The World Select Team defeated the USA team 97-89 in an exciting and highly
competitive match up in at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon on Saturday night.
Coach Rob Beveridge got his first win after losing his first 4 as the World
Team Coach.

I got a chance to talk to Beveridge after the plane ride (to San Francisco,
he was en route to back to Australia) and he attributed the win to having a
great group of kids and mentioned the zone defense they worked on all week,
and employed, really confused and neutralized the USA talent.

In the end the World Team wanted it more as the USA guys treated it more like
another All Star game, instead of protecting their home court. Despite the chants
of U-S-A, they let the game slip away late. This is far too talented a group
to lose, but the better collective team beat the individual talent of the American

Friday Practices

DeMarcus Cousins
& John Wall

On Friday I got a chance to attend both the USA and World
Team practices at the Portland Trailblazers practice facility. The contrast
between the practices was extreme as the International squad came in extremely
focused working on their offensive half court game plan as well as breaking
the press and half court zone defense. There were some individual 1-1 drills
but overall the focus was team oriented.

The USA practice was cut short from two hours to one and much more casual as
the players shot around and seemed to be much more focused on keeping things
fun as opposed to working on implementing any last minute plays or specific
aspects of the team game.

The USA guys came in acting as if they owned the place, and at one point they
were just having way too much fun (foreshadowing of things to come).

They hammed it up guarding one another loosely before breaking off for a 1-on-1
3 point shoot off, best of 15 shots. Xavier Henry and Avery Bradley squared
off and after shooting his 15, Bradley taunted Henry ala the Gilbert Arenas
vs DeShawn Stephenson shooting contest distracting Henry by flailing his arms.
To which Henry objected and was awarded an extra shot. Both players ended up
even at 9-15 a piece and had a 5 shot shoot off to decide the winner. Henry
knocked down all 5 to advance.

Jon Wall hit 11 of 15 in his first round beating Abdul Gaddy and 13-15 in the
second round topping Plumlee. His shot is a bit flat as he doesn’t get much
elevation and doesn’t have a perfect release, but obviously it has shown solid
improvement and can improve further.

Wall then faced off with Henry and the two ribbed each other and neither wanted
to shoot first. Henry ended up going first and went completely cold missing
his first 6 and ending up hitting just 4, which Wall was able to top after just
10 shots. The final put Mike Moser against Wall to decide the top shooter of
the contest. Moser knocked down his first 11 finishing 14-of-15 easily beating
Wall who got up to 4 before missing 2 in a row ending the competition.

Wall could ultimately end up at Kentucky based on the practice vibe. Cousins
and Wall appear to be extremely tight (see photo) as the two squared off playing
one on one for a good 10-15 minutes while other players shot jumpers.

USA Team

John Wall
Photo: Jon Trull

John Wall — 13 pts, 6-12
fg, 0-2 3p, 11 ast, 1 reb, 3 to, 5 stl — Was extremely impressive in both the
practice on Friday and the game. Wall has superstar potential and the personality
and charisma to be a marketing magnet.

Set the single game record for the Hoop Summit with 11 assists and tied the
mark for steals with 5. Had a number of breath taking plays including a dunk
in which he shifted in mid air to get by the defender before floating around
him for a baseline two handed dunk. He also had a block on Seraphin from behind
in which he almost jumped over Kevin for the rejection.

He has elite level athleticism and speed at the point guard position reminiscent
of Derrick Rose, only Wall is longer and even more fluid. His body however isn’t
as strong as Rose’s was entering college nor are his point guard skills as polished.
He plays the game with a confidence and swagger and there are few that can match
up with his size, speed and athleticism at the lead guard position.

Although he still has some ironing out to do with his outside shooting and point
guard play, the makings are there for him to become a superstar at the NBA level.

A year in college should be big in preparing him for the next level, and while
he was unable to lead the USA squad to victory, more of that blame should fall
on the shoulders of bigmen Renardo Sidney and DeMarcus Cousins, as the USA squad
was outrebounded 49-28.

Wall should focus on not playing with quite the reckless abandon he played with
in the Hoop Summit as there were 2-3 times where he appeared close to sustaining
an injury, and that’s too much risk for just one game. (sort of like early Jordan
having to learn not to take quite so many chances with his ungodly leaping ability).

DeMarcus Cousins — 4 pts, 1-6 fg, 5
reb, 4 ast, 2 stl, 18 min — Cousins is an immensely talented kid with guard
skills in a 6-11 250 lb frame. He can handle the ball, pass, and has a nice
shooting form with range. But in both the practice and game Cousins was very
unimpressive, appearing unfocused and unwilling to put much work in.

The USA squad was outrebounded 48-29 and as a 6-11 250 lb bigman with a 7-3
wingspan, he should have have had 10 rebounds in his sleep. Simply put he got
his ass kicked by a player with 1/4 the athletic talent in Milan Macvan.

He appears to be a guy that will keep things together long enough to get paid
(NBA first round money), but his motivation and work ethic (at least in Portland)
appeared highly questionable.

Cousins doesn’t have the hunger to dominate at this point. If he works hard
on his body leading up to his freshman season and dedicates himself to being
great, he’s got a chance to be a one and done top 10 pick. But he sure didn’t
leave a strong impression on scouts in Portland.

Xavier Henry

Xavier Henry — 22
pts, 7-12 fg, 6-11 3p, 2-2 ft, 28 min — A bigtime athlete and shooter, Henry
looks like a lock to be a NBA starter. His upper body is incredibly strong and
chiseled for an 18 year old and he has a great attitude.

Xavier mentioned during the practice that he was close to being back to 100%
now and feeling good. His outside shot during the game was money (6 for 11 from
3) as he came up with a number of clutch 3 pointers in the second half. He impressed
in the practice as well with his long range accuracy.

He did not show a great first step or the ability to get to the rim off the
dribble relying more on his perimeter shot. It’s possible that the extra bulk
and less penetration has to do with him working his way back from the car accident.

Henry doesn’t need to add any strength, and if anything he’ll need to make sure
he doesn’t get too bulky as his body type is extremely thick for a 2-guard already.
Which could be LeBron’s influence.

He appears to be too bulked up and could use some work on toning and flexibility
and improving his speed and quickness. Right now the thickness in his lower
body cuts down his burst off the dribble and his start/stop speed to a degree.

It appears that Kansas and Kentucky have the best chance of pulling Henry away
from Memphis. Despite the fact that he has been let out of his LOI, Memphis
remains in the mix.

Mason Plumlee — 2 pts, 1-3 fg, 2 reb,
2 blk, 16 min — You couldn’t help but wonder if Plumlee had been on the International
team, or a player from Europe whether he would already have a much bigger reputation
as an NBA prospect.

Plumlee didn’t get much of a chance to show himself in the game but the kid
has an impressive combination of length, fluidity and shooting ability. Look
for him to develop into a star at Duke in the next 2-3 years and have a good
chance to play at the NBA level.

He’s a better athlete and a more impressive prospect than more highly rated
recruit Ryan Kelly.

Abdul Gaddy — 3 pts, 1-3 fg, 1-2 3p, 13
min — Lacks the bravado and attitude of the other USA team members. In the
practice he was reserved though focused. While not a freak athlete or exceptionally
fast, Gaddy has a real solid understanding of the point guard position with
excellent size.

He struggled to get anything going in the game knocking down just one 3 pointer
and was relegated to the bench for much of the game. Regardless, he appears
to have a bright future. Look for him to become a standout college point guard
at Washington and ultimately develop into a pro.

Avery Bradley
Photo: Jon Trull

Avery Bradley — 21
pts, 10-14 fg, 1-3 3p, 3 reb, 1 ast, 29 min — Bradley looked great in both
the practice and game. He’s small but makes up for it with good length (wingspan)
and athleticism.

Similar to Monta Ellis, Bradley has tremendous body control around the basket
and the ability to get to the rim as well as knock down outside shots making
him tough to contain. He appears much more comfortable playing off the ball,
than playing point guard and he would be best advised to focus on playing off
the ball at Texas.

He’s very focused and has shown tremendous improvement over the past year and
a half, having helped Findlay Prep win a High School National Championship.
Despite being an undersized wing, he’s a dynamic talent with a chance to be
a lottery pick after a year or two at Texas.

Renardo Sidney — 6 pts, 2-8 fg, 2 reb,
4 ast, 1 to, 3 stl, 21 min — On the positive side, Sidney showed his versatility
early with a steal, bringing the ball up the floor for an excellent feed to
Bradley for a dunk. He also flashed nice passing ability throughout the game
on outlets that created easy baskets for teammates, finishing with 4 assists.

He was added to the squad after Derrick Favors was dropped from the USA Team
apparently for asking for too many favors (four plane tickets to the event).
What a difference Favors would have made for this team instead of Sidney (who
essentially duplicated Cousins only with even less motivation and effectiveness).

Unfortunately Sidney appears to be a tragic case of a player that was highly
rated early and bought into his own hype and will fall far short of his potential.
Similar to Derrick Caracter, Sidney doesn’t appear to have any passion left
for the game or the work ethic to improve. He’s a shell of the prospect he was
3 years ago, and although he still appears as a top 10 recruit on many lists,
it wouldn’t be surprising to see him never become a first round pick.

He’s blessed with rare skills in a 6-9 body, but his window of opportunity appears
to be closing rapidly. His body appears incredibly soft (he has man-boobs),
and his reaction speed decreases as game situation importance increases. Sidney
was once upon a time considered the top player in his class and a lock future
pro, but now it’s questionable if he can even cut it in the NBA.

Maybe Tim Floyd can light a fire under him and motivate him, since nobody else
apparently has been able to.

John Henson
Photo: Jon Trull

John Henson — 10 pts,
5-9 fg, 9 reb, 2 blk, 17 min — Henson was the leading rebounder for the USA
squad with 9, despite playing just 22 minutes. He definitely should have been
in the game in the final 3 minutes instead of Sidney who was absolutely useless.

Henson has a long ways to go but shows a great deal of upside. But at his current
weight, he has no NBA position.

He’s incredibly long and athletic and shows an excellent skill set with the
ability to score around the basket as well as knock down midrange jumpers. But
he still must develop a much nastier on court demeanor. He needs around 30-35
pounds and a mean streak. He shows some ability to create for himself, but nothing
that would indicate that he can play on the perimeter at the NBA level.

Regardless, with such immense potential, he appears to be a likely future lotto
pick. However, he more than anyone would benefit from 2-3 years in college to
allow his body to develop and to improve his skill level.

He’s a better shooting version of Brandon Wright, but even skinnier, and without
quite the length.

Leslie McDonald — 8 pts, 4-10 fg, 2
reb, 19 min — Looked extremely impressive in the practice hanging out with
his UNC buddy Henson. His athleticism is above average and he’s got a very strong
body which should allow him to overcome his lack of optimum size at 6-4.

McDonald shows the ability to get to rim and finish as he has a quick first
step and good touch and body control around the basket.

Although Dexter Strickland is a more highly rated recruit, McDonald appears
to have more long term potential. No question, McDonald is small for the 2g
position at the NBA level but has a great body and explosiveness. He should
be an excellent 3-4 year player at North Carolina.

Mike Moser — 0 pts, 0-3 fg, 0-2 3p, 4 reb,
2 ast, 1 blk 9 min — Moser got the biggest ovation from the crowd as the local
kid. He was a little out of place with the rest of the talent in the game, but
fit in for the most part. Although he struggled to contribute much in the game.

USA Team Head Coach John Olive gave his assessment of Moser’s game saying that
he’s a very hard working kid with nice potential but he’s a cut below the rest
of the kids in terms of speed and athleticism.

I watched him knock down 14-of-15 3 pointers (11 in a row) winning the informal
shooting contest besting the other USA team members, so obviously the kid has
shooting ability. He’s got the length and potential to make it to the NBA someday,
however he lacks elite foot speed and explosiveness which means he will need
to develop his body and skill set at UCLA over the next 3-4 years to get there.

World Team

The World Team didn’t nearly have the overall talent of the USA squad. Every
single USA player could potentially make the NBA someday, whereas the World
team likely has just 4-5 players that are potential NBA guys (Motiejunas, Zubcic,
Seraphin, Jackson and possibly Macvan).

Donatas Motiejunas

Donatas Motiejunas
— 21 pts, 5-15 fg, 1-2 3p, 10-14 ft, 8 reb, 3 ast, 2 to, 29 min — On Friday
in practice he and Zubcic went at each other in the 5-5 half court offense.
Both were able to get by the other off the dribble for baskets, Motiejunas’
coming in the form of an explosive dunk, while Zubcic went left for a lay in.

A number of scouts had come in from Portsmouth (PIT) for the Friday practice
and game, and Motiejunas was extremely impressive in both. His lefty midrange
and outside shot is highly effective. He was also handling the ball in the full
court as they worked on breaking the press and made excellent passes.

His start/stop speed and agility is extremely impressive for a 7 footer, although
he’s definitely a 4 and not a 3. He’ll likely be a quick, finesse 4 ala Chris
Bosh. He needs to add strength and get tougher in the paint.

Although the USA team’s bigmen took the weekend off, Motiejunas showed the ability
to play with American athletes and appears to have the most long term potential
of any bigman prospect in the game.

Nikos Pappas — 10 pts, 4-6 fg, 1-2 fg,
3 ast, 3 to, 24 min — Pappas did a solid job in the game despite lacking the
speed and athleticism to match up with the USA guards.

He’s a good shooter with an excellent feel for the game and had a solid performance
shooting 4-6 from the field.

He always seems to make good decisions, never rushing things or getting out
of control.

The NBA appears to be out of reach because of his lack of physical tools, mainly
foot speed, but he can become a nice player in Europe.

Kevin Seraphin

Photo: Jon Trull

Kevin Seraphin
8 pts, 4-9 fg, 9 reb, 4 blk — Was the breakout player of the event, as he was
little known going into it. His 7-foot-3 wingspan, muscular body and explosive
leaping ability make him an excellent shot blocker, and rebounder.

He’s got a gregarious personality making a lot of friends on the World team
despite the fact that his English is very limited. He also has a great on court
demeanor as he was an absolute beast in the paint all week in practice and in
the game. He didn’t do much this season with his pro team, which is understandable
as he’s still very raw offensively after picking the game up late, (around 2003
when he was 14).

Seraphin has good long term potential if he can continue to improve his shooting
ability and post skills. Right now, he’s got a ways to go as most of his offense
comes via garbage baskets and put back slams.

He will be automatically eligible in 2011 and if he doesn’t improve dramatically,
he could end up a second round guy who remains in Europe for a few years to

Edwin Jackson — 5 pts, 2-7 fg, — Faced
off with John Wall for a good portion of the game and while he was outclassed
athletically, Jackson did a good job of staying with him and not getting completely

Jackson showed a mature game making good passes and taking shots when he was
open. He struggled to contribute offensively but kept competing, making a nice
play late to get Wall off his feet and draw a foul (a play that could have easily
resulted in an injury for Wall).

He’s more of a 2-guard but has combo skills. His speed and athleticism are what
gives him a great chance to make it in the NBA someday plus having a dad who
was a pro, he seems to have a great understanding of what it takes to get there.

Milan Macvan

Milan Macvan — 23
pts, 9-17 fg, 2-5 3p, 14 reb, 6 ast, 4 to, 33 min — Was the biggest reason
the World team won, his heart and toughness was contagious.

He spent much of the game lobbying the refs but in the end, his mind was on
winning and not the officials.

Although his NBA potential appears limited, Macvan’s basketball IQ and skill
level is off the charts for a player his age giving him an outside chance. He
has a big wingspan and excellent offensive skills using angles and his body
to clear space for shots against better athletes.

Look for Macvan to be a highly successful player in Europe, despite lacking
great athletic ability.

Matias Nocedal — 3 pts, 1-2 fg, 1-2 3p,
2 ast, 2 reb, 14 reb — We hyped him a few years back as a likely NBA player
someday with great upside. But unfortunately that looks to have been premature
as he hasn’t grown physically and his game hasn’t seen much development either.

He’s a solid player who works hard and wants to improve, but his skill level
and athleticism don’t appear to be at a high enough level to get to the NBA.

Mamadou Samb — 0 pts, 0-0 fg, 4 reb, 9
min — The once hyped Senegalese forward no longer appears to be an NBA prospect.
His body is very long, but extremely frail and it doesn’t appear that he can
add the necessary strength to be an NBA player.

Samb has a great attitude and has improved on his outside shooting. He had some
nice plays in the practice converting on some tip ins and making some nice blocks
and rebounds. However in the game, his lack of strength and quickness was exposed
by the American team, and he struggled to gain PT (9 min).

Tomislav Zubcic

Photo: Jon Trull

Tomislav Zubcic
— 17 pts, 4-9 fg, 8-9 ft, 1-2 3p, 2 ast, 1 to, 19 min — Zubcic came off the
bench giving the World team a shot in the arm and insuring there wasn’t any
letdown when the reserves began to come in, which proved to be an excellent

The long, versatile wing did a great job driving the ball and drawing fouls
and converting (8-9 ft). He played just 19 minutes but was very effective when
he was in tallying 17 points.

At one point he grabbed a rebound and got picked up off the ground from behind
by Demarcus Cousins, which he didn’t seem to appreciate too much.

Looked a lot more confident and sure of himself than in Dallas last summer.
He’s still in need of weight as he will be shoved around, but his skill level
and foot speed for a 6-11 kid makes him very intriguing.

Mateo Gaynor — 4 pts, 2-2 fg, 1 ast, 1
to, 9 min — Argentinean with solid length but lacks an athletic body and much
strength. He has a good shooting form and a solid understanding of the game.
Likely a kid for lower level Europe. Came up big in the game with a perfect
2-2 fg performance in limited minutes.

Zhang Dayu — 6 pts, 3-6 fg, 10 min — Showed
some solid qualities. He’s not a great athlete, but fluid for a 7 footer. Has
a good jumpshot when left open as he displayed in both the practice and game.
Lacks great leg strength, he doesn’t have good balance on his feet and is slow
to move laterally or start and stop.

He got lost a few times around the basket getting himself too far under the
rim. NBA appears to be a longshot for him.



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