The 2017 Adidas Nations came to an end this weekend in Houston, which featured some of the most talented under-19 prospects around the world. Top talent from the United States, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and Latin America were represented, with 137 prospects in attendance ranging from 14 to 23 years old.
The event is led by current NBA assistant coaches, who also participate and help lead the 5-on-5 competition, skill sessions and video analysis portions of the camp. With more than 50 NBA scouts and other NBA personnel in attendance, there was a lot of opportunity for the 36 college counselors invited to the event to impress — as well as the talented high school prospects.
Among the group of college counselors, who were the top prospects performing at the 2017 Adidas Nations?
Honorable mention: Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova; Trevon Bluiett, SG/SF, Xavier; De’Anthony Melton, PG/SG, USC; V.J. King, SF, Louisville; Markis McDuffie, SF, Wichita State; Aubrey Dawkins, SG/SF, Central Florida; Dewan Huell, PF/C, Miami; Joshua Langford, SG, Michigan State; Alize Johnson, SF/PF, Missouri State; Zach Smith, SF/PF, Texas Tech; Anas Mahmoud, C, Louisville; Yante Maten, PF, Georgia.
BONUS: Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. 7-0, 210, PF/C, Baylor senior
With the departure of Johnathan Motley from Baylor’s frontcourt, Lual-Acuil will be primed for a breakout season as a two-way big man with shot-blocking and stretch potential. He has great size and length with a 7-3 wingspan, and he moves like a guard. Lual-Acuil still needs to add plenty of weight and gain more consistency from deep (33.3 percent on limited attempts), but the talent is there for him to be a second-round pick in 2018.
5. Tyus Battle, 6-6, 200, SG, Syracuse sophomore
Battle had a solid, under-the-radar freshman campaign for the Orange, providing a steady dose of 3-point shooting (36.6 3P%) and playmaking ability while playing 30 minutes per night as the team’s third-leading scorer. He should be primed for a breakout sophomore season from a scoring and playmaking standpoint, while using his size and length (at least a 6-8 wingspan) to be a nuisance on the defensive side of the ball in Syracuse’ zone defense.
Battle can struggle as a finisher and lacks advanced ballhandling skills to get where he wants on the floor, often settling for pull-up jump shots. He has just average athletic ability, which could limit his potential as a playmaker at the next level. With a breakout sophomore season, expect Battle to be in the late first-round pick in 2018.
4. Justin Jackson, 6-7, 230, SF/PF, Maryland sophomore
Jackson flirted with leaving for the NBA after a promising freshman year before opting to return to try to up his stock. Jackson is one of the more intriguing prospects in college basketball with his inside-out game (43.8 3P%) paired with the length (7-3.25 wingspan) and ball skills needed to thrive as a modern-day stretch 4. He has great two-way potential with the ability to guard multiple positions while adding value as a rebounder and floor spacer.
Jackson needs to improve his ability to shoot off the dribble and at the rim, where he lacks a degree of explosiveness to finish. He isn’t much of a passer at this stage of development, and can get in trouble with his decision-making at times. Jackson was a bit inconsistent as a freshmen, and will need to bring his game every night with a bigger role as a sophomore. With a big season, Jackson could be a late first-round pick in 2018.
3. Bruce Brown, 6-5, 190, SG, Miami sophomore
Brown is an explosive shooting guard with good size, length and ballhandling ability. He’s a force in the pick-and-roll with the speed and quickness that allow him to get to where he wants on the floor. He has a decent jump shot (34.7 3P%) with potential for growth and is a good passer with some point guard skills. Defensively, he has the physical (6-8.5 wingspan) and athletic tools to develop into a plus defender.
Brown is still fairly raw offensively at this point, and has to improve as a finisher at the rim and his ability to shoot off the dribble. He can be turnover prone, so working on his decision-making will be important if he’ll be asked to make plays at the next level. Brown is a bit older than his peers, so it’s likely this next season will be his last. He has a chance to be a lottery pick if he can have a big season with the Hurricanes in a featured role.
2. Robert Williams, 6-9, 235, PF/C, Texas A&M sophomore
Williams was arguably the most talented prospect to return to school for his sophomore season, as many projected Williams to be drafted in the top-half of the 2017 lottery. Williams is an athletic, long and talented two-way big man with a blossoming skill set offensively and plenty of room for growth. With a 7-4 wingspan and good mobility, Williams has plus tools with great upside defensively. He shows pick-and-pop potential, knocking down a promising 41.1 percent on 2-point jump shots, per Hoop-Math.com:
Rob Williams has shown a little bit of everything so far – alters everything at the rim, spot three, playmaking, rebounding. Elite prospect.
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) August 4, 2017
Williams still has some growth to do on offense as he tries to extend his range out to 3-point range, shooting just 11.1 percent as a freshman on limited attempts. He’ll need to work on his passing and playmaking as a big man, not showing much vision at this point of his career. Williams will need to improve his free-throw shooting to get crunch-time minutes (59.0 percent last year). With some improvement offensively, Williams has a chance to be the first sophomore drafted in 2018.
1. Michael Porter Jr., 6-10, 220, SF/PF, Missouri freshman
Porter was by far the biggest name in attendance for scouts and NBA personnel, as he’s widely considered a favorite for the top pick in 2018. Porter has a huge ceiling with his guard skills, size and shooting ability. He’s a mismatch nightmare with a quick release off the dribble and the size to get it off over smaller opponents. Porter is a great athlete who can finish at the rim with authority and makes him an effective rebounder as well:
Porter has a slight frame that will need to add some strength to withstand the physicality at the next level. While standing 6-10, he lacks a degree of length for an elite prospect with just a 7-0 wingspan — limiting his two-way upside a bit for the NBA level. Porter isn’t the most unselfish passer or playmaker, so it’ll be interesting to see how his game translates as a facilitator at the college level.
Overall, there’s a lot of nitpicking to do with Porter given his overall ceiling and offensive skill level. He should have a great season with Missouri and be the likely No. 1 pick in 2018.
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