10 College Basketball Players Who've Raised Their Stock This Summer
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The summer months are a mostly quiet time for collegians. They don't have AAU tournaments with critical eyes watching their every moves like during their prep days.
We don't hear quite as much about college guys, but some were out improving their stock as counselors at the shoe camps or participants in international competition.
These are 10 players who stood out. Warning to the rest of the country: It has been a good summer for the champs.
Aaron Gordon, Arizona
We didn't exactly find out what Aaron Gordon will do in a structured system during the U-19 World Championship. Most of Gordon's production came from hanging around the rim and getting out in transition. But man did he produce, and my oh my is he athletic.
Gordon averaged team bests 12.6 points and 6.2 rebounds in only 18.8 minutes per game for the gold medalists. His highlights were unreal. It's obvious he has the athletic ability to make a major impact at Arizona this year, and his performance this summer suggests he'll be the star for Sean Miller's squad.
Doug McDermott, Creighton
Doug McDermott's decision to return to school is looking wise. McDermott spent the summer months proving that he can play at the next level.
First, he was solid in the World University Games, leading the U.S. team with 14 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. McDermott also shot 40 percent from three for the tournament. The Americans disappointed with a ninth-place finish, but McDermott was a bright spot.
McDermott played well enough in that tourney to get invited to the Team USA mini camp last month in Las Vegas. An NBA executive told Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com that McDermott "helped himself significantly," and another exec told Goodman that McDermott was arguably the best shooter in the gym the final two days of the mini camp.
Montrezl Harrell, Louisville
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Most prognosticators have Kentucky as the preseason No. 1. I'm one of the few who has gone with Louisville. I'm feeling better about that pick after watching Montrezl Harrell during the U-19 World Championship.
All Louisville really needs from Harrell is for him to be a good finisher and a presence on the defensive end. He was that and more at the U-19s, showing off some nice post moves during the tournament. Harrell, who started at center, averaged 10.6 points (third on the team) and led the U.S. with 10 blocks. He was at his best in the championship game, finishing with 17 points, four blocks and four rebounds.
Harrell also got good reviews at the Adidas Nations, where he hyper-extended his knee but will only miss three weeks, Rick Pitino told Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. Harrell should be ready to take over for Gorgui Dieng once the season begins, and his summer performance suggests he could be an upgrade on the offensive end.
Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette
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If you watched the U.S. U-19 team this summer, you probably had this reaction: Who in the heck is Elfrid Payton?
Payton is a 6'4" point guard for Louisiana-Lafayette. and he was a surprise to even make the U.S. team. Then he played his way into a starting role.
Payton put up good numbers last season—15.9 points, 5.5 assists and 80 steals—but his team went 13-20, which is why few have ever heard of him. Now he has our attention. We'll see if he can turn his impressive summer performance into an improved season for the Ragin' Cajuns.
Joel Embiid, Kansas
It's easy for the other Kansas freshmen to get overlooked because of Andrew Wiggins. College coaches and scouts are not falling into that trap.
Seven-footer Joel Embiid was at the Adidas Nations camp, and his play vaulted him into the No. 7 spot in NBADraft.net's 2014 mock draft.
Rick Pitino also had some high praise for Embiid, via Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com, saying "I think Kansas could have the No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the draft with [Andrew] Wiggins and Embiid. [Embiid] does everything."
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
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It's not that Marcus Smart showed off something new that we didn't know he had before. Smart had a solid summer. He led the U-19 team to a second straight gold medal and then got an invite to the Team USA mini camp.
Smart then had the U.S. coaches say more nice things about him. Basically, every time Smart goes in the gym, the compliments keep getting nicer and he keeps making an impact.
Russ Smith, Louisville
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The chance Russ Smith took by returning to school for his senior season is that it gives more time for scouts and critics to poke holes in his game. But Smith's summer performance suggests he's going to keep producing, and he might just be improving.
Smith got rave reviews at the Adidas Nations camp, where he led his team of counselors to the title, scoring 23 points on 16 shots in the title game, according to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com.
Smith also put up big numbers during a three-game tournament overseas in the Four Nations Cup. Playing for a team of college all-stars, Smith led the team with 23 points, 4.8 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game (via cardchronicle.com).
Wayne Selden, Kansas
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If you were to walk into the gym at Kansas without knowing anything and before seeing Andrew Wiggins jump, you'd probably guess Wayne Selden was the best player on the roster.
Selden, at 6'5", is that cut. He does not look like a freshman. He's also pleased the Kansas coaches this summer. Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports Netword was told that Selden was KU's most consistent player through summer workouts.
Selden then went to the Adidas Nations camp and teamed with Russ Smith to win the championship for the counselors. He impressed DraftExpress.com's Jonathon Givony, and NBADraft.net has him as the fifth pick in its 2014 mock.
Luke Hancock, Louisville
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If you thought Luke Hancock's Final Four performance was a flash in the pan, think again. It was more like a preview of what should be a solid senior season.
Hancock joined Doug McDermott as one of the few bright spots for the U.S. team at the World University Games. He averaged 10.8 points (second on the team to McDermott) and shot 42.1 percent from deep, even more impressive considering he played after his father lost his battle with cancer in late June.
Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
Without Andrew Wiggins and with high school big man Trey Lyles getting hurt in the tournament, Canada's U-19 team didn't quite have enough talent to make a run this summer.
Because the Canadians were lacking in talent, Syracuse incoming point guard Tyler Ennis was able to dominate the ball. That wasn't such a bad thing.
Ennis showed off a nice handle and an ability to get to the rim. He averaged 20.7 points per game and had 25 assists in nine games.
His coach, Roy Rana, told ESPN's Fran Fraschilla:
He was tremendous. Not only by his on-court production but everything he does off the court. His leadership skills really advanced to another level. That's what you want in a point guard. He's ideal. He facilitates when he needs to, he can score and he did everything for this team. We're nothing but overjoyed with his performance and his future potential.