Rawle Alkins and other prep basketball stars shine at 2015 adidas Nations

August 4, 2015

Rawle Alkins / Photo Credit: adidas
Norwalk, Calif. -- Traditionally a last stop on the long summer recruiting season, the adidas Nations camp never disappoints. It is well run, with plenty of structure, pride, and intensity, and by dividing the teams based on geography and graduation class, the players feel a natural sense of comradery, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

That pride was clearly on display for teams Africa, Canada, and Latin America, as they were able to compete very well, pushing the more talented -- on paper, at least -- United States teams.

The intensity of the competition did bring some aches and pains, as Kyle Guy and Dennis Smith went down with injuries. Guy, a Virginia commit, sprained his ankle, although doctors said there were no fractures. Smith also received good news, as his left knee now has full range of motion, and he will not appear to lose any extended time on the court.

In the end, however, the best team won, as Team Rose, comprised entirely of players ranked in the top 40 of the 2016 class, just had too much depth, wearing down their opponents over the 40 minutes of each game. Even the lowest ranked player on Team Rose, number 40 (all rankings are from Rivals.com) Javin DeLaurier, who starts for the team, seemed to be ranked ten spots lower than what he had shown this summer.

MVP Rawle Alkins, who currently is ranked at #15, clearly was the best performer in the camp.

With a body good enough to play both shooting guard and small forward, Alkins' versatility and energy are what set him apart from the rest of the competition. As he has shown throughout the summer, he outworked his opponent. In the semifinal, he defended Hamidou Diallo (#19, class of 2017) as well as anybody in the camp.  When his team needed stops late in the fourth quarter, Alkins made sure Diallo could not generate enough offense to keep pace with Team Rose.

As for the offensive side, Alkins was very efficient. He did not take too many shots, but averaged 21.8 ppg on 54.5% shooting, and 35.% shooting from the three-point line.  Alkins drained 6 of 8 three pointers in the final, including several from well beyond the arc.

Both Alkins and Diallo should be moving up into the top 10 by the next set of rankings, with Alkins going perhaps as high as #9, and Diallo reaching #8.

Alkins attends New York's Christ the King High School, the same high school as former NBA players Lamar Odom and Speedy Claxton. Alkins' game reminds one of another New York City product however, specifically Lance Stephenson. Both have similar body types and game, and refuse to back down from a challenge. Moreover, Alkins appears to be a very coachable player, and seems well liked by his teammates.

This camp also hosted the top four point guards in the class of 2016: #4 Dennis Smith Jr., #5 Lonzo Ball, #8 Kobi Simmons, and #10 Frank Jackson.

Dennis Smith looked like the best of the bunch because he does everything well. If you want a floor general, he can do that probably just as well as Frank Jackson. When Smith was paired with Terrence Ferguson, the number two shooting guard in country, the two seemed to have a great rapport together, executing back door alley-oops time after time.

Dennis Smith / Photo Credit: adidas
If speed and athleticism are needed, then Smith and Kobi Simmons are at the top of this group. On one impressive play, Smith got past his defender and went up for a spectacular dunk while being fouled by a big man, only to have the ball bounce off the back of the rim.  Smith also can match Lonzo Ball in playmaking ability and creativity.

UCLA-commit Ball also proved worthy of his lofty rankings by dominating the game in his own way. His unorthodox shooting technique and his way of approaching the game allows him to outsmart his defender in a number of ways. Defensively, Ball also got into the passing lanes with regularity, leading to fastbreak opportunities.

Jackson, a very cerebral player, is probably going to make a choice between Duke and Stanford. He analyzes the court very well, and almost always take what the defense gives him. His shot is also technically sound.

Simmons is also just as good as the other three. He is perhaps best-suited for an uptempo team, such as Kentucky, one of the schools in the running to sign him. Simmons ran Team Rose to perfection, getting the ball to the right players quickly. He may not be capable of being the focal point of an offense, but his influence is felt in the game.

As for the big men, nobody was as forceful as #7 Edrice Adebayo, as his wide shoulders made him as formidable as Dwight Howard.  Adebayo can get to any loose balls and creates additional opportunities for his team. His offensive skills are good enough at this point, and his ceiling is very high.

Mamadi Diakite, #30, who just committed to the University of Virginia, has all the intangibles that coaches seek. His defense, leadership, intelligence, and developing offensive game should afford him plenty of early playing time at the next level, as he will be an ideal player for coach Tony Bennett.

Wenyen Gabriel, ranked at 84, is another intriguing prospect. Although he is slight of build, Gabriel can jump with any big men out there. On defense, he held his own, even when guarding Adebayo. On a number of occasions he was able to take charges and create turnovers.

Other players of note were Mari Kegler, Javin DeLaurier, and Udoka Azubuike. Azubuike, who has seen his ranking slide the past few months, has a strong frame, but needs to show more quickness while making plays in traffic.

Now the recruiting dominoes will start to fall as August comes to an end. Just as Diakite committed recently, many others will follow suit as the evaluation period concludes.

By Christian Siagian
Contributing Writer for TheDailySportsHerald.com

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