10 Things We Learned at the U17 World Championships in Dubai
I had a chance to attend the 2014 World Championships in Dubai, catching the final three days of knockout rounds (along with a dozen or so NBA scouts) as well as a number of the games that were broadcasted locally live and on delay. Here are some observations after attending this tremendous competition:
1. There is a lot of talent in the Junior Class for the NBA. Arguably, Team USA's top 2 prospects were rising juniors Harry Giles and Josh Jackson, and with the way that they played, you could even make a case for junior Jayson Tatum over Ivan Rabb or any of the other Seniors as the team's third best talent.
2. From an NBA scouting perspective, Harry Giles stole the show. He's is not only back from his terrible knee injury, he's really, really good. After seeing sophomore DeAndre Ayton in Las Vegas at the LeBron James Skills Academy, you cannot convince me there's anyone in high school with as much long term potential, but Giles along with Ben Simmons are the closest. Giles' combination of agility and power make him a potential superstar in the NBA. He showed a smooth J from mid range and the strength and athleticism to take the ball inside and dunk over opponents through contact. I'm not sure how anyone that attended this event could endorse taking Jahlil Okafor over Giles if both were eligible for the same draft. This guy looked like a future #1 overall pick (2017) in Dubai.
3. The USA Team was not the most organized or motivated, yet their talent and depth made them invincible. How good? Their bench might have been able to win the event. Granted they did have to grind out the win in the final against an overachieving Australia team. But this team saw virtually no drop off when the reserves came in. Had talented junior point guard Dennis Smith been part of the team, they would have rolled over every team by 20 plus points.
4. Japan has a new hope for the future. And he may be the first and only true hope that Japan has had to really make it in the league. 16 1/2 year old, 6-foot-7, 190 lb wing Rui Hachimura led the entire event in scoring, despite the double and triple teams that he faced regularly. I may be a little higher on him than other scouts as I see a guy that can not only play high division one basketball but even become a first round pick in the future. He's a long, rangy athlete, and his arms appear in the 7-foot neighborhood. He's surprisingly polished for a kid that hasn't played against a high level of competition over the past few years. His shot is pure, and his body (big hands, long arms) reminds a little of a mini "Greek Freak's". He appears to have some growing left in his body with big "puppy" hands and feet. He has said he will definitely consider playing NCAA when he's eligible in 2 years. More on him in the next few days.
5. Ivan Rabb and Henry Ellenson both appear to be overrated. On the current ESPN high school rankings in the senior class, these two rate 1st and 5th respectively, and granted both players had stellar summers on the AAU circuit, and were caught in a numbers game playing behind Giles and Stone. Rabb is coming off an ankle injury, but his tendency to not always go strong to the basket remains a real concern. He's got Bosh like tendencies, both the good and bad (soft). Ellenson lacks elite level athleticism to be rated so high and struggles to make plays when he doesn't have momentum. 6-foot-9 Small forward Ben Simmons is clearly the top senior in the nation, but that has been obvious for months now.
6. 6-foot-5 Point Guard Jamal Murray might be the most underrated player in all of high school basketball. His toughness, leadership, and ability to score was on full display in Dubai. His point guard skills are also showing solid progress as he made quality decisions with the ball, setting up teammates for easy baskets and running the pick and roll. He was very impressive, just as he was in Portland playing against the top American kids, 2 years older than himself at the Hoop Summit in April. He's without a doubt an NBA prospect and a likely top 10-20 player in the Junior class, but at this point he's no where to be found on many of the national rankings. It's time that he receives the National attention he deserves.
7. Small forward Josh Jackson is immensely talented, but in need of some swagger. He has spurts where he takes the ball coast to coast and rises up for a dunk in traffic, plays that no one else on the team could make. But then he has stretches where he doesn't assert himself and makes questionable decisions. Granted he is just 16 years old, and it's probably unfair to bash his focus and intensity too much. But this is a kid with a chance to be special. But if he doesn't develop into an alpha dog, he could end up a Rudy Gay type instead of being a top wing in the NBA some day, like he's capable.
8. Team Angola had some very intriguing athletes. If these kid's ages are legit, you can look for one or two of them to play at a high level in NCAA, Europe and possibly even in the NBA. Silvio De Sousa has some Luc Richard Mbah Moute combo forward attributes with his unbelievable body and run/jump athleticism, while Bruno Fernandes appears to be a guy with the interior strength and athleticism to develop into a solid rebounder and post presence.
9. Down Under has a new talent Down Under. Burly Isaac Humphries was one of the younger kids, being an early 1998 born player. He played with as much maturity as anyone. While he's not the superstar prospect of a Harry Giles, he's got some real NBA intrigue in his own right and supposedly has big schools like Duke and KU sniffing around him. He's got good dexterity and really knows how to work in the post once he receives the ball. A potential Brad Miller type if he continues to progress his game and body.
10. Dubai in the middle of August is about as miserable place as you can be outside. Not only was it 115 degrees in the middle of the day, there were sandstorms and terrible humidity. Other than that, it's got a lot to offer as a destination, Las Vegas, Shanghai type of city of the future.
I will break down the players with a more detailed report on the USA team and the top international players over the next few days.
Ok a little over board with Giles over Okafor. Also watched every game and Giles was explosive but he is a good ways behind Okafor as far as post moves. He really didn't show many one on one mobs, most of his points came from offensive rebound and dunks or dish offs. He's a nice sized PF with a pretty good mid range jumper. I'd question taking him over Alexander since Alex is a better rebounder, defender and more aggressive, Giles has more versatility though. Understandable though because young guys always get more hype since they aren't analyzed against top comp as much. Also the competition was lower than what they see during the summer camps over here.
as far as the best player there, clearly Newman. Ran the offense well, scored CONSISTANTLY just about anytime he wanted. Stone is actually more polished than Giles as well but of course with recruiting the hype goes to the more athletic guy even though Stone is no slouch. Just hope the same overhyping doesn't happen like with Deandre Jordan when he was in has dunking on everyone and was projected as the top overall pick on here because of that
Why does it seem that every time African prospects are mentioned there is always the little caveat about whether or not their ages are legit. Get over it already!
I'll start by getting my bias out of the way- I'm Australian, so make of that what you will. I still think Isaac Humphries didn't get much of a mention for a 16 year old that scored a tournament record 41 points to go with 19 rebounds and 6 blocks against Canada. The boxscore said 5 blocks but they missed one.
He's obviously got a lot of improvements to make (especially physically) but his feel for the game, killer instinct, and level-headedness should put him in good stead to succeed.
He's a very intelligent and down to earth kid, which can be seen in his interview on Draft Express.
He's a legitimate 7-footer and is a skillful passer, good rebounder and talented scorer. I think if he tones up his body and works on his athleticism, he could be a really good prospect. If he can lose his puppy fat and improve his explosiveness so he plays more 'above the rim', I think the sky is the limit.
I watched all of Australia's games and his stats were actually less impressive than they could have been if our guards fed him in the post more.
Anyone else see much of him?
Saw him and the rest of his NSW Metro team at the gym last year and to be honest he had trouble doing 10 pushups. So the skys the limit if he gets in shape.