After taking in practices all week for the World Team and Team USA, we were very excited to see some of the world's best young talent on display at The Rose Garden last night for the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit. The game ended up being a bit anti-climactic, however, as Team USA cruised to 92-80 victory, with their athleticism ultimately proving to be too much for the international squad.
The World Team got off to an extremely slow start, turning the ball over, and missing jumpers and shots at the rim, as they were clearly having trouble adjusting to the physical talents of the USA players. They managed to settle in a bit by the second, but it was already too late, and they couldn't mount a comeback.
Team USA was led by 6'3” guard Austin Rivers, who finished with a game-high 20 points on 7-11 shooting and 3-4 from 3-point range. While there still may be questions about his NBA position down the road, he should be an instant impact player at Duke next season with his excellent perimeter stroke and scoring instincts.
Anthony Davis continued his impressive play from McDonald's week and scored 16 points on 8-13 from the field, along with 10 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Davis's ability to run the floor, rebound, and disrupt the World's ability to finish at rim was a big factor in the game, and he proved to be the perfect big man for the roster in his first time playing for USA basketball.
Michael Gilchrist also had an outstanding night, scoring 16 points on 6-9 shooting, along with 5 rebounds, 5 blocks, and smothering defense, showing a great intensity level and versatility, and making plays on both ends of the floor. Kentucky fans have a lot to be excited about for next season with the arrivals of Gilchrist and Davis, as well as Marquis Teague and Kyle Wiltjer, who also participated in the game last night.
Even in a loss, the story from this game was 6'9” Congolese big man Bismack Biyombo from the World Team, who recorded a triple double with 12 points on 5-7 shooting, 11 rebounds, and 10 blocks in 28 minutes of play. NBA scouts were buzzing about him all week during the practice sessions, but seeing him excel in the game against the athleticism of Team USA even further solidified his legitimacy as an NBA prospect.
His recent play for Fuenlabrada in the ACB in Spain had us move him into the top-20 of our Top-100 rankings two months ago, and it will be interesting to see how much of a boost this game gives his draft stock, as there were plenty of NBA scouts and executives in attendance to witness his tremendous performance.
Biyombo will likely always be a somewhat limited player on the offensive end, and he showed some of his flaws tonight with 4 turnovers, but his intensity, toughness, and length make him a beast on the interior, reminiscent of Ben Wallace in his prime. Biyombo's triple-double and dominance in the paint last night will probably be remembered as his coming out party, further illustrating the impact this game can have on the futures of some of the international prospects who are able to participate, as Nike's Consultant of Global Basketball Rich Sheubrooks told us in the days leading up to the event:
The other bright spot for the World Team was 6'6” Polish wing Mateusz Ponitka, who led the team in scoring with 17 points. Although he flew under the radar a bit in practice, his competitive fire was evident all week, and he seemed to be the only other player, along with Biyombo, who didn't look to be overwhelmed by the physical tools of Team USA.
Two of the standouts from practice this week, Latvian forward Davis Bertans, and French wing Evan Fournier both struggled last night in what could have been a great opportunity for them to showcase their NBA potential. Bertans shot just 3-10 from the floor and Fournier 2-8, which really hampered the World Team from getting much going offensively. Both players are eligible for this summer's draft, but they showed some of their limitations tonight and may be more realistic candidates for the draft another year or two down the road.
Brazilian big man Lucas Nogueira was another intriguing prospect for the World Team, and he didn't have a poor showing with 4 points and 6 rebounds, but he played less than 13 minutes, and it's clear that he's still a ways away from being able to contribute at the NBA level. It's still unclear if he'll make himself eligible for this summer's draft, or if he'll wait, but NBA teams got a better gauge this week with just how far along he is with his development as a player.
Overall, the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit was an excellent opportunity to get a chance to evaluate some of the young talent in the Unites States and from around the globe. It was informative to see the players of Team USA compete together on a national team after seeing most of them last week at the McDonald's game in Chicago, and many of them will be some of the big names on the college basketball scene for the 2011-2012 season.
As Sheubrooks described in the video above, this event has also proven to be a jump-starter to NBA careers, including the likes of Dirk Nowitski and Tony Parker, and after serving as the coming out party for Turkish big man Enes Kanter last year, Bismack Biyombo surely put himself in that group with his impressive play last night. Time will tell what the future holds for some of these prospects, and although the game was a bit lacking from a competitive standpoint, it was a great week overall, and we were happy to be able to attend.
Stay tuned all week as we bring detailed scouting reports on many of the players in attendance in Portland, based on what we learned from the practices, scrimmages and the actual game.
Physicals Height: 6' 9" Weight: 240 lbs. Birthday: 09/10/1974 41 Years Old Teams: High School: Haynesville Central Previous Team: Virginia Union , PRO Drafted: Undrafted in Draft Positions: Current: C, NBA: C, Possible: C Quick Stats: 1.4 Pts, 4.3 Rebs, 0.7 Asts