Texas Elite adidas Prime takes 17U Platinum Gauntlet Championship
By Bob Corwin
Held July 27-29, 2017, with main site the Lake Point Pavilion in Emerson, Georgia, the 2017 adidas Uprising Summer Championships (commonly known as adidas Nationals [“a” is not in caps according to brand]) top 17U section (Platinum Gauntlet) was won by Texas Elite adidas Prime over the Northwest Blazers Orange (based out of Washington State).
Approximately 300 colleges (all divisions) and 500 coaches attended one or more days of this national event. In its second year headquartered at the state of the art Lake Point Pavilion (12 fully equipped wood courts – see photo below), 196 teams did battle in six divisions based on age and playing strength. Due to manpower and time limitations, only the final of the top 17U division is discussed below.
A bit about the adidas championships
The finals have been in Metro Atlanta the last six years with the last two headquartered at Lake Point Pavilion with play also at a couple of nearby facilities.
The 17U Platinum Gauntlet consisted of 38 teams. Thirty-six teams played in the Platinum Gauntlet events in Phoenix in April and Dallas earlier in July. The other two teams were promoted from Silver Gauntlet (100 affiliate clubs that wear adidas gear but choose to play in some independent events). This year NC Zoom and the NY Gauchos won promotion to the Platinum Gauntlet based on earlier success.
Adidas Platinum Gauntlet versus Nike EYBL clubs
The very top adidas teams would be competitive with the Nike EYBL teams. Nike’s EYBL has more quality teams at the top and more depth top to bottom. If you walked around Lake Point Pavilion, you would find plenty of D1 talent but not the abundance of Power 5 prospects present on Nike’s EYBL circuit. As you get into the younger divisions, talent probably tended to even out more between these two giant sponsoring umbrella organizations.
More clubs and more “second” teams
Having never been on the adidas circuit, I came across more (irrespective of talent) clubs from all over the USA that I had never heard of. Also, both adidas and Nike (along with the independents) are developing second, third, fourth, etc. teams in 17U and younger age groups playing under the club’s colors but generally with less talent per team. I have heard of clubs with as many as 30 different teams under its logo sometimes managed by club leadership and sometimes almost independent of it. The number of teams in club basketball has grown tremendously over the last decade. If only quality Power 5 talent was growing along with them!!
Looking at the final of the 17U Platinum Gauntlet…
Texas Elite adidas Prime 56-36 Northwest Blazers Orange
Prior to the event, the word in the building was that the Texas team was the favorite and the Blazers were one of a few teams that could come out of the other side of the bracket. Texas Elite had eight 2018’s of which five were already orally committed to Power 5 programs. Conversely over half of the Blazers were 2019’s or younger with two of its best prospects a 2020 and 2021 (mentioned below).
In the semifinals, the Texans struggled to a 64-58 victory over Wisconsin Flight Elite adidas Gauntlet while the Blazers won more comfortably (55-45) over Team Brandan Wright 2018 (out of Tennessee).
The final was over early as the Texans led 37 to 16 at half. Keys to the half were Catherine Reese (6-2, power forward, 2018, Arizona oral commit) dominating from the high post driving to the basket for 16 of her game high 20 points (8/11 from the field). Also critical in the Texas success was the play of point guard Tatum Veitenheimer (5-8, 2018, orally committed to Oklahoma). She scored 11 points for the game and her defense was largely responsible for holding the Blazer’s young star point guard Hailey Van Lith (5-8, 2020) to four first half points and a low shooting percentage for the game. Also reaching double figures for Texas was Jasmine Smith (5-7, shooting guard, 2018, orally committed to Rice) with 10 points. The Blazers were led in scoring by Talia Oelhoffen (5-11, shooting guard, 2021) with 12 points. Van Lith, a top flight lefty with a mean hesitation move and fine court vision, and Oelhoffen, a major league wing with size and three-point range, should give the Blazers two cornerstones to build around for years to come.
Post-games, Texas Elite Assistant Coach Shane Laflin praised the team’s defense for the entire tournament and took special pride in having eight division one players on the squad. Head Coach Joey Simmons credited Texas “for having a lot of good coaches and trainers [making sure] kids come first!” Texas Elite adidas Prime last won the top section in 2015 and finished third last year.
Blazers Head Coach Steve Klees took special pride in his team finishing in the top three of the top division for six years in a row.