2015 Nike Hoop Summit International Roster Breakdown
by: Matt Kamalsky - Director of Operations
March 11, 2015
The Nike Hoop Summit World team was officially announced today, complementing the USA roster which was announced in January. The game is scheduled for Saturday, April 11th at the Rose Garden, in Portland, Oregon, and will be broadcasted on ESPN2 at noon PST (3PM EST).
HEAD COACH: Roy Rana (Canada) – 5th Nike Hoop Summit
ASSISTANT COACH: Marin Sedlacek (Serbia) – 15th Nike Hoop Summit
Much like last year, the 2015 World Select Team has a distinct North American flavor to it, featuring five players currently playing for high schools in Canada or the US; Skal Labissiere, Thon Maker, Jamal Murray, Cheick Diallo, and Ben Simmons. The other half includes an eclectic group of prospects from across the globe, and is a little bit younger and less European than what we've seen in years past.
This year's team will once again face a motivated US squad whose leadership surely haven't forgotten its losses in 2012 and 2013. Though this group may not be as talented as the 2013 team that featured Dennis Schroeder, Karl Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Dante Exum and others, it could certainly challenge the American team on game day once again, as this year's high school class is considered one of the weakest in perhaps the last decade.
The key for this group, as always, will be developing chemistry throughout the week, putting individual agendas to the side, and playing together on both ends of the floor. While the US team isn't as loaded with sure-fire top-10 picks as it has been in years past, this group has significant experience playing together in USA Basketball settings, and has plenty of outside shooting, rebounding and defensive versatility. The US group will certainly be the favorites going in, as the international team is quite a bit younger than they usually are this time around, and appears to lack depth on the wing.
The World roster is highlighted by two of the top three recruits in the 2015 high school class according to most services, Ben Simmons and Skal Labissiere.
Simmons, whose father is American, hails from Melbourne, Australia, and has spent the last few seasons at Montverde Academy, continuing the program's traditional of excellence at the high school level. Making his debut for Australia's National Team during the summer of 2013 at the FIBA Oceania Championship and developing his reputation in recruiting circles considerably last summer, Simmons' improved skill level, competitive streak, and explosiveness make him one of the most intriguing players in this group. He appears to be on course to rank among the top prospects for next year's draft after one season at LSU. Somewhat of a jack of all trades, it will be interesting to see what type of role Simmons plays for this World Team. An extremely versatile defender, he is terrific in transition and likes to operate with the ball in his hands, but is not a great outside shooter, something scouts will want to see how he's improved on.
Despite his lofty recruiting rankings, Skal Labissiere is a bit more of an unknown for NBA scouts, having played in fewer high visibility events than many of his peers over the last few years. He arrived in the States in 2010 after the catastrophic earthquake that ravaged his home country of Haiti, and has bounced around different high schools and AAU programs, which has generated some backlash about the motives of people around him. A 6'11 power forward with a massively improved frame, impressive athleticism and intriguing versatility on both ends of the floor, the Haitian big man will have a terrific opportunity to familiarize scouts with his skill set before heading to Lexington to play for John Calipari next season.
Born in Mali, the long and athletic 6'9 big man Cheick Diallo gives the World Team a third consensus top-10 recruit in the class of 2015. Known for his presence on the boards and around the rim defensively when he's dialed in, Roy Rana will look to the uncommitted big man to take care of the dirty work inside. He's an impressive rebounder and shot-blocker, but is somewhat stuck between the 4 and 5 positions and is not known for his offensive skill-level.
Teammates at the Athlete Institute Basketball Academy, located an hour northwest of Toronto, Jamal Murray and Thon Maker round out the North American based high school players in this group. Murray, who represented Canada in the 2014 Nike Hoop Summit scoring 10 points and dishing out 5 assists, is a 6'5, smooth combo guard who shot the lights out in practice last year. He'll likely play a bigger role this season as the World Team is heavy with point guards and big men, but a bit light on wings. Murray is fresh off a strong showing at the 2015 NBA Basketball Without Borders Global Camp, where he showed much improved ball-handling ability, court vision and defensive intensity.
Maker is an extremely intriguing prospect who, after announcing his intent to attempt to reclassify to the high school class of 2015, ranks among the top uncommitted seniors in the country. A rail thin 7-footer with a versatile skill level, the Sudanese born big man gives this team another player who can handle and pass the ball, shoot with range, and make plays around the basket. Scouts will be interested to see how his body has developed since the last time they saw him at the adidas EuroCamp in July or adidas Nations in August.
George Lucas and Federico Mussini are two of the more interesting players here for US-based scouts, and they'll be charged with handling the ball for the World Team. Lucas (often called Georginho) is a potential 2015 first round pick who scored 20.8 points and dished out 4.3 assist per-game at the 2014 Nike Global Challenge and has been very productive playing in the Brazilian Development League. A fluid, 6'5 guard with a tremendous frame and wingspan, the Diadema-born prospect will have a terrific chance to solidify his draft stock in Portland.
Mussini needs less of an introduction for international scouts, as he's already playing a prominent role for Reggio Emilia in the EuroCup and Italian League. Scoring 21 points at the Jordan Brand Classic International game in 2012 and averaging 22.6 per-game at last summer's FIBA U18 European Championship, Mussini is a small, but extremely confident lead guard with a dangerous jump shot and a flair for creating offense. His poor frame, average athleticism and underwhelming defensive prowess limits his upside from a NBA standpoint, but he will be the World Team's most battle tested player as he's averaging 17.7 minutes per-game against high-level competition in Italy. While staying in Europe seems more likely, he is considering attending college in the States next year as well, with St. John's and Gonzaga being his strongest suitors at the moment reportedly.
Zhou Qi is another World Team player with significant international experience as he played a major role for Xinjiang in the CBA this season, averaging 14.1 points, 7 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks in 29.2 minutes per-game. A skinny, but extremely long and fairly skilled center with terrific mobility, Qi will have an opportunity to make an impression on scouts and substantiate his numbers against his peers. International scouts have gotten plenty of looks at Zhou in FIBA settings, so they will want to evaluate how his frame is developing and whether he's showing more toughness and passion for the game than he displayed in international settings.
Nedim Buza gives the World Team great size and perimeter shooting ability at the small forward position, as well as solid athleticism. As the oldest player competing in this game on either roster, he should be able to make his presence felt immediately. He's played a prominent role for OKK Spars in the Bosnian League for the last two seasons and is shooting 40% from 3 this season, averaging 11 points per game in 25 minutes. In addition to George Lucas, Buza might be the player who can help his stock the most at the Nike Hoop Summit when thinking strictly about the 2015 NBA Draft. He garnered considerable attention a few years back when he first emerged on the scene, but hasn't taken a pronounced step forward since then, partially due to the fact that he is still playing in the Bosnian league, which does not generate much attention. He already entered his name in last year's draft, and is likely to do the same with a strong showing in Portland. 6-8 small forwards who can shoot and defend their position capably are coveted commodities in today's NBA, so scouts will be watching him closely to see how he stacks up against players who are mostly a year or two younger than him.
Class of 2016 Kentucky commit Tai Wynyard will be the youngest player on either team, born in 1998, he is almost three years younger than Buza. The bruising 6'9 center has dressed for a number of games in the Australian League this season for the only NBL team from his native New Zealand, the Breakers. He will provide a physical presence in the frontcourt as he's not afraid to throw his frame around crashing the offensive glass. His skill-level is still a work in progress, so it will be interesting to see how he fares against older and more experienced players in the World Select practices leading up to the game.
Stefan Peno gives the World Team a third point guard and another capable distributor. A highly touted player earlier in his career, Peno is playing this season in the Spanish 3rd division where he's scoring 8.4 points and dishing out 2.3 assists per-game. He made his ACB debut in December and has been a staple of the Serbian junior National Teams over the last few years.
Peno, whose mother is from Guyana (bordering Brazil and Venezuela), had considerable hype at a very young age, which led to him being recruited by Euroleague club Barcelona only a month after turning 14 years old. He's gone through a lot of ups and downs since he left for Spain, with his conditioning-level and overall development drawing a lot of criticism back in his home country. A terrific ball-handler and extremely creative all-around player, you never quite know what you will get from Peno every time he steps on the floor. Athletically, there are doubts about whether he has what it takes to make it at the highest levels of basketball, as he does not have a very quick first step and is prone to getting burned off the dribble defensively. His perimeter shooting has not improved much over the years, as he's hitting just 25% of his 3-pointers this year, but he's a tremendous passer who sees the floor extremely well at 6-5.