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August 1, 2012

Wiggins easily takes home summer MVP

WHAT WE LEARNED: Orlando AAU

The month of July has come and gone. Just as in every summer, there were movers and shakers who will impact the rankings. Then there were the lesser regarded guys who came out of nowhere to make their move. With that in mind, we take a look back at the month of July.

All-July team

MVP: Could there be any other choice than Andrew Wiggins for the player of the summer? The 6-foot-7 wing from the class of 2014 was the most dominant force at both the LeBron James Skills Academy and the Nike Peach Jam. Whether he stays in the class of 2014 or moves to 2013, he is the top player in high school ball.

Julius Randle: The 6-foot-9 Texan was at his best for most of the month of July. There is a tendency for him to rely too much on attacking off the dribble, but the big, strong post player is a rebounding machine and super productive.

Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison: The twins from Houston were the best duo of the month. They didn't just beat opponents, they tended to break the spirit and will of those who got in their way. The 6-foot-5 rising seniors were a dominant backcourt all month, taking turns scoring and running the show while decimating pretty much anybody in their way.

Isaac Hamilton: Frankly, in the month of June the 6-foot-4 shooting guard would have fallen into a biggest disappointments category. The scoring machine didn't seem at all himself during stops at the Pangos All-American and NBPA Top 100 Camps. The Californian was back in a major way during the month of July and nobody in the country scored the ball better than the sharpshooter.

Tyus Jones: The rising junior point guard put on one of the best displays of running the show we have ever seen at the Peach Jam. Before that, he helped lead the USA to gold in the 17-and-under world championships. He scores, he dishes and he makes everybody around him better.

All-July, not ranked prior to the month

Wesley Clark: The point guard from Michigan had been a bit overshadowed by ranked teammates James Young and E.C. Matthews prior to July. That changed during July as Clark was easily one of the month's breakout performers.

Cornelius Elder: A four-star prospect in football, Elder would prefer to play college basketball and he's got the heart of a champion. A leader and winner, Elder uses toughness and skill to make things happen.

Frank Mason: Had he made it to Towson, he likely would have been the biggest steal of the 2012 recruiting class. Now the 5-foot-11 bulldog is headed to prep school and will likely end up on the high-major level. Pound for pound, there is not a tougher player in the country.

Marcus Allen: Based on his strong July, the 6-foot-2 combo guard from Las Vegas is going to merit heavy consideration for the 2013 Rivals150. He's versatile, talented, athletic and shows a high basketball IQ.

Calvin Hermanson: The southpaw wing from Oregon has been on the cusp of breaking into the rankings for some time now. After his performance at the Super 64, it will be tough to keep the 6-foot-5 rising senior out. He can shoot, he can create his shot and he plays with tons of toughness.

Mamadou Ndiaye: The biggest player in the country and one of the most difficult to scout because he's so unique. But Ndiaye has some skill and desire to go along with his 7-foot-5 size. When given the opportunity to set up, he makes an impact on both ends of the floor.

Best game

This one is kind of a no-brainer, but the CIA Bounce and Wiggins taking down Randle and the Team Texas Titans had to be the game of the summer. The game featured a big-time performance from Wiggins, a valiant effort from Randle late after a slow start and commanding performances from Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Matt Jones. It didn't hurt that the game went to overtime and the momentum turned several times before the CIA Bounce finally took home a hard-earned victory.

Strangest moment

If you cover summer ball long enough, you learn that you can always expect the unexpected. That's what happened when the Compton Magic and Urban DFW locked up during a playoff game at the Super 64. With emotions running high, a minor scuffle broke out with less than five minutes to go. By the time the refs had settled things, every player from each bench had been ejected and the two initial on-floor combatants had been tossed. As a result, the final minutes of the game served as a four-on-four contest won by Urban DFW.

Final thought

The NCAA made a well-intentioned move during the spring/summer of 2012 to change the recruiting calendar. Looking back, some of it worked and some of it didn't. The good is that coaches can now get out for a few weekends in April to see prospects play with their grassroots teams at events. It was also a great idea to cut down the two 10-day periods in July.

However, as it turns out, replacing them with three 96-hour live periods could still use some tweaking. The three 5 p.m. Wednesday to 5p.m. Sunday periods were mostly booed by players, coaches and event organizers because of the drain of travel and scheduling issues.

The NCAA deserves credit for making the changes for 2012 and hopefully it will continue to make changes. After talking with several players and coaches, my suggestion would be that the NCAA also open up a weekend in May (Memorial Day seems like an easy pick) and then cut down to two periods (with Wednesday being live the entire day, not just starting at 5 p.m.) during July.



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