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August 7, 2012

Adidas Nations: Championship observations

For the first few days of action at Adidas Nations, Rivals.com was at ground level with coverage from contributors Edward Lewis and A.J. Stokes. Monday night, the championship and consolation games were televised giving national recruiting analyst Eric Bossi a chance to make some observations.

Adidas Nations thoughts

Monday night, the consolation and championship games of the Adidas Nations program were televised. The games gave an extra opportunity to make some obsvervations, and there were some things to pick up. But it's also important to note that these games were just a snapshot and featured several tired, ready-to-get-home kids, so not too much can be made of one television game. Nevertheless, Noah Vonleh, Emmanuel Mudiay and Dante Exum were among the standouts.

Noah Vonleh: After settling for too many jumpers early, the No. 3 player in the class of 2014 came up huge when it mattered most in leading his team to an overtime championship win. All night long the 6-foot-8 combo forward was a monster on the glass and showed a good skill level with the ability to mix his inside and outside game. It's long been the contention of Rivals.com that Vonleh is at his best when he mixes it up inside first and then goes outside, and Monday night showed that. After getting some crucial buckets thanks to hard work on the offensive glass, Vonleh stepped out and confidently drained a game-winning three to finish with 25 points and 16 rebounds.

Emmanuel Mudiay: Like Vonleh, the 6-foot-4 point guard turned things on at the end when it mattered most. A big, physical and athletic floor general, he's good in either the pick-and-roll or operating in space and just making plays. He will share the basketball willingly (as he showed by dishing off to Vonleh for the game-winning shot) and is a clutch player late in games. He's already No. 6 in 2014, but perhaps there's room to move him up a little more based on a very impressive summer and long-term potential/tools.

Jordan Mathews: A strong 13-point effort on 6-of-11 FG shooting was a great finish to the summer for the 6-foot-3 scorer from Santa Monica. What you have to love about Mathews is that he doesn't waste dribbles and knows how to read defenders with and without the ball to find scoring pockets on the floor.

Jermaine Lawrence: At around 6-foot-9, Lawrence is a quick-twitch muscle guy who is thinking score, score, score. When he decides to go and rebound the ball like he's capable of, he can be a very difficult matchup because of his ability to produce on the glass and the scoreboard. He has a little bit of a quick trigger on jumpers at times and projects more as a college 4-man, but the ability to eventually play the wing full-time looks to be there.

Devin Williams: A thickly built bruiser who plays hard and likes to bang in the paint, Williams is likely best suited to play the center in college. As he always does, he did the dirty work for the USA 2013 Blue team and was highly productive around the rim racking up 16 points and eight rebounds. Like a lot of other big men in 2013, Williams leaves a lot of points on the rim due to poor free throw shooting.

Dante Exum: After playing well in Las Vegas at the Super 64 and then drawing rave reviews early in the Adidas Nations event, the 6-foot-5 Australian combo guard was outstanding. He's got command of the ball, a great first step and a body built to finish through contact at the rim. His jumper is solid and he reads the high ball screen very well on both defense and offense. Could he be a five-star in 2014?

Ben Simmons: Simmons was a few finishes/shots that rattled out of the rim away from having a monster game. Still, he showed flashes of what appears to be a pretty immense talent level. The smooth southpaw is a dangerous jump shooter with easy three-point range, rebounds instinctively and has a high overall skill level.

Justise Winslow: Whenever Winslow takes the floor, you can count on the solid 6-foot-5 wing contributing in every area of the box score. He is a judicious shooter who rarely takes a bad shot,and he makes the most of finishing opportunities. On top of that he defends, rebounds and passes the ball at a high level. Winslow showed why he's a top 10 player in 2014 with his balanced all-around game.

Craig Victor: At about 6-foot-7 or so, Victor is a bit of a 4/3 tweener when it comes to position. He shoots the ball well from the elbow area, has gotten stronger and helped to change the game against Australia for the USA 2014 Blue with his work on the glass. He had a solid outing to get 13 and 10 without forcing anything.

Isaiah Whitehead: The 6-foot-4 guard puts pressure on the defense because he is always attacking. At his best as a slasher off the dribble who attacks the rim, Whitehead makes just enough deep jumpers (although he is streaky from deep) to keep defenders honest. Few in 2014 see driving lanes as well as he does, and he's built to finish through contact with plenty of room to add even more strength.

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