Adidas Invitational: Day 1

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I am here in Indianapolis at the Adidas Invitational.  The rest of the country may be focused on the goings-on at LeBron’s camp, but I can assure you we’ve got some serious talent here as well and there are no free agency questions here to distract us.  I got to watch a bunch of games yesterday and saw a ton of talent.  Here are some of the names on Michigan’s radar and what I thought of how they played.

Denzel Valentine (2012, W) Valentine played well in the game I saw, though his team was winning by a lot and he didn’t play that much.  He took advantage of the time, though, showing his range and vast array of space-creating moves.  He used his pivot in the post expertly.  The guy just scores baskets, and he dropped some dimes as well.  He was running point guard while he was in.

Jeremy Hollowell (2012, W) Hollowell is an extremely talented wing playing for the Eric Gordon Central Stars 116U.  He’s very athletic and tall (6-6), which meant he was able to grab rebounds, start and finish breaks.  And he finished with authority.  The guy can jump out of the gym and showed it, slamming a mean alley-oop midway through the game.  He also showed an impressive stroke from 3.  His ballhandling is good but could be better.  He already has offers from a ton of schools, including Indiana, Ohio State and Illinois, but hasn’t received one from Michigan.  He did mention he knew Lavall Jordan from his Iowa days.  This guy’s a big-time player.

DJ Balentine (2012, PG) Balentine plays for the same team as Hollowell and runs the point.  He’s big and strong for a guard and has the ability to finish inside.  He’s not extremely quick but his shot from beyond the arc is impressive.  He has the ability to push around smaller guards inside, but doesn’t know how to use his big body as well as someone like Carlton Brundidge.  It will be an interesting match-up on Wednesday as his team takes on Ray Lee and Team Pride.

RJ Hunter (2012, G) RJ played really well in the game I saw.  He was unconscious from three, nailing six shots from long range.  But he was also focused on showing off parts of his game coaches might not have heard about as much.  He took the ball to the rack quite a bit and showed off some athleticism.  He got stopped a few times in the paint, but just being aggressive was good for him.  He said after the game he’d been trying to get stronger, and it showed.  He has an exceedingly smooth stroke, and has been working on other aspects of his game as well.  His interior defense has also improved.

Jacobby Bledsoe (2012, PG) Bledsoe played pretty well from what I saw.  I had never seen him play before, and the thing that stood out for me was his height.  He’s only about 5-8.  It didn’t hinder him too much because he has great speed, but he needs to find creative ways to finish in the paint to avoid getting blocked.  Overall, he did his job.  He led the break, made good decisions, created opportunities for his teammates and finished some tough layups inside.  He also played very good defense.

Jordan Price (2012, G) Jordan Price is the real deal.  The guard out of Georgia is big, strong and very quick.  His handle was very impressive and he was strong with the ball in the paint.  He showed off a jumpshot, but it’s clear his strength is going to the paint and either finding his teammates or finishing at the rim.  He kept his head up at all times and played with a lot of confidence.  What made him stand out was his combination of size and quickness.

Yogi Ferrell (2012, PG) I saw Yogi play in Indy Elite’s last game of the night, a thriller against the Dallas Mustangs that went until almost 10pm.  He didn’t play much in the first half, but when his coach put him in in the second half, he balled.  Yogi is simply a complete package.  He handles the ball, he shoots, he has great vision, and he’s fearless.  He took a little time to gain his footing (keep in mind, he is playing up) but once he found it he was lights out.  He had a sensational crossover for a 3-pointer at a crucial moment, and was a big reason Cody Zeller hit his stride later in the game.  He got shafted on a few late foul calls, but overall a great performance, and in front of the likes of Tom Crean, Roy Williams, Billy Donovan and John Beilein to boot.

Cody Zeller (2011, PF) upstaged his frontcourt mate last night, stealing the show in the Elite’s game against the Dallas Mustangs.  He went to the rack with confidence and even though he had a bad second half, he never stopped being aggressive.  Marshall Plumlee (2011, C) was underwhelming, especially on such a big stage, but still very active.  He seemed a little thrown off his game by the physical play, but he could have just been having an off night. The 6-foot-11 junior is expected to choose between Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina (no offer) any day now.

Other Notes: Jalen Reynolds helped the REACH Legends cruise through pool play with a 2-0 record before losing in the first round of bracket play. Per TJ of InsidePrepSports, Reynolds played very well and impressed all of those that were in attendance including coaches from Michigan, USC, Xavier, Purdue, Detroit, and Michigan State. I should be able to catch REACH in action tomorrow, assuming the scheduling gods are kind, but if not then I’ll see him in Louisville later in the week.

Scheduling issues prevented us from catching Dorian’s Pride in action as well. The U16s, led by Ray Lee, Matt Costello, and Anton Wilson, went 2-0 in pool play and I will see them tomorrow afternoon.

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