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Sullinger stands out at adidas Nations

DALLAS -- The adidas Nations Camp is an outstanding event featuring players from adidas' global grass roots basketball program. Teams from Africa, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Canada and the United States were in attendance. It was four days of outstanding on- and off-the-court development, which culminated with 2010 adidas US National Team defeating Team Canada 85-83 in the championship game. The stars of the game were Jared Sullinger and Cory Joseph. Sullinger led the US team with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Joseph paced the gritty Canadians with 33 points and six assists.

This high-profile event was held at the Integrated Athletic Development facility. NBA coaches and current college players served as mentors for these high school players. This event consisted of much more than games. There were skill-development sessions, team practices, a community youth clinic, motivational speakers and media training. Adidas did a great job of preparing these young players for college and beyond.

Standout players

2010 PF Jared Sullinger, 6-8, 265 pounds
(Columbus, OH/Northland), committed to Ohio State

Sullinger's body of work for the spring and summer has been a model of consistency. As a highly-skilled power forward, he is a top producer of points and rebounds game after game. He was dominant much of the adidas Nations leading his team to the championship. A lot of what Sullinger does is subtle to the casual observer, but the more you watch and breakdown his game it is easy to see why his teams win so often. He is only 17 years old (won't turn 18 until March), but has the body and carries himself with the savvy of an adult. Because he understands positioning and angles he compensates for whatever he is lacking in athleticism. Sullinger plays the game cerebrally at a high level and is a warrior in every sense of the word. It isn't difficult to picture him as the next Tyler Hansbrough-type in college basketball -- a player that has detractors, but just keeps leading his team to victories.

2010 PG Cory Joseph, 6-3, 180 pounds
(Toronto, ON (Can)/Findley Prep (NV))

The Canadian product is steadily becoming one of the better players and point guards in the 2010 recruiting class. In fact, he may have been the prospect with the most buzz coming out of this event. He put on a show in the semifinals against the 2011 US Team dropping 36 points and dishing 12 dimes against two of the top US point guards in the 2011 class. He followed that up with a 33-point performance in a tough loss during the championship game against the 2010 US Team. He plays with a great feel and pace using his court vision to pick apart the defense. Although he is right handed, he loves to play with the ball in his left hand and he can attack effectively going either direction. He consistently buried open 3-pointers throughout the tournament and showed a good mid-range game. He is one of those players that always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Plays very unselfishly, but can get his own shot and take over a game at any time. He has a little old school in him because he uses his body to shield defenders and spin dribble to the basket. He is deceptively quick showing no problem accelerating by the highest level guards. He is also a rangy defender that covers a lot of ground and uses his instincts off the ball to come up with steals. This kid is a gamer that should continue to turn heads as the year goes on.

2011 PF Rakeem Christmas, 6-9, 220 pounds
(Philadelphia, PA/Northeast Catholic)

Christmas wowed everyone in attendance as one of the top prospects at the event with his control of the lane and his play above the rim. This kid's star continues to rise as he develops his overall game. He was a monster on the offensive glass with some vicious put-back dunks off of missed shots. He gives great effort beating his opponent running the floor and gets rewarded with some easy conversions in transition. His skill level in the post is still in its developmental stage, but with his work ethic and attitude he should turn out to be a very quick study. He dominated the paint against the older classifications with his shot blocking ability in leading the 2011 adidas US National Team to a 4-0 record in pool play. He is a quick jumper with excellent lateral quickness and timing. He's deceptively strong and defensively rebounds against bigger, stronger opponents. He has two more seasons of high school basketball before he gets the chance to impact a college program. He is going to be special, so let the recruiting wars begin.

2011 PG Marquis Teague, 6-1, 165 pounds
(Indianapolis, IN/Pike)

Quick, explosive and fearless are all good adjectives when describing one of the top point guards in the 2011 class. Teague was a difference maker in the majority of games at the adidas Nations event. He has a tendency to play a little too aggressive and fast with the basketball at times, but this kid can get the ball into the lane at will against anybody. In transition, with a full head of steam, he is impossible to handle. The best a defender can do is retreat and concede the open 15-foot jumper. He has an attacking mentality and looks to push the ball at every opportunity, while putting a lot of pressure on the defense. He showed a nice feel for drawing the defense and kicking to an open shooter. He is a scoring machine that is more of a penetrator than a shooter, but showed he can make a three off the dribble using a ball screen or off the catch when the defense was out of position. He gave great effort pressuring the ball on the defensive end of the floor. With his superior feet and quickness, he is able to get up under the ballhandler and be very disruptive.

2010 PF Josh Hairston, 6-8, 210 pounds
(Fredericksburg, VA/Montrose Christian Academy (Md.)), committed to Duke

It is easy to understand why Duke likes this kid. Hairston is an intelligent, skilled, effort guy who plays with a passion. He is a long, fundamentally sound, athletic 4 that uses both hands to finish around the rim. He can put it on the floor and get to the rim from free throw line area with a strong sweep move. He has a good body, but will benefit immensely from a good strength training program. He has a chance to be a very good defender that can guard on the perimeter and in the post because of his length and good feet. He has a great motor, runs the floor, contests everything, consistently blocks out (which is a rarity at these events), is active on the offensive glass and has a good looking stroke from 15-to-17 feet. He will fit in well in Durham.

2011 PG Tony Wroten Jr., 6-5, 205 pounds
(Renton, WA/Garfield)

Wroten can be a mixed bag at times. Sometimes he looks like a world beater that dominates the competition with his strength and playmaking ability, but other times he struggles as his own worst enemy trying to create something out of nothing by forcing the issue. At this event he was more the former than the latter. He displayed a balanced, mature game and showed he could be an effective playmaker from the point or the wing position. He played off the ball more often when he and Teague were in together. He is physically overpowering at this level and can explode into the paint at will, but he is going to have to become a more consistent threat from the perimeter in order for his game to translate at the higher levels. He has superior hands and is a magnet for loose balls and long rebounds. He can take a bump to the rim and finish, but makes his mark as a passer. One of the elite players in the class with a lot of time to improve on his areas of weakness, as long as he stays focused.

2011 SF LeBryan Nash, 6-7, 220 pounds
(Dallas, TX/Lincoln)

Nash passes the look test when he gets off the bus and in lay-up lines because he was the most impressive physical specimen at the event. He has tremendous potential and upside because of his explosive athleticism and strength. He made some high-level plays off the dribble and finished impressively over the top of the defense at the rim. One of the best finishers in the high school ranks, regardless of class. He is a streaky shooter from the perimeter going long stretches were he couldn't throw it in the ocean, but then knocking down a couple of 3-pointers from deep. He rebounds like a power forward and is a handful on the offensive glass, especially in transition. However, he is an unorthodox defender that gambles and takes too many risks. He seems like a nice kid with charisma, but one red flag that went up with many of the evaluators in attendance was the potential for his attitude to be a hindrance to his development. If he matures and figures things out, the sky is the limit for this young man.

Surprise players

2010 SG Jordan McRae, 6-5, 175 pounds
(Midway, GA/Liberty County), committed to Tennessee

McRae was easily one of the standouts, but he is listed as the top surprise player because of his consistent play on both ends of the floor throughout the event. He is blossoming into one of the elite pure scorers in the country with his ability to score in transition or in the half court. The kid knows where the basket is and is developing into a high-level offensive player. The future Tennessee Volunteer is a long, fluid athlete with some bounce that has become more astute at how to attack a defense. He had some standout games where he used screens well and showed good body control. Despite his thin frame can take contact and finish. He showed a floater in the lane when the defense collapsed. He is active on the offensive glass with a quick second jump. He loses his focus at times, which detracts greatly from his game. He needs to get a higher release point on his free throw, especially late in games. This kid has tremendous potential, but he needs to fill out and gain some strength to take the physical play in the SEC.

2010 SG Trey Zeigler, 6-5, 190 pounds
(Mt. Pleasant, MI)

Zeigler was one of the surprises at this event because of his point guard play in the absence of Brandon Knight, who was out with an injury. Even though Ziegler has shown solid passing ability from the shooting guard position, it was nice to see his adaptability to running a team as a point guard in a tough situation. He has a good looking basketball body and he is a long athlete with some bounce that plays with a nice a pace. He uses ball screens well and showed a nice pull-up jumper off the ball screen. He understands how to post a guard and can make a play from the block area for himself or a teammate. He has a nice stroke from the perimeter and was very effective in transition attacking the rim or getting into the paint and finding an open teammate. He showed he could defend a point, while using his size and length as a big advantage. He will play off the ball in college, but it was nice to see that he can handle running a team when pressed into duty.

2010 SF Jason Morris, 6-5, 175 pounds
(Hephzibah, GA/The Hotchkiss School)

The Georgia native's stock has continued to rise and he has turned heads with his outstanding play this spring and summer. Morris is a high-octane athlete who is a glue guy for his team. He is a talented all-around player that is a big-time finisher in transition. He gives great effort on the defensive end, plays unselfishly and he is not afraid to get in the trenches and do some of the dirty work. Most of his points are off the dribble or in transition, but his perimeter shot is improving. He has outstanding body control and is terrific around the basket. He's an explosive jumper and an active rebounder, especially on the offensive boards. He also has the ability to defensively rebound the ball and start the break. He can become a shutdown defender that can guard multiple positions with his length and quickness.

2010 PG Brady Heslip, 6-2, 175 pounds
(Burlington, ON (Can)/ North American Academy)

Heslip has burst onto the recruiting scene with his tough, hard-nosed play and his ability to shoot the basketball. He has a great stroke from deep and plays with a great pace and confidence. On Team Canada, he played off the ball because of Joseph, but showed his point guard skills when he got the opportunity. He understands how to play and is a high-percentage decision maker. He has a good handle and is able to get by his defender with deceptive quickness. He moves well without the ball with the ability to use and read screens. He does a nice job spacing off the ball in transition or off penetration and he showed a solid mid-range game after lifting his defender with a shot fake and can make a floater over the bigs. This kid has savvy and leadership qualities that should make him an asset to any program.

2011 C Marshall Plumlee, 6-11, 200 pounds
(Warsaw, IN/Christ School)

Plumlee is focused, intense, never takes a play off and is always thinking a move ahead. He is relentless, has a great attitude, gives consistent effort and has a little nasty in him. He is the kind of kid you love to coach because he will continue to get better for years to come due to his work ethic. Plumlee takes practice seriously, his skill level is coming along fine and he is developing into more of an offensive threat with his back to the basket. He can face up and knock it down from 15-to-17 feet and is a good passer from the perimeter. He loves to impact the game with his rebounding and defensive ability. With two years to develop at the high school level, he has a chance to be the best Plumlee yet.

Notes

Justin Martin (Indianapolis, IN/Lawrence North) -- Consistentlymade open jump shots and was a steady producer for the US 2010 Team. Martin can hurt you in a lot of different ways because he can knock down a three and attack off the dribble in transition, while defending and rebounding his position.

Tyler Lamb (Santa Ana, CA/Mater Dei, Committed: UCLA) -- Showed what he has shown all spring and summer. He is highly-skilled, fundamentally sound player that plays under control. He can stick the deep three or pull-up jumper and he has a college-ready game.

Josh Smith (Covington, WA/Kentwood) -- He has got to learn how to play harder consistently and play with passion. However, when he's too aggressive, a foul is called. This is the fate of many high school bigs. He has great hands, but does not have a lot of lift. He uses his body well to shield his defender. He also shows a decent touch from the charity stripe.

Nate Lubick (Southborough, MA/St. Mark's School, Committed: Georgetown) -- He's fundamentally sound, effort guy that knows how to post and how to play away from the basket as a face-up 4. He's an explosive jumper with a little nasty streak in him that can finish.

Ryan Harrow (Marietta, GA/Walton, Committed: NC State) -- He's a small, thin point guard that can shoot it. He is quick with the ball and is a good decision maker that can make a runner in the lane.

Trae Golden (Powder Springs, GA/McEachern) -- He has had a productive summer, but injured his ankle on the first day of camp and spent the remainder of the week -- until the championship game -- in a protective boot on crutches. The compact scoring guard consistently shoots it from deep and plays with a high level of confidence. When the game is on the line, he wants the ball.

Mike LaPlante has spent nearly 20 years coaching college basketball. Most recently, he was the head coach at Jacksonville State University.