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July Means AAU Basketball: Previewing the It takes 5IVE Classic

Adidas_mediumWhile the weather tends to heat up during the month of July, so to does collegiate basketball recruiting with the biggest month of the year in AAU basketball.  July is packed full with AAU tournaments across the country from Augusta, South Carolina all the way to Las Vegas, Nevada.  The 2009 AAU schedule has been running since April but their is no more important time for the potential recruits to impress college coaches.  The July evaluation period is also the most important time for coaches across the country to finally sit down and evaluate what could be the future of their program.  Odds are that every coach has a list of players they have really zoned in on but, as Gonzaga fans have seen in recent years, their are always surprises that stand out during the month of July and make this evaluation process very interesting.

Today marks the beginning of the July evaluation period with the "adidas It takes 5IVE Classic" in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Click here for the official site and here for the pool matchups (PDF).  While the AAU schedule is bound for more scenic locations, the adidas event is sure to showcase some of the best talent in the nation, including some names that should stand out for Gonzaga fans.  For our purposes, we will focus on three individuals that could be members of the very small 2010 class for Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs.  Those three names are Yannick Atanga, Austin Hollins, and Jamel Outler.

continue reading more about the start of serious AAU ball after the jump...

The guy that really carries the most interest for me personally during this tournament will be Impact Basketball's Yannick Atanga.  He's a solid 6'7'', 220 pound power forward with plenty of room to grow and his coach compared his ball-hawking abilities to Dennis Rodman.  Atanga has absolutely, 100% burst onto the scene recently and is attracting some of the most prestigous schools in the nation.  We had a great interview with Yannick's high school coach a few weeks ago where he told us that Yannick is hearing from a number of schools on the West Coast like UCLA, Gonzaga, and Washington State but is also being tracked in the East by schools like West Virginia.  He recently picked up his first solid offer from Santa Clara and expect that offer to snowball into a number of offers for Yannick.  Here is how Yannick and Impact Basketball's schedule looks for today:

July 6th @ 8 AM EST- Impact Basketball vs. MBA Elite
July 6th @ 10:40 AM EST- Impact Basketball vs. Stark County

Only the top team from this pool will advance to the Platinum Tournament, the other two will fill in the gold and silver tournament.  MBA Elite features LaQuinton Ross, arguably the best player in the 2011 class.  They've got a solid supporting cast with Rodney Hood and DeMarco Cox and will present a challenge to Atanga and Impact Basketball.

Their are two other major prospects that have listed Gonzaga who are participating in this tournament.  Austin Hollins is a name that few of us and ever heard of and that is because he has largely flown under the radar up to this point in time.  Hollins is a 6'5'' wing-guard whose greatest strength is his basketball IQ.  He hails from Germantown, Tennessee and is reportedly hearing interest from Memphis, Gonzaga, and a number of other schools in the southern region of the United States.  To be honest he intrigues the hell out of me but it is hard to imagine the staff bringing in a wing of his stature when we are pretty loaded at that position already.  Rivals wrote a blurb about him in April saying that Hollins was beginning to blow up and that as many as 17 division one schools attended one of his workouts.  He's on one of the historically best AAU teams running right now, the Nashville Celtics who typically feature several D1 prospects and this year is no different.  Here is how their schedule shakes out in pool play:

July 6th @ 9:20 AM EST- Nashville Celtics vs. Wrecking Crew
July 6th @ 1:20 PM EST- Nashville Celtics vs. Baltimore Assault

The last prospect that deserves to be mentioned is Houston Select's Jamel Outler.  Outler was one of the best prospects in Texas during his freshman year of high school.  The 6-foot-3 guard had all of the Texas schools and a number of schools like Gonzaga knocking at his door to try and get his services.  Jamel had a bit of a dropoff recently but is still projecting as a division one talent.  Schools like Utah, Northwestern, and Iowa State have caught Jamel's eye recently but Gonzaga was in on him quite early and, judging by their recent history of recruiting guards from Texas, might still be in his ear.  Hopefully Outler has got himself together because just two years ago he was camping at places like Wake Forest, Texas A&M, and even looking at schools like Duke and Carolina.  Here is a look at Jamel's pool play schedule:

July 6th @ 10:40 AM EST- Houston Select vs. LA Stars
July 6th @ 1:20 PM EST- Houston Select vs. Mustang Ballers

Continue to check back in as the tournament progresses as we will keep you up to date on how all the Gonzaga prospects perform!