Nike Hoop Summit: USA Team Recap
On Saturday, the USA Team's lack of quality point guard play (Marcus Paige injured) was too much to overcome. An average World Team (from a talent standpoint) was able to build a big, early lead and hold on in the end to defeat an undermanned USA squad 84-75.
The USA big men lost the rebounding battle 57-34, with their four bigs accounting for more fouls (8) than points (7). This is a class that has been tagged as lacking overall talent. One star stood out amongst the rest, but this team left with a lot of question marks surrounding what are thought to be some of the best players in this year's high school senior class.
Shabazz Muhammad, SG/SF
In a game that saw the US score fewer points than any team in Hoop Summit history, Shabazz managed to also break the single game scoring record with 35 points. After the World team got off to a quick 10-0 lead, Muhammad was used early and often. Shabazz was head and shoulders the most explosive scoring threat and athlete on Team USA. His teammates deferred to him and expected him to shoulder the bulk of the scoring load. Muhammad took 27 field goal attempts, but this was more out of necessity than excess. His play was one of the only positive things to take away from this team, he rose to the occasion when his team generally floundered. Overpowering opponents is his specialty and it seems that he has a genuine shot to do this even at the highest level. Shabazz was relentless with his offensive aggression, getting double digit FT attempts and making all but his first. He still does not show a great ability to break his man off the dribble, nor off hand use, but his bread and butter seemed to work really well. Going forward, look for Shabazz to be a major offensive threat from the time he steps on campus. His athleticism and power make him a relative match-up nightmare on the wing and his conditioning allowed him to play pretty much the entire game (39 out of 40 minutes). He plays incredibly hard on both ends of the floor, his competitive energy should help to mask some of his deficiencies. Though the Kobe Bryant comparisons seem somewhat unfair, Shabazz has some rare tools that could turn him into a star at the highest level. He stands head and shoulders above his peers at the high school level and should be considered a likely top 5 pick in the 2013 NBA draft barring unforeseen circumstances, with a shot at the top spot.
Nerlens Noel, PF/C
The player who many immediately moved to the top spot of the 2012 HS Class upon his reclassification, Noel was easily the USA's top post presence. After a relatively quiet first half, Nerlens' defense was a major reason for the US team mounting a late game comeback. With 4 blocks and steals, Noel showed why many consider him to be a potential game changer on the defensive end for some lucky college program. He measured at 6'11 with a 7'4 wingspan, which even with his lack of bulk posed issues for opposing players. Nerlens offensive game still appears to be a major work in progress. He finished with 5 points, making both of his FG attempts and 1-4 from the free throw stripe. He is not exactly a lost cause on this end of the floor, but is incredibly raw and seemed to lack awareness and confidence in this aspect of his game. Noel seems to be a definite one and done candidate with lottery aspirations due to his major upside, but he does not have the polish or court awareness to expect him to be a top overall pick at this point.
Kyle Anderson, G/F
"Slo-mo" was the only other player on Team USA to play over 30 minutes with Shabazz Muhammad. He finished with a double-double and team high 4 assists, displaying the versatility that has so many enamored with him as a prospect. Bringing the ball up for a majority of the game, Kyle seemed to have little success initiating a stagnant US offense. He could not generally penetrate the defense and while he forced the issue near the end to get the US within striking distance, it was generally far too late. Measuring at 6'9 with a solid 7'2 wingspan, Anderson is a unique player. At the college level, it appears he will likely be given the ball to run Ben Howland's slower paced UCLA offense. He could indeed excel at this, but it still leaves multiple question marks to his eventual position at the next level. His lateral quickness will never be elite and will more than likely shift him to a forward position off of the ball in most game situations. His skill set to me will warrant him a NBA future, but playing point guard at UCLA might not develop the skills he will eventually need at the NBA level, playing at the 3/4 positions.
Gary Harris, SG
Not the flashiest prospect, Harris struggled shooting in the game but appeared to be one of the better US prospects. Finishing with only 7 points on 10 FG attempts, he shined defensively, guarding Andrew Wiggins for a great deal of the 2nd half where he was generally held in check. Harris displayed scoring potential at the college level and a relatively fluid shooting stroke. While he missed all of his long range attempts in the game, it would not be surprising to see him be an immediate scoring option for Tom Izzo at the college level. The youngest player on Team USA, Harris looks primed for a solid college career and despite being 6'4 could develop into an NBA player down the road.
Archie Goodwin, SG
The starting 2 guard for Team USA, Goodwin finished with 7 points in the game while also struggling to find much of a rhythm. He is best putting the ball on the floor and driving to the basket, with his shooting stroke is a definite work in progress. Not truly contested much on the defensive end of the floor by the World SG's. He seems like a great fit for the dribble drive at Kentucky and has upside as a highly athletic 2 guard. Still, it is not a guarantee that Archie becomes the next NBA player pumped out by Kentucky. He is still a long ways from fully understanding the position and will likely take time and could struggle replacing standout Doron Lamb.
It was a rough game for Rasheed Sulaimon as the Duke commit finished with 3 points shooting 1-10 from the field. The plus side was that he seemed to show some ability to bring the ball up the floor, though in the end he once again had trouble initiating offense for this US bunch. Sulaimon still should have a bright future as a Blue Devil, as he definitely has a very nice shot along with a very competitive attitude. He likely will be an immediate rotation player for Mike Krzyzewski and should more than likely be around Durham for at least the next few years. The NBA could indeed be in his future, but he's closer to DeMarcus Nelson than Austin Rivers and is probably a four year Dukie. His skillset should be a good match with the Duke system that should play well to his strengths.
This was a pretty forgettable game for the starting center on Team USA. He played just 8 minutes, and appears to be a definite work in progress as opposed to a finished product. The positives with Kaleb are he is nearly 7 feet and shows solid run/jump athleticism and a great attitude. He is athletic enough for one to think that the NBA could indeed be in his future one day. He will also be playing with a lot of big bodies at Arizona that should give him a good challenge. Sean Miller will enjoy having him and the odds are he will be around campus for at least a couple of years. It is hard to expect him to burst onto the scene and provide All-Conference impact, but with time and good health, he should be a definite presence in the paint.
Tony Parker, PF/C
Parker played nearly the same amount of minutes as Kaleb Tarczewski, only with more missed shots and fouls. I will say he had at least one shot forced due to shot clock situation, but it seemed he did not get a single attempt in the paint. For those that read the practice report on Parker, the paint is definitely his bread and butter. Anywhere he goes to college should hope that when he gets his shots, he starts with the ball in the middle of the painted area. It might have been the fact that he actually went up against much greater size in the Hoop Summit game than in the practice, but this should be a sign for Parker to go back to his roots. He still should work on his conditioning and his size (6'7 barefoot) as a listed C is not ideal. Parker appears to be a four year college player, and future pro in Europe.
Mitch McGary, PF/C
Listed by many as a PF prospect when he blew up the HS rankings, McGary should focus on using his size and strength as a center. That is more than likely what John Beilein will do with him at Michigan and it seems like he may have a chance to do so for a while. Mitch scored a bucket and grabbed a board in 5 minutes, also accumulating 3 fouls. Truly, Mitch's shaky play in practice was also noticed by Kevin Boyle, as he appeared incredibly reluctant to play him. Mitch may have had a nice summer, but it is a wonder as to how much of that was due to his likely boost of physical maturation he had by being about a year older than most of his peers in the 2012 HS class. Michigan should definitely be glad to get a big guy with the attributes of Mitch, he definitely has potential as a player doing the dirty work. Still, he is very much a work in progress and the raves that came out about him after the Summer of 2011 have appropriately died down to a more "wait and see" approach. His summer appears to have been a flash in the pan, unless he's dealing with injuries that are limiting somehow right now, he's just not the player he was once billed as.
James Robinson, PG
The only "true" PG on the team due to Marcus Paige being sidelined, Robinson started the game but had mostly off the ball duties. He scored a triple and played 18 minutes, but he was relatively quiet in this contest and generally outclassed by the pro level PG's on the International team. Robinson looks like a really solid get for Jamie Dixon, but he's a borderline top 50 prospect in a down year. He has good size and strength for a PG, though his foot speed is not necessarily what you would crave in a PG. He could play both guard positions at the college level, but projecting him any further right now would be highly optimistic.