 assists, while Green, who led the PSA Cardinals to the Peach Jam final, averaged 4.6 points and 2.6. dimes.

    In the end, expect Kentucky and Duke to each add one of these guys although who lands where remains unclear. The 6-2 Young is considering several schools, including Kentucky and Oklahoma. The 6-foot Green cut his list to 13 schools, with Duke, Kentucky and Syracuse among those in the mix. The 6-2 Coleman has a slew of suitors, including Syracuse, Xavier, Arizona, Texas, Louisville, Stanford, Washington, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Ohio State, Providence and Seton Hall. The 6-3 Duval plans to cut his list to 10 in August, with many sources now saying it could come down to Under Armour schools UCLA and Maryland.

    7. Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine are the truth

    While some coaches (and national analysts) were just exposed to the Class of 2019 stars this month in Las Vegas and elsewhere, those of us closer to New Jersey know all about the Ranney School (N.J.) stars. Kentucky’s John Calipari, Kansas’ Bill Self and assistants from Duke are among those monitoring the duo, whose coach was told they can get an offer from any school they are interested in. “I’m going to be honest with you,” Antoine told SNY.tv in Georgia. “Whenever any coach comes up and watches our game I’m usually pretty chill. But when coach Cal came up, not going to lie, Jalen Gaffney and I saw him come up to watch us, that was the first time I’ve ever been starstruck by a coach.”

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiU08JbPO90]

    8. Don’t sleep on New York, New Jersey

    While Lewis and Antoine may have enjoyed the biggest breakout of any players from New Jersey or New York in July, AAU teams from the two states did quite well this month. The PSA Cardinals came back from 20 points down in the Peach Jam semifinals to beat Team Penny before coming up short against Porter Jr. and MoKan Elite in the final. The NY Rens reached the Peach Jam quarterfinals. WE-R1 and Sports U captured the 17U and 16U titles, respectively, at the UAA Finals in Cartersville, Ga. The NY Lightning also reached the 17U Gold Division Championship at the AAU Super Showcase. Meantime, New York City stars like Mohamed Bamba and Hamidou Diallo helped the USA U18 team win the gold medal in Chile.

    9. Kids can commit at anytime

    As a reminder that recruiting is a 12-month gig, a group of players committed in July, right during the busiest recruiting month of the year. On top of Michael Porter Jr. (Washington), Chuma Okeke (Auburn), Zach Brown (St. John’s) Eli Brooks (Michigan) and Andrew Platek (North Carolina), all pulled the trigger in July.

    10. What’s ahead in August

    While some, like ESPN national recruiting director Paul Biancardi, have called for August to be a dead month in recruiting to give everybody (including coaches) a break, that isn’t the case right now. Instead, coaches will now move to get players on unofficial visits next month, while players across the nation will be “cutting” their lists — some to 15, some to 13, some to 5. In terms of events, New York City will host the Big Strick Classic on Aug. 6 and the Under Armour Elite 24 Game on Aug. 20, while L.A. hosts Adidas Nations July 28-Aug. 1.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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