Roy Rana is back coaching the World Team for the fourth time, with consecutive wins bringing his record to 2-1 in the Nike Hoop Summit. With Marin Sedlacek back in his 14th game as assistant coach, the World is hoping to run their winning streak to three. The roster is younger on the whole than last year, which contained a World roster most consider to be the deepest in game history. This year’s group also contains some intriguing prospects and names that will appear in the next few years of NBA Drafts. Here are some observations on each player after the three practices open to scouts and media.
Emmanuel Mudiay (6-5, DR Congo, 1996)
With solid size for even a shooting guard, Mudiay is the class’s top point guard and has really stood out with his dynamic athleticism and leadership. His speed is top notch, he handles the ball quite well and he is adept at getting to wherever he needs to be on the court. He has also shown the ability to be a major threat in the pick-and-roll.
Strength and agility have also really been on display in scrimmage portions of the practices. Shot selection is something that he can definitely work on, as sometimes he has settled from long range or forced some off balance. Even so, he is not someone you want to leave open, making him that much more of a threat off of the dribble or screen.
Defensively, his lateral quickness and aggressiveness have been on display, though his work off of the ball can use refinement. Footwork and change of speed also appear to be areas Larry Brown will focus on once he gets to SMU. If his work in practice is any indication, Mudiay could turn into a major nightmare match-up for the USA on Saturday. Definitely looks to be among the top 2015 Draft prospects, even a possible candidate for the top spot.
Clint Capela (6-11, Switzerland, 1994)
As a run and jump athlete for a big man, Capela is truly in rarified air. He has legitimate center size as far as height and length (7-4.5 wingspan), though he did only measure in at 222 lbs. Still, he is an above the rim threat whose has displayed ability as a rebounder and shot blocker. In the tally of alley-oops and dunks in the three practices, he leads by a wide margin.
The major issue beyond that are his limitations offensively. His shot release tends to be beside his head, forcing his elbow away from his body. He also doesn’t get a clean release from his hand as the ball tends to slip , and his release is very slow. He gets nice elevation on his jumper, though also tends to release the ball on his way down. Ball skills and vision are also two areas in need of work. Even with his lack of polish and offensive potential, his athleticism and physical tools put him in this years first round discussion. Lack of polish may just limit how high he ends up being taken.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (6-6, Ukraine, 1997)
We first reported about this young phenom during the summer after the U16 Championships in Kiev, and though we felt we may have gone overboard a little, he has lived up to the hype thus far. An exciting last minute addition, the youngster from Ukraine, “Svi” is a crafty wing with an advanced skillset for his age. We have hyped up a number of 16 year olds as the best European guard to come along in x number of years (James Birsen, Mario Hezonja etc.), but this time it looks like the real thing. Scouts are truly enamored with this youngster, and playing in front of so many hasn’t seemed to faze him in the slightest bit.
Mykhailiuk has a chance to be as good an International shooting guard as we have seen (Manu or anyone else included). He has been scorching the nets in shooting drills and had a few warm-up dunks that really caught scout’s attention. He has shared time in scrimmages since arriving on Tuesday, though his ball handling ability and passing both have really stood out. With rumors that top colleges are already showing interest, we will have our eyes on him over the next three days. This kid is a natural, and the hype appears to just be beginning with this kid. Buckle up.
Trey Lyles (6-10, Canada, 1995)
Not too many PFs coming out of high school have the skillset Trey Lyles exhibits once he gets the ball in his hands. With an array of step backs and fades, his ability to stretch the floor is made more dangerous by his ability to put the ball on the floor. He has toned his body quite a bit and absolutely appears college ready. While he may not be the typical “one-and-done” you see at Kentucky, he will be a match-up issue for a majority of teams from day one. The key for Trey comes with being more engaged without the ball, which would make him that much more complete as a big.
Karl Towns (7-0, Dominican Republic, 1995)
The lone returnee from last years World team, Towns may have only gained 5 pounds according to the measurements though looks more toned. He also looks to move a bit better, though he still does not really standout athletically. His shot is still something you have to account for, though he has not really shown much off of the dribble to counter. His points near the basket come off of hooks and fades, which are helped by his massive reach. Has shown improvement in a year, though there is still work to do as far as being more comfortable with his back to the basket. Another match-up problem next year, though he may need some time to fill out and hold his own around the basket.
Nikola Jokic (6-11, Serbia, 1995)
The first day of practice, Jokic looked slightly overmatched when facing off against the two future Kentucky posts. On the 2nd day, Jokic had one of the better scrimmage performances I have witnessed in my three years covering this event. First using a sweep middle and utilizing a cut to get inside baskets, he than was given space. Turned out to be a huge mistake, as he drained a barrage of three pointers to lead his team to victory. Measured with a 7-3 wingspan, he uses his size to his advantage as a rebounder and has shown some nice vision. Athleticism is what limits his potential upside as a NBA prospect, though he has really stood out in the last pair of practices thanks to his overall polish offensively.
Damien Inglis (6-8, France, 1995)
His physical dimensions absolutely standout, with a massive wingspan and huge hands. Also weighing in at 240 pounds, he has a body that is looks pro ready. Even with these physical advantages, he also shows skills that are in the realm of a guard or wing. He shows vision and handles the ball well enough to be a legitimate option as a point forward for a team. His physical tools and skill set have made him a standout among the wing players present at this event, not to mention gives him upside as a defender.
Even with all of these advantages, his lack of athleticism and overall basketball IQ make it difficult to classify him as a big time prospect. He is one to watch and certainly will have teams interested due the aforementioned positives, though he seems to be in need of more seasoning before entering his name into the draft.
Jamal Murray (6-4, Canada, 1997)
Having just turned 17, Murray has a mature frame and game that have helped him fit right into this high level event. A combo guard with some point skills, he has switched on and off the ball, for the most part holding his own. While he has had difficulty when being pressured by or defending Emmanuel Mudiay, he has managed to create scoring opportunities while not being completely outmanned. He has been the most consistent long-range shooter in drills and has stroked a few in scrimmages as well. His athleticism may not be elite, but his work ethic and aggression seem to stand out. Looks to have a very bright future and it looks like he gained quite a few fans with his early work.
Brandone Francis (6-4, Dominican Republic, 1994)
The Florida signee has been one of the most vocal players here and is a fiery competitor. More than likely a 2 rather than a 1, he has done an admirable job when given the responsibilities of a primary handler. He has shot pretty well the last few days, though he is probably more of a “scorer” than a “shooter”. Billy Donovan looks to be getting a pretty versatile guard with size to come in and contribute off of the bench. He will probably see time at point during the game and while it will be interesting to see how he handles the USA guards, he will not be too overmatched physically.
James Birsen (6-10, Turkey, 1995)
With wing skills and great size, Birsen was considered one of the top prospects in his age group in the world at the age of 16. At this event, he has often been outmatched and has had a difficult time standing out. His shot has not been falling consistently in drills and he has really had a hard time being matched with Inglis. His mechanics do not appear to be poor, he just does not get much lift and it seems to hit the back rim on his shot quite often. As far as athleticism is concerned, that is definitely not his forte. He can dribble, is not a bad passer and can hit the occasional shot. The first scrimmage he even had some solid drives. Still, for the most part, he has not done much to stand out through the three open practices.
Gao Shang (6-7, China, 1994)
Gao was a standout for China in events such as the Nike Global Challenge, NJIT and for their U19 team. He has a solid build and was known for his ability as a shooter. It could be nerves and a language barrier, but the first two days were really rough for him. One of his handlers even proclaimed, “Is he nervous? I have never seen (him) miss so much in his life!” The third day, it seemed Gao was told to be more aggressive on offense, which actually led to a few baskets, including a strong take which led to an “and one”. Gao also performed better in the drills, showing more confidence in his shot and a cleaner looking form. He has some ability to play, though the culture barrier and short preparation seemed to shake him initially.