SUWANNEE, Ga. -- The second session of the 2016 Adidas Gauntlet tour came to the greater Atlanta area and showcased a deep, talented crop of 2018 talent.
Langford leads sophomore surge
ESPN 25 guard Romeo Langford was nothing short of sensational this weekend. At 6-foot-4, he is a high-level athlete with a terrific wingspan. His physical tools don’t initially jump out, but he is the total package. He has a skill-set and the type of effortless smoothness that just can’t be taught. He is also a truly elite perimeter rebounder.
From a recruiting perspective, things have taken off in the last week with offers from Duke, Kansas and Kentucky rolling in. John Calipari came to Atlanta for one game only – Langford’s. Langford didn’t disappoint, putting up 20 points and 11 rebounds. He was even better later that night, putting up 29 and 10 in a one-on-one matchup with fellow ESPN 25 product, and early North Carolina pledge, Rechon Black.
Zion Williamson, No. 17 in the ESPN 25, also had a nice weekend. Williamson is an athletic southpaw who plays with both explosive athleticism and sheer power. He was a man among boys for long stretches this weekend, despite the fact that he was going up against guys sometimes two and three years his senior. Texas State and Iowa State are his most recent offers but with Kentucky, North Carolina and others now following closely, things should be heating up.
Making a point
With limited point guard depth atop the 2017 class, North Carolina also appeared to be the latest blue blood after Makai Ashton-Langford. The ESPN 60 product showed his full gamut of playmaking tools -- good size and athleticism, end-to-end speed with the ball, a shifty handle and one of the best finishing touches around. Where he can potentially differentiate himself from other top point guards in the class though is with his ability to defend.
Any perceived lack of star power in the 2017 class only created a chance for guards Greg Bowie and Nick Weatherspoon to fill that void. Bowie is part of a terrific backcourt, teaming with highly talented 6-4 sophomore combo-guard Quentin Grimes. While Grimes is already being widely pursued at the high-major level, Bowie has not reach that level. Expect that to change shortly as he has been among the Gauntlet leaders in scoring, assists and steals throughout the last two weeks.
Weatherspoon was one of the most impressive scorers this weekend, getting incredibly hot in various stretches and being virtually un-guardable at times. While he’s a scorer first and foremost, he recognizes when he draws multiple defenders and typically makes the appropriate pass and is another good rebounding guard. The younger brother of Mississippi State’s Quinndary Weatherspoon, Nick was followed by Ben Howland this weekend as well as Iowa State’s Steve Prohm and others.
One for the future
Matthew Hurt, a 6-9 freshman forward from Minnesota, was a big draw all weekend. Howland, Tom Crean and Roy Williams were particularly interested. With a great combination of size, skill and basketball acumen, Hurt is loaded with upside. His frame still needs to fill out but he’s not passive through contact and looks to rise up at the rim at every available opportunity.