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June 23, 2014

NBPA Top 100: What we learned

THE RIVALS150: Class of 2014 | 2015 | 2016

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The 2014 NBPA Top 100 Camp was a successful one. Before moving on we'll take one final look at what we learned from camp. Looking ahead to updating the 2015 Rivals150 later this week, what we learned about Ben Simmons was probably most important.

Simmons case for No. 1 may be the best

For much of the spring, we have been writing about how Malik Newman and Ben Simmons have been competing for the No. 1 spot in the class of 2015. More recently, Jaylen Brown has worked his way into the conversation as well. Over the weekend, Simmons put together a very convincing argument as to why the No. 1 spot should be his with his play at NBPA.

At the very minimum the future LSU Tiger is ranked too low at No. 5 in 2015 and it is looking like he has the inside track to take over the top spot when rankings are updated on Thursday.

Skilled, tough, efficient and consistent. Anything you would like a four man to be able to do, Simmons seems willing and able. He scores the ball with either hand around the rim. He defends his position and he rebounds the ball. Play him in the high post and you can run some offense through him or he can bury jumpers.

Bottom line, the No. 1 spot has been up for grabs an Simmons did an awfully good job of doing everything he could to take it by leading the camp in scoring (18.5 per game) by a wide margin (14.8 was second best) while making just over 64% of his field goals.

Point guard still a concern in 2015

With a few big name floor generals missing at the NBPA Top 100 Camp -- most notably five-stars Jalen Brunson and Isaiah Briscoe who are playing with USA Basketball's 18U national team -- there was a golden opportunity for some other class of 2015 point guards to change the general thought that it is a bit of a down class for the position.

After watching many of them at NBPA the feel is that there is still a pretty wide gap between Brunson, Briscoe and the rest of the pack.

That isn't to say that the other point guards in the class aren't good players, they are. Just in terms of overall legitimate high major point guard depth, there's not a ton.

One player who did step up to the challenge was Jawun Evans. He was the second leading assist man of 2015 point guards -- Cincinnati commit Justin Jennifer averaged the most from 2015 -- and was also the most vocally engaged with his teammates and did the best job defensively. It was a good camp for him and others like Jennifer, Jimmy Whitt, Damontrae Jefferson and Bryant Crawford who all had their moments. But, there really wasn't any situation where anybody truly busted out or played significantly better than their current rankings.

Hopefully the month of July features some players coming out from underneath the radar or showing significant improvement to help boost the 2015 class' reputation from a point guard standpoint.

Bragg needed a big showing

In all likelihood, the play of Carlton Bragg saved him from a bit of a tumble in the class of 2015 rankings. A five-star prospect who is currently ranked No. 10 nationally, Bragg hadn't played like that level of a player much during the spring and there were more questions than answers about his development.

To his credit, Bragg stepped up and showed what he is really capable of at NBPA. He seems to have adjusted to the strength he has added through physical maturity and is finding a very good balance between using his strength and athleticism near the rim and roaming the perimeter. Most of all, he showed consistent effort and played hard on both ends.

At times this spring, Bragg's motor hasn't been running great and he's been a little too willing to settle for deep jumpers. In Charlottesville, Bragg did his thing in the paint first and then moved out to face the basket after getting warmed up. He ran the floor, he shot well and had his best showing of the grassroots season at the right time.

Whether or not Bragg can hold onto his spot in the national top 10 during Thursday's update to the rankings remains to be seen. However, he won't be very far away from that range if he experiences any slippage in the ranking.


Eric Bossi is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.



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