Last year’s Hoop Summit World Team featured a number of elite players in their respective high school class in Ben Simmons, Skal Labissiere, Cheick Diallo and Jamal Murray, this year it was apparent that there was a pretty significant drop-off in terms of talent. With Roy Rana at the helm for the sixth time as head coach, he entered the game with a great deal of experience and a 3-2 record. On top of the World Team not having the talent they have been accustomed to, they had the daunting task of facing one of the most intimidating teams the USA has assembled in some time. Regardless, there is still quite a bit of potential and the intrigue of one of the more impressive big man prospects that has ever graced this prestigious game. Here is a recap of how they performed in front of scouts over the past week.
Deandre Ayton Bahamas 1998 (6-11.75 (height in shoes), 243, 7-5.5 wingspan, 9-3 standing reach)
Ayton is still a baby in terms of development, but has all of the tools to become a generational big man. With an incredible frame, not unlike how David Robinson looked like during his time at Navy. His run/jump athleticism is absolutely elite, which allows him to claim a great deal of space as a defender and rebounder. While the release on his shot is a bit low and flat-lacking arc. But, he has the range to shoot out to college three-point range at a great clip (near 60% or more during most long range shooting sessions). Right now his back-to-the-basket game is pretty basic, though it is not hard to see him becoming an absolute terror with the muscle he already possesses, along with his very quick feet.
The concerns about Ayton surround his maturity, granted he does not turn 18 until July and certainly seems to have a competitive spirit. Ayton also seemed to communicate well and was engaged when he was around the ball. He was hampered by a few issues including his thumb and at times could be seen reaching for his lower back, both leading to speculation for what might have kept him out of Thursday practice. He has not really dominated scrimmages as some might hope a prospect of his caliber would, though there have been flashes of his huge rebounding radius, rim protection and great hands that allow him to finish through contact as well as in traffic. His off-ball defense and overall focus are both lacking, though once again, given his age, most everything seems to be things that can be improved upon with time. With everything that he brings to the table, it appears just a matter of time before he becomes a dominant big man if he puts in the necessary work.
Isaia Cordinier France 1996 (6-4.75, 177, 6-8 wingspan, 8-6.5 standing reach)
Cordinier certainly possesses nice quickness and solid explosive ability. He rose up for a couple finishes that made spectators at practice take notice. His ball skills also draw some intrigue, as he is seen as a possible combo guard, with the ability to facilitate. Even so, as the final scrimmages unfolded, his overall impact was fairly quiet, as he’s not a consistent outside shooter and still makes questionable decisions. With the overall talent of this years team down from past years, Cordinier is considered one of the standouts for the World, yet he struggled to live up to expectations during the week of practices. His lack of strength, coming in at 177 lbs, also doesn’t help his cause.
Udoka Azubuike Nigeria 1999 (7-0, 299, 7-6 wingspan, 9-4 standing reach)
A late addition that joined the team Wednesday. The first thing you notice about him is that he is absolutely enormous in every way. He has a massive frame and the size to physically wear down the opposition. Unfortunately, it also means that he gets worn out after a few times down the court. What he has shown is a great deal of maturity, willingness to communicate and that he was extremely coachable. With shooting not being a strength, he was receptive to coach Roy Rana trying to raise his shot up, something that seemed to show immediate results. It remains to be seen whether he will follow through with it, though it should be taken as a positive sign.
Besides the attempted higher shooting relaese, it is also clear that he lacks touch around the basket. While his hands may be huge (9.75” length, 10” width, both largest on the team), his reaction time to passes and general movement definitely appears slow. This can also affect him as a defender, as he is not necessarily in the places you would need him to be due to delayed reaction. He can be absolutely stifled by double teams and his footwork is very much a work in progress. His listed birthdate of September 17, 1999 is also difficult to believe. He has gone up against the team USA centers in the past and physically held his own, it will just be about further skill development and improving his conditioning as far as whether he stays competitive with them moving forward.
William McDowell-White Australia 1998 (6-4.75, 180, 6-5 wingspan, 8-1.5 standing reach)
No one on the World team did a better job of controlling the offense than McDowell-White, as he showed that he has the skills to be a NCAA high major PG. He is very creative as a ball handler and passer, creating space with a very nice change of speed. He is a bit methodical with his movement at times, with a fairly slow release on his shot, though even he exceded his reputation, as he even describes this is an area he needs work on. He had a few very nice drives and finds, along with an occasional corner 3 in scrimmages, though at times he definitely takes a bit of a back seat. With his ability to create some things off of the dribble to create space for himself and his teammates, there are things to look forward to as far as McDowell-White’s future development. It’s also apparent that he will need time in college before making assumptions regarding his long-term future.
Harry Froling Australia 1998 (6-11, 261, 6-10.75 wingspan, 8-11.5 standing reach)
With the absence of both Thon Maker and Lauri Markannen, Froling has simply been able to take free reign in the paint during practice scrimmages. He has a soft touch and can make shots over either shoulder, plus he really knows how to carve out space with his body and use his strength to his advantage. While he may lack lift and will need to tone his body, he has a really nice understanding of the game and is a real competitor who does not shy away from contact. Many feel that he should be a great get for Larry Brown and SMU, and he has the skill necessary to give him pro intrigue down the line. If he works on his conditioning, it may help him with his perceived athletic limitations, which would do wonders in proving his worth as an inside-outside big man at the NBA level. Will likely take time, though he has great confidence in his ability and seems to possess a drive to prove people wrong that could prove hugely beneficial moving forward.
Justin Jackson HS Canada 1997 (6-6.75, 229, 7-3 wingspan, 8-7.5 standing reach)
Seems to have aspired to be point forward for quite some time, though he has improved without the ball in his hands and is very much physically ready to play either forward spot at the college level. The stretch four spot may prove to make him a particularly difficult match-up, as despite his lack of ideal height, he has strength, quickness and long arms that could stifle traditional power forwards. He even proved a difficult match-up for DeAndre Ayton when forced to guard him, getting a few open looks or attacking off of the bounce. Unfortunately, he dealt with injuries that kept him out of the last two days of practice. Jackson still absolutely seems to have tools that could make him an effective wing, with focus on improving his off-ball defense and trying to do more as a cutter.
Wesley Silva Brazil 1996 (6-5.5, 189, 6-10 wingspan, 8-7.5 standing reach)
The initial thing that you notice about “Mogi” are his quick reactions in terms of hand-eye coordination. Once he catches the ball, he can get it up to the hoop in a flash, making him a dangerous slasher. His defensive intensity was also impressive at times, with a couple of blocks he pinned against the backboard, while getting quite a few tips and steals in defensive drills and scrimmages. His length absolutely helps and while his athleticism is not all world, he has a bit of wiggle and sneaky bounce. As the oldest player here, he also seems to be a bit raw in terms of creating off the dribble and his consistency as a shooter is still a question mark. He still has shown that he belongs here.
Martynas Varnas Lithuania 1997 (6-6.25, 180, 6-6.25 wingspan, 8-4.5 standing reach)
His shooting mechanics are fairly pristine, and he has been deadly if given space as a spot-up shooter. While he also appears to be a fundamentally sound player, he has not shown much in terms of getting his own shot or attacking off the dribble against over pursuit. His hands also measured as the smallest on the team (7.5” length, 6.75” width), which could pose problems in terms of controlling the ball. He is absolutely dangerous to leave open, but he has not seemed to offer much more than that, which he likely needs to show to garner interest in someone with his lack of ideal length and explosiveness.
Edin Atic Bosnia & Herzegovina 1997 (6-7, 195, 6-9.75 wingspan, 8-6 standing reach)
Atic did seem to show some ability to put the ball on the floor and is a really solid passer. He also showed some intensity as a defender, creating some tips and steals in both defensive drills and translating that to scrimmages. While his shooting mechanics are not necessarily a thing of beauty and he wavered in terms of his consistency during long-range drills, he is not someone you can discount when he is on the perimeter. He also had some nice finishes and used the rim to protect his drives quite well. Atic was one of the more complete wings on the team who possesses maturity and focus that shows his pro pedigree.
Fan ZiMing China 1998 (6-11.5, 250, 7-0.5 wingspan, 9-0.5 standing reach)
From the outset, one could see his effort, as Fan even showed it as the guy out front during stretches and his focus during drill work. His translator introduced himself as his sister and would give him diligent orders that he would follow to a tee, so it was clear that this discipline runs in the family. He seems to have a nice touch out to 15-18 feet, knocking down open jumpers and even showing a fade away to counter the more physically imposing big men. His lack of lift is pretty apparent, but he runs the floor hard and when other bigs got physical, he was not afraid to engage in battle. His upside is a bit limited and he is very much a below the rim player, which also limited him defensively as a rim protector. In the end, he certainly used the weekend to his benefit, while he was well liked by both coaches and teammates.
Andres Feliz Dominican Republic 1997 (6-1.25, 182, 6-2.5 wingspan, 7-10 standing reach)
The teams other designated PG along with McDowell-White, Feliz showed some good quickness and had some ability to get into the teeth of the defense. He also was very inconsistent shooting the ball and would be bothered by pressure given his size once he was surrounded down low. He led the U19 FIBA World Championships in scoring average (18.9 ppg) and certainly seems to flash some ability to be a solid scoring guard with some shot creating ability once he gets to college. All in all, his being the smallest player here often had him overmatched and he will need to improve in many facets to garner high-level pro credibility.
Kostas Antetokounmpo Greece 1998 (6-9.75, 188, 7-1.75 wingspan, 8-11.5 standing reach)
Kostas was a last minute addition to the squad and he did show some flashes in defensive drills, where his length could definitely bother out on the perimeter. He still suffered from inconsistency in shooting drills, nor was he incredibly confident pulling up during a game. His body may show similarity to Giannis, but he absolutely will need to gain strength going forward and his ball skills do not seem to be near where his brothers was during the time he was drafted. It was well known that Kostas was a work in progress and he was forced to maybe play a bit out of position at the 4 spot due to roster limitations, it just also seems that the game is very fast for him right now. He will need time in the weight room and to work on skill development before seeing him play a role at the college level. His physical attributes and agility do give him quite a bit of potential down the road, though it was quite obvious that we saw him in his very raw stage during this week of Hoop Summit practices.
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