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August 4, 2014
Adidas Nations Sunday: Smith goes big
GARDEN GROVE, Calif. -- Currently ranked as the top point guard in the class of 2016, five-star prospect Dennis Smith looked the part on Sunday. The rising junior's game exploded during a morning game and set the tone for Rivals.com's final day in Southern California.
Smith goes big on Sunday
The No. 5 ranked player in the class of 2016, 6-foot-2 point guard Dennis Smith had his entire arsenal on display during Sunday action at the Adidas Nations camp.
Smith's Team Lillard 2016 squad put a serious beatdown on Team Howard 2015, and he led the way scoring 28 points on 13-of-14 field goal shooting and grabbing five rebounds in a 118-72 win.
Easily one of the most physically gifted players at any position, Smith is a hard-charging athlete whose goal is to get to the rim as often as possible. With good size, strength and his explosive athleticism, he is a high-level finisher in the lane and fits the mold of a scoring point guard.
While many other players looked like they were out of energy and struggling to find motivation, Smith looked as fresh as ever.
"If you love to play basketball you will find the energy," Smith said. "It's been real nice out here at Adidas Nations, on and off the court."
Relatively unknown outside of his home state entering the grassroots circuit, Smith backed up a monster sophomore season with a big spring and summer. He sees more eyeballs watching him, but that doesn't change his approach at all.
"There has been an increase in attention," said Smith. "It doesn't change the way I act at all. I have to bring my 'A' game every time, but it was always like that for me."
More of a streaky shooter from deep than a pure jump shooter, Smith is constantly working on his jump shooting. But, he knows where his strength is.
"I'm a lot more athletic than most of the point guards in my class, any class really," said Smith. "That's an advantage for me and now I'm working on getting bigger and adding more weight."
On Sunday, Smith rattled off Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State, Memphis and Florida as programs showing him a lot of attention. All but Memphis have offered at this point, and Smith says he is in no hurry to make a decision.
With no planned unofficial visits on the horizon, Smith is looking forward to getting home and getting some rest. When it does come time to make a college choice, playing style will be a big factor.
"I'm going to go with whatever is the best fit for my game," said Smith. "I fit best in an up-tempo offense."
More Sunday notables
When Carlton Bragg brings his focus and full attention to the game, it is awfully hard to argue with his five-star status and No. 9 ranking in the class of 2015. The issue is that sometimes the 6-foot-9 power forward can drift and not go all out. On Sunday morning he was pretty serious and played his best ball of the weekend. His Team Rose 2015 squad's game against Team Wall 2016 was called at halftime as both teams were getting hit by the injury bug, but Bragg was impressing. He ran the floor, got on the glass and used his combination of skill, size and athleticism to have his way with the younger players around the rim. Bragg confirmed that he is planning to visit Kansas for their Midnight in the Phog festivities but he's yet to lock in any other visits.
Also playing his best ball of the weekend was class of 2016 five-star Thon Maker. When Maker plays his best, he gets active on the glass and then sprints from block to block. He protects the rim, can step out and make some jumpers and is capable of making some plays off the dribble. What is most important is that he seems to be embracing playing like a true big man more and more. Maker plans to visit UCLA later this week and is looking into late summer visits to Kentucky and Indiana.
It was a solid weekend for 2016 four-star combo guard Eron Gordon. A sturdy and tough product of Indiana, Gordon made it a priority to attack the rim and seek out low-degree-of-difficulty shots. He can take a bump without getting knocked off track and generally uses a low to the ground dribble that is tough for defenders to pick.
Mark it down as a good weekend overall for Justin Simon. The five-star guard headed to Arizona is as versatile a backcourt player as there is in the class of 2015. He can guard the point guard, shooting guard or a small forward and can play stretches at all of those positions offensively. In Garden Grove, Simon looked to be making a real effort to get to the basket and to use his athleticism and strength to his advantage.
Headed to Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College for a couple of years, Keanu Pinder is somebody that Rivals.com is going to have to evaluate for potential four-star status as a junior college prospect. At 6-foot-9, he is a fine athlete who can run, hits the glass and tries to dunk everything around the rim. He doesn't look to be overly skilled just yet, but he has a body to build on and if his motor stays one that runs high, it bodes well for the Nebraska commitment's future.
Eric Bossi is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.