Rawle Alkins made a strong statement to be considered the nation’s top shooting guard as he earned MVP honors in leading his Team Rose team to the Adidas Nations title. Lonzo Ball, Kobi Simmons and Mario Kegler also impress for the winning club.
He didn’t start, he only played half the game and didn’t play many minutes with running mate Lonzo Ball, but nothing was going to stop 6-foot-4 shooting guard Rawle Alkins of Team Rose from completing his summer mission. Alkins, a charismatic New Yorker likely on the move for his senior season, wanted to show national scouts, as well as a national television audience, that he’s a national top 10 prospect in the Class of 2016 and in the conversation as high school basketball’s top shooting guard prospect.
Alkins completed his dominant run through adidas Nations by leading Team Rose to a 113-93 win over Team Wall in the championship game played at Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif. With the game in the balance in the fourth period, Alkins hit three consecutive 3-pointers to give Team Rose the cushion that it needed to cruise to victory. The score was 77-70 in favor of Team Rose entering the fourth but when Alkins’ barrage was completed, it was 97-77.
“I want to be known as the best shooting guard in the class,” said Alkins, who finished with a game-high 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field. “I started as an unknown and unranked player. In ninth grade, I was like No. 45. Then I went to No. 22 and now it’s like No. 7.
“Cali is a good luck charm to me.”
Alkins was referring to his dominant showing at the Pangos All-American Camp in Carson, Calif. back in early June, when he took home MOP honors before catching a quick flight back to New York.
“Winning is the only option,” Alkins said about his team’s unbeaten run through the event.
In Monday’s adidas Nations title game, he hit 6-of-8 3-pointers. As a team, Team Wall made 12-of-22 3-pointers. The game’s out come was decided by the difference in shooting between the two teams made up of American 2016 prospects. Team Rose made 50.6 percent of its shots from the field (43-of-85), while Team Wall shot 39.2 percent (38-97).
Markelle Fultz, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.), led Team Wall with 16 points. He made 7-of-25 shots from the field and didn’t connect from 3-point range on five attempts.
To offset the knee injury suffered by point guard Dennis Smith Jr., of Team Wall on Sunday evening, guard Frank Jackson of Lone Peak (Highland, Utah) was moved from Team Rose to Team Wall for the title game. It affected Team Rose’s normal rotation, but it did not change the outcome of the game.
Alkins was not going to be denied.
“He’s for real,” Alkins said about Ball, a 6-foot-5 point guard out of Chino Hills, Calif. “He’s a lot like Andre Iguodala. He does a lot of things that sometimes don’t show up in the stat sheet.”
Ball led the team in minutes in the title game (28) and didn’t score much (4 points, 2-of-5 shooting), but did the little things to make a difference just as he had all week. He finished with game-highs in rebounds (11) and assists (8).
Mario Kegler, a 6-foot-7 forward out of Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), added 19 points for Team Rose. Guard Kobi Simmons of St. Francis (Alpharetta, Ga.) also finished with 19 points, while Mustapha Heron of Sacred Heart (Waterbury, Conn.) made all three of his 3-point attempts and added 15.
“I don’t get to play with players like this very often, so I wanted to cherish it and win a championship,” Ball said. “It was a great experience playing with this group. I don’t have to do as much as I do with my travel team, but I could do more if we needed it.
“It took a little time for the guys to warm up to what I do, but that’s normal. I would do the same to guys I didn’t trust.”
Alkins and his teammates undoubtedly trust Ball now.
Team Africa Closes Strong
In the third place game, Team Africa closed out an impressive run at the event with a 89-85 victory over Team Lillard, which was made up of American 2017 prospects.
Team Lillard led 49-39 at halftime, but Team Africa used a big third quarter to take control of the game. They outscored the Americans 27-10. Lillard lowest point total in any of the other three quarters was 24 points.
Alpha Diallo, a 6-foot-7 2016 wing out of Lincoln (Denver, Col.), tied the game at 52-52 on a steal and flush with 5:40 remaining in the third period and Team Africa took control thereafter. A highlight finish by Mamadi Diakite, a 6-foot-9 2016 forward out of Blue Ridge (St. George, Va.), off a push up the court and pretty pass by Wenyen Gabriel, a 6-foot-9 power forward out of Wilbraham & Monson Academy (Manchester, N.H.), made it 58-54 late in the third period. The score was 66-59 Team Africa leading entering the fourth period.
Team Africa’s athleticism and ability to finish created problems for foes all weekend and Team Lillard was no exception. Lillard especially had trouble slowing down Diallos, as the two on Team Africa combined for 56 points. Alpha Diallo netted 30 points (even though he missed seven three throws) and added 13 rebounds. Hamidou Diallo, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard out of Woostock Academy (Queens, N.Y.), added 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field.
Gabriel didn’t shoot particular well (4-of-14) but he continued to show an all-around skill level that make him a bonafide Top 10 long-term prospect in the Class of 2016. He finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Diakite added eight points.
Team Lillard kept within range and had opportunities down the stretch to potentially tie the game. When guard Trevon Duval of St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) converted a lay-up with 1:46 to go, it cut Team Lillard’s deficit down to four points (84-80), but Team Africa made enough free throws down the stretch.
Duval was one of three Team Lillard players in double figures with 11 points. E.J. Montgomery, a talented 2018 power forward prospect out of Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.), had 10 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Gary Trent Jr., a 6-foot-4 shooting guard out of Apple Valley (Minn.) and the son of the former NBA player, led Team Lillard with 24 points.