Enes Kanter (Turkey), 6í10.5, Power Forward/Center, Committed to Kentucky
Easily the most impressive player on the World Select Team, Kanter had strong showings in practice and exploded for 34 points at 13 rebounds during the game. Carrying the Internationals back from a 10-point deficit to build a commanding lead in the third quarter, Kanter single-handedly repositioned his team to win the game. The Kentucky commit sparked a lot of positive buzz with his showing, and only reinforced many of the positive qualities we saw from him in junior play.
Measuring in at 6í10 with shoes on and sporting a 7í1 wingspan, Kanter wasnít the tallest player on the floor, but his 260-pound frame afforded him a ton of success on the block. Heís not a great athlete by any standards, though he flashes some explosiveness from time to time, but uses his body as well as any player youíll see on the high school level. He exceptionally good at using leverage, is extremely patient, wonít hesitate to initiate contact, and shows outstanding hands.
When Kanter gets the ball in the post off an entry pass or offensive rebound, heís very good finding angles to create clean looks for himself at the basket. Able to establish deep position and showing an array of drop step moves and little pivots, Kanter has a knack for taking what the defense gives him and doing exactly what he needs to get the job done. Savvy beyond his years, Kanter excels at the rim for a player without outstanding athleticism.
Kanterís offensive game appears to have expanded from his days with Fenerbahce. In addition to the incredible feel for scoring in the post that caught the attention of scouts years ago, heís now capable of stepping to out the high-post and knocking down shots with solid consistency. His shot is on the flat side, but he showed range out to the college three-point line and could develop into a very reliable pick-and-pop threat.
Defensively, Kanter had some excellent possessions in practice, coming up with some blocks by being a step ahead of the play and contesting shots with his positioning, rather than his athleticism. His body helps him fight for position on the block, and his physical nature allowed him to deny penetration when his man attempted to take him off the dribble. Once the shot goes up, Kanter does a nice job of sealing off his man and pursuing the ball. Though his ability to rebound outside of his area wasnít as apparent as it was in junior play, heís still, more often than not, the player coming down with the ball in a crowd.
On top of his excellent skill level, Kanter impressed with his intangibles as well. Heís the type of quiet, competitive player that simply goes about his business without getting frustrated at officials or letting a few bad possessions throw off his game. The fact that he didnít start the Hoop Summit game didnít seem to faze him, as he could be seen enthusiastically supporting his team from the bench.
Clearly, thereís a lot to like about what Kanter can bring to a team with both his play and demeanor. With questions about his eligibility still making the rounds, it seems safe to say that if and when Kanter does suit up for Coach Calipari, heíll be a force to be reckoned with on the NCAA level. His play in Portland captured the attention of the NBA community, and heíll be a player to keep an eye on moving towards the 2011 draft.
Nikola Mirotic (Montenegro/Spain), 6í10, Forward, Faymasa Palencia (LEB Gold, Spain)
A player weíve written about pretty extensively in the past after his showing at the Nike International Junior Tournament, Mirotic was a player we had high expectations for coming in, and he didnít disappoint. At 6í10 with a big (7í1) wingspan, Mirotic has nice size player and a budding perimeter arsenal. Probably the second best European prospect on the World Select Team behind Enes Kanter, Mirotic was a consistent and productive player all week long.
It was clear all week that Miroticís time playing with Faymasa Palencia of the very competitive LEB-Gold league in Spain has served him extremely well. He showed the savvy of a veteran operating in half court sets, doing a good job finding the soft spots in the zone the World Select Team worked on each practice, made some nice touch passes in the paint, and showed great timing when cutting to the basket. On the whole, the level of polish Mirotic showed in his game was impressive, especially considering his age.
Still capable of doing damage around the basket as he did at the junior level, Mirotic no longer enjoys the size advantage and skill advantage that allowed him to dominate the NIJT, but has compensated by making some notable strides in his game. Heís clearly improved his jump shot, showing the ability to step out and knock down shots from near NBA-range. He still struggles to put the ball on the floor to score, especially with his left hand, but he doesnít force much either. If Mirotic can shore up his ball-handling ability, he could have excellent potential offensively as face-up power forward.
Lacking a degree of explosiveness, Mirotic is a smart defender and uses his size and length well in the passing lanes and on the glass, but lacks the tools to be too effective in one-on-one situations. He plays well within a team concept and doesnít take many risks, but will need to continue developing his frame to ready himself for the more athletic players heís likely to run into the ACB and possibly the NBA in the next few years.
Miroticís size and budding perimeter skills make him an intriguing draft prospect. While his athleticism will certainly be considered a limitation to some degree, his skill level continues to improve, and by the time he decides to declare, could put him in position to garner a selection. If and when heíll be selected will have a lot to do with what kind of opportunities heíll have to improve. Mirotic may not get a shot to play with Real Madrid next season, but his recently acquired Spanish passport and the possibility that he could be loaned to another team in the ACB both bode well for his future development.
The tallest player in attendance, Musli had an up and down week, but fared pretty well during the game. A player that weíve covered extensively in the past, heís made a number of notable strides that will surely affect his NBA draft stock Ėthe biggest change being the amount of weight heís lost.
After tipping the scales at 260 the last time we checked in on him, heís dropped another 20 pounds and looks substantially leaner. Almost skinny at this point, Musli still isnít a great athlete, though he moves a bit better than he did in the past. Musliís sheer size and length are clearly assets, but heíll need to show that he can continue to add strength to build on the improvements heís already made to his physique.
Despite his lack of bulk compared to some of his teammates, Musli fought hard for position on the block all week long. Though he had a hard time establishing deep position, he had no trouble getting his hook shot off when he did receive an entry pass. His consistency still isnít ideal yet, but he shows solid touch and the extension he gets on his release makes his hook very difficult to defend. His size allows him to be a fairly effective finisher, and he isnít afraid to initiate contact when he receives the ball at the rim, but isnít always strong enough to create a good opportunity for himself.
When he steps away from the basket, Musli has an extremely mechanical jump shot. His form lacks fluidity and doesnít yield consistent results. His size gives him some upside offensively, but heíll need to learn to exploit it effectively by becoming more consistent.
Defensively, Musli did a solid job contesting shots, but his lack of physical strength hurt him against the likes of Enes Kanter and Jared Sullinger. Heíll fight hard to prevent his man from getting position on the block, but he has a hard time keeping up with quicker and stronger players when they look to take him to the basket. His length helps him compensate for that to a large degree, but his ability to add weight will limit his defensive potential.
With both of FMP Zeleznikís centers (Miroslav Radjulica and Peja Samardziski) likely moving onto bigger clubs this summer, Musli will have an opportunity to see substantial minutes next season in the Adriatic League and possibly in European competition. Still extremely young, Musli has been on the NBA radar for years and will continue to do so until he decides to enter the draft. Not quite as gifted athletically as some of his NCAA counterparts, NBA teams will likely want to see how Musli produces in Serbia first before they make any long-term judgments about his NBA potential.
A late addition to the Junior National Select Team, Meyers Leonard didnít have a major impact during the game, but showcased his tools throughout the practice sessions. Standing 7í0 with long arms and a frame that could add a lot of weight; heís an excellent athlete for his size, but lacks the coordination and polish of many of the other post players he matched up with this week. Heís prone to dropping some of the bullet passes thrown his way, but his huge frame provides a big target for his teammates when they attack the rim. Still growing into his body, Leonard doesnít have too many bad habits, but has a ton of room to grow as a player.
Headed to Illinois this fall, Leonard flashes some tools on the offensive end, including soft touch and nice range on his jumper as well as the ability to play well above the rim. He struggles with contact at this point, and still needs to develop his toughness, aggressiveness and back to the basket game, but runs the floor well, and looks to dunk as often as possible at the rim Ėtwo things that will help him immensely at the next level if heís coupled with a good point guard. His defensive presence leaves a bit to be desired as it stands, but he has all the physical tools to become an impact player if he improves his motor and decides to be more physical on both ends of the floor. Not a threat to do too much scoring one-on-one and looking a bit lost at times during the scrimmages this week, Leonard is an intriguing long term prospect whose size and defensive potential make him a player to keep an eye on from an NBA perspective.
Jason Cadee (Australia), 6í2, Point Guard, Australian Institute of Sport
A vocal leader who acted like a coach on the floor, Jason Cadee did a fine job running the show when he was on the floor for the World Select Team in both the Hoop Summit Game and practices. A well decorated junior player in his native country, hailing from the same Australian Institute of Sport that produced Andrew Bogut, Joe Ingles and Patrick Mills, amongst others, Cadee was steady and in control all week. Sporting a skinny frame and often a step slower than the other guards in attendance, he struggled to free himself when facing full court pressure in practice, but once the ball is in his hands, he plays with pace and is incredibly unselfish.
When he looks to score, Cadee shows a smooth stroke that makes him a threat to hit the three. Lacking the first step to get to the rim in one-on-one situations, Cadee picks and chooses his spots, often using his defenderís momentum to get into the lane, where heís always looking for the open man. Lacking the leaping ability and strength to finish at the rim at a high rate, Cadee is a capable floor general who could become a name to look out for down the road in International play, but has much to prove still regarding his long-term potential.
Mael Lebrun (France), 6í5.5, Small Forward, Entente Orleans (Euroleague)
Having played some minutes for Entente Orleans of the Euroleague and showing well in last yearís U18 European Championships, LeBrun has spent most of the season playing in the French Espoirs. A solid athlete with a 6í8 wingspan and a developing frame, he was very deferential throughout the Hoop Summit practices, though his pass first approach did earn him four assists during the game.
Looking more comfortable playing a complementary role in this setting, LeBrun did a nice job defensively and made some smart plays on the offensive end, but seemed to struggle with his confidence from the perimeter and just wasnít looking to score. He looked capable of slashing to the basket when he put the ball on the floor, but had a hard time getting his shot to fall, looking a bit erratic with his follow through from beyond the arc. He flashed some athleticism finishing at the rim, and isnít the type of player that is looking to stand out in an All-Star setting. Moving forward, LeBrun could develop into a quality complementary player, especially if he is able to shore up his jumper and receive consistent minutes in Pro A France.
Sui Ran, 6-4, Shooting Guard (China)
Ran, who played in the Jordan Brand International Game last year, had a hard time getting himself going in practices, but made a couple of nice plays for the World Select Team in transition. Standing just 6í4, Ran is a bit undersized for a shooting guard, but he has some quickness and a solid frame for a player his age. He doesnít pose much of a threat in catch and shoot situations right now, nor is he going to knock down pull up jumpers off the bounce, but his ability to put the ball on the floor and get in the lane off of straight-line dribble drives made him the third leading scorer for the Shandong Flaming Bulls of the CBA behind former NBA players Andre Emmett and Stromile Swift. He showed soft touch on his floater and had a couple of nice defensive possessions during the game where he read the ball handlerís eyes before coming up with the steal. His current limitations arenít too problematic for him as a complementary player in the CBA, but donít give him much NBA potential right now.
Rob Loe (New Zealand), 6í11.5, Center, JTB/Breakers (New Zealand)
The New Zealand native and future St. Louis Billikens player had a decent week, but struggled to stand out amongst the World Select Teamís other seven footers in practice and played just 9 minutes in the game. He showed decent touch from the perimeter, but wasnít aggressive or physical enough down low. Only possessing decent athleticism, Loe has a lot of room to improve, and would definitely benefit from some improvements to his frame, increased toughness and intensity and additional polish to his back to the basket game.
Duje Dukan (Croatia), 6í8 Small Forward, Committed to Wisconsin
Born in Croatia, but hailing from Deerfield High School in Illinois, Dukan knocked down some of his looks from beyond the arc in practice, but wasnít able to convert during the game. With his father, Bullsí scout Ivica Dukan looking on, Dukan showed the ability to stretch the floor in practice. A capable catch and shoot threat, Dukan will need to diversify what he brings to the table on the offensive end. Heíll be a nice asset for the Badgers.
A week before the Hoop Summit, we had a chance to chat with Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, teammates on the World Team. We discussed, amongst other things, the future of Canadian basketball and their place on the national team.
Physicals Height: 7' 0" Weight: 251 lbs. Birthday: 11/28/1984 31 Years Old Teams: High School: Australian Institute of Sport Previous Team: Warriors , PRO Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #1 in 2005 Draft by the Bucks Positions: Current: C, NBA: C, Possible: PF/C Quick Stats: 5.2 Pts, 6.7 Rebs, 2.1 Asts
Physicals Height: 6' 8" Weight: 209 lbs. Birthday: 10/02/1987 28 Years Old Teams: High School: Australian Institute of Sport Previous Team: Jazz , PRO Drafted: Undrafted in Draft Positions: Current: SF, NBA: SF, Possible: SG/SF Quick Stats: 4.2 Pts, 1.9 Rebs, 1.2 Asts
Physicals Height: 6' 0" Weight: 175 lbs. Birthday: 08/11/1988 27 Years Old Teams: High School: Australian Institute of Sport Previous Team: Spurs , PRO Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #25 in 2009 Draft by the Trailblazers Positions: Current: PG, NBA: PG, Possible: PG Quick Stats: 8.3 Pts, 1.9 Rebs, 2.7 Asts
Physicals Height: 6' 4" Weight: 217 lbs. Birthday: 08/27/1982 33 Years Old Teams: High School: David W. Carter Previous Team: KCC Egis , PRO Drafted: Rnd 2, Pick #6 in 2004 Draft by the Supersonics Positions: Current: SG, NBA: SG, Possible: SG Quick Stats: 26.4 Pts, 6.7 Rebs, 3.1 Asts