Counting down the 2012 adidas Invitational
A breakdown of the teams and players to watch in Indianapolis, by the numbers
The 2012 adidas Invitational, one of the summer’s premiere events, is finally upon us, with action tipping off tomorrow in Indianapolis, Ind. Ranked teams from around the country, as well as a few sleepers, are making their way to Indy with the hopes of grabbing the attention of the nation by emerging from a field of hundreds to be crowned champion.
5 teams to watch:
Florida Elite: It was a tumultuous week for Florida Elite, formerly the Florida Rams, but they emerge with some key players still with the team. Though Brannen Greene is now with the Atlanta Celtics, Chris Walker is staying put and will try to lead his team through some tough times to a championship. The road won’t be easy however, with New Orleans Elite, Urban DFW Elite and Garner Road all in their Super Pool.
Garner Road: Garner Road comes into the tournament as one of the favorites, and with the duo of Isaiah Hicks and Anton Gill, it’s pretty clear why. They’ve already beaten Dream Vision this year, who is another favorite, and will look to avenge an earlier loss to the then-Florida Rams.
Eric Gordon All-Stars: The Eric-Gordon All-Stars started the year pretty highly ranked with an astounding level of talent. Though Collin Hartman, Basil Smotherman, VJ Beachem and Zak Irvin are all excellent players, this team has yet to prove itself against the best competition. They’ll have a chance to do that this week, as they are in a pool with the Atlanta Celtics and sleeper possibility Mass Rivals.
Dream Vision: Dream Vision comes into adidas as arguably the best west coast team in the country, led by Rashad Muhammad and Stephen Domingo. Unlike the other teams near the top of our rankings, however, they are not in a brutal pool. They’ll have to watch out for a good Michigan Mustangs team, but other than that, they should be able to come out of Pool 4 with minimal damage.
Team Nashville: Team Nashville first got our attention by winning Bob Gibbons and Wallace Prather, and they’ll have a chance to win another elite event this week. Minnesota Pump N Run will be their biggest challenge in Pool 8, but like Dream Vision, they should be favorites to win their pool. Cornelius Elder is a player to watch for Team Nashville.
4 players to watch:
Brannen Greene (Atlanta Celtics): Greene will be an interesting player to watch simply because he is now part of the Atlanta Celtics, not Florida Elite. The Kansas commit is originally from Georgia and will look to lead the Celtics to a championship and a sure-fire spot in our rankings.
Kasey Hill (Florida Elite): The 6’1’’ guard is sticking with Florida Elite and will be relied on heavily to help fill Greene’s shoes. The Montverde product has committed to Florida and is a true point guard with scoring prowess. His team gets started Wednesday at 5 p.m. against Urban DFW Elite.
Isaiah Hicks (Garner Road): Hicks, Garner Road’s top player, has been one of the keys to the Bulldogs’ success so far this summer. The future North Carolina Tar Heel also participated in the prestigious Pangos All-American Camp and is one of our Five-Star Rated players. The 6’8’’ forward is a rising senior at Webb High School.
Jordan Bell (Compton Magic): Bell was listed as one of our preseason summer breakout players, and he hopes to show the world why this week. The forward from Long Beach Poly can rebound and block shots, making him a force on the defensive end. Bell has offers from high majors, including Alabama and Oregon.
Compton Magic: The Compton Magic won’t have an easy time getting by New Heights, Ohio Basketball Club and the Dallas Mustangs in Pool 5 (a Super Pool), but if they can, this team has something to prove. Bell and Co. started the year in our power rankings, but quickly fell out. A strong tournament this week and they’re right back in the discussion.
Michigan Mustangs: The Michigan Mustangs have been ranked for a while, but often go overlooked. They’ll be tested right away with a pool play pairing with Dream Vision — not exactly an easy return to the court after enjoying a few weeks off.
Mass Rivals: Mass Rivals is one of New England’s best teams, mainly because they are led by Noah Vonleh, one of the best 2014 forwards in the country. Rivals also has two talented players in Kaleb Joseph and Matt Cimino, so don’t be surprised if they make some noise at adidas.
2 Games to watch:
Florida Elite vs. Garner Road (Thurs. 1:15 p.m.): These two teams have been neck-and-neck in the rankings for weeks now, and Florida Elite won the first matchup between the two earlier this year. Garner Road, however, is out for revenge and this time Florida Elite will not have Brannen Greene. Both of these teams can win the entire tournament, so a pool play matchup between the two is surely a treat.
Atlanta Celtics vs. Eric Gordon All-Stars (Thurs. 8:45 p.m.): An underperforming Eric Gordon All-Stars team will get a chance to rebound against an Atlanta Celtics team looking to climb back into the national picture. With these two teams as the clear best in Pool 2, the winner of this game might be the pool winner.
1 Championship Prediction:
Garner Road: Garner Road has all the pieces to win the adidas Invitational (though they are not the only team that could say that). They have the talent (Hicks, Gill), certainly, and they have proven themselves so far this season. They’ve already beaten Dream Vision and Florida Elite will not be at full strength, clearing the way for the team from North Carolina to win it all.
Notes from the younger age groups:
16U: Pools 41 and 42 are the most intriguing, with 41 holding the Compton Magic, Louisville Magic and Florida Elite. 42, meanwhile, has the Atlanta Celtics, Dream Vision and Eric Gordon All-Stars.
15U: Indiana Elite, Eric Gordon and the Compton Magic might be the favorites, but don’t count out Team Bolt and CIA Bounce — two quality 15U teams. Eric Gordon has given Indy Elite its only loss of the year, so that would be an intriguing matchup if it were to happen.
14U: No. 1 Dunk Dog goes into the tournament as the clear favorite. Their pool includes the Dallas Mustangs, Fieldhouse Elite Blazers Orange and Indy Thunder, all of which will be looking to upset the nation’s best team.