(Note: we are introducing two new features to the daily posts during the trip: Coach Watch, which mentions which coaches were on hand to watch the games I was watching, especially relevant when Michigan coaches are there, and Main Event, which will be a quick recap of which game I thought was the day’s best or the one that was most relevant to Michigan fans. Enjoy.)
Day 2 of the Adidas Invitational is complete, and for a lot of players this was the last chance for them to show their stuff for all of the greatest coaches in the country. There was at least one breakout performance and one game absolutely filled to the brim with talent Michigan has its eyes on.
Coach Watch: The main focus of almost all the big-name coaches seems to be Indiana Elite. Almost all of their games are played on Court 1 at North Central High School, the main court of the tournament, and every time the stands are filled with the likes of Roy Williams, Billy Donovan, Coach K, Tom Izzo and others. It makes sense, with players like Yogi Ferrell, Cody Zeller and Marshall Plumlee all there. There were also a lot of eyes on the New England Playaz, which features Michigan targets Alex Murphy and Kaleb Tarczewski. Bacari Alexander and Lavall Jordan were both at the Playaz game I watched. Tom Izzo was watching Matt Costello intently, and was one of only two or three coaches who made the trip to Westland Middle School to watch Team Pride’s last game of the day. Alexander was on hand to watch Denzel Valentine earlier in the day. Jordan and Alexander were also on hand to watch Pride take on the Eric Gordon Central All-Stars, which feature Jeremy Hollowell and DJ Balentine. This game was also the day’s…
Main Event: Today’s choice was obvious. The game between Team Pride 16U (Ray Lee, Matt Costello, Anton Wilson) and Eric Gordon Central All-Stars was full of talent Michigan has its eyes on. Costello and Lee arrived late, but made an immediate impact. Gordon had no one who could contain Costello in the post, and he grabbed all the rebounds and blocked all the shots he wanted. Great game for him. Ray Lee had a pretty good game as well, though DJ Balentine played very good defense on him and used his big body against Lee’s slight build really well. Anton Wilson caught fire early on, hitting three 3′s, but faded late. Jeremy Hollowell wasn’t able to get whatever he wanted inside because of Costello, but he shot the ball well. The game went down to the wire, with Gordon pulling it out by a few points.
Matt Costello: This was Costello’s breakout day. There was buzz surrounding him all over camp. He played very well in the games I saw–scoring inside, passing extremely well out of the high post, rebounding and blocking shots–he did it all. Oh, and he also knocked down 3-pointers with consistency. He goes all-out all the time. Look for him to pick up some offers. Quickly.
Alex Murphy: He’s really good. I watched his team early in the day and he really showed what he can do. A wing who stands about 6-7, he can play essentially any position on the court. He handles the ball extremely well, runs the court and has impressive athleticism. I didn’t see him shoot much, but his passing was on point.
Denzel Valentine: Denzel had a good game in the one I saw him play, which is becoming the routine. He shot the ball well and showed off his post moves. One thing I haven’t mentioned: I think he gets to be a better passer every game. He runs point for the Mustangs, and I he might never be a true point guard because of his quickness but he’s certainly adept enough to initiate an offense, the vision is there.
Ray Lee: Lee said it himself: he didn’t have his best day. It’s not like he played poorly, he just didn’t really turn any heads. He just looked tired, to be honest. He had some moments in the game against the Eric Gordon Central All-Stars, but didn’t play very well in the later game me and coach Izzo were on hand for.
Kaleb Tarczewski: One of the big men for the Playaz, Kaleb was so-so. He is certainly a talent and has a great body, but he seemed a little sluggish and unwilling to assert himself in the post. He did rebound well and play great defense. If that’s all he’s going to do, that’s enough for a lot of schools to show interest because of his size, but he would do well to develop more of an offensive game.
Jeremy Hollowell: I saw a game and a half of Hollowell, and he continues to impress. He’s clearly one of the premiere players at the tournament in his age group. Not only is he a great athlete, but his shot is legit. And because of his combination of height and quickness, he can get a shot off whenever he feels like it.
DJ Balentine: Balentine played solidly from what I saw. I think he’s being overshadowed by Hollowell a little bit–if he were the man on a different team, I think we’d see more from him. He has a good shot, and he showed he can get inside and score. He needs to improve his quickness but if he learns how to post up smaller guards he’ll be lethal.
RJ Hunter: I didn’t see much of Hunter, but from what I saw it looked like he had a frustrating day. To be fair, it looked like the entire D-3 Heat squad was frustrated. He was missing shots and his defenders was shadowing him closely all game. That’s where he needs to develop an inside game, which is what he’s trying to do. Has to be able to make defenders pay when they’re up in his face.
Jaccoby Bledsoe: Bledsoe had a very good game. He really showed off his quickness and was able to finish in the post a little better than yesterday. He also showed some progress on his jumper, which is still just that–a work in progress. But he was aggressive and it paid off for him. Impressive game from what I saw.
Anton Wilson was at Michigan’s Elite and Team camps and he played much better here than he did at Crisler. He went off at the beginning of the first game I saw and he looked impressive overall. He focuses on his 3-point shot a little too much. He settles for it, when he could be driving to the basket or posting up. He’s tall, lanky and athletic–no reason for him not to drive to the basket.
Khaliq Spicer is a 6-8 forward prospect on the Mustangs 16′s who has played very well of late. He has soft hands and a very thin frame, but rebounds surprisingly well and scores inside. He has a decent jumper and runs the floor really well. Also, he has legitimate ups. Very good athlete.