By Eric Guilleminault and Michael Visenberg
Hamidou Diallo 7/31/1998 HS Junior 6-5 180 PG/SG Guinea
With fearless playmaking, electrifying drives and sensational all around play, Hamidou was the breakout star of adidas Nations. A combo guard, Hamidou has the ability to create for himself and for others. The US born Guinean from Queens, New York and entering his junior year at Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut, Diallo led by the tremendous African Team assembled by coach Babacar Sy. Along with high level talents Wenyen Gabriel and Alpha Diallo, he proved one of the best guards at Nations. He finished as the 6th leading scorer at the event at 19.5 ppg. A playmaker who appears wired to score more than distribute, Hamidou is incredibly explosive and a quick leaper. He knows how to create space on his jump shots and is effective using head fakes and jab steps for mid-range shots. He also has great playmaking ability, with good handles and a strong crossover. He demonstrated strong athleticism at Nations going to the hole for strong one handed flushes or absorbing contact to get to the free throw line.
While he has an advanced skill set to create space for his shot, he needs to continue to develop a consistent follow through on his outside shot. His 3-point and free throw shooting percentage numbers at Nations were certainly not highlights of his event performance (18.5% from 3 and just under 60% from the free throw line). In his defense, more often than not he was the player Africa went to at the end of shot clock. The native New Yorker has an edge to him and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He has got very strong legs. But, with his ability to go to the hole and get foul calls, he will need to continue to gain strength and improve his shooting consistency.
Wenyen Gabriel 3/26/1997 HS Senior 6-9 185 SF/PF Sudan
Wenyen Gabriel came in as one of the biggest rising prospects on the summer circuit and he did not disappoint at Nations. On the slim side, his pro future probably lies at SF as opposed to PF. He led the tournament in rebounding at 14.7 rpg and blocks at 2.8 bpg; all while scoring 17.7 ppg, making him one of two players to average a double-double. A relentless rebounder, he has the unique ability of being quick to jump off the floor to rebound on both ends of the floor. This unique skill allows him to grab a tipped rebound and to be in a good defensive position to block or alter a shot. He has good hands and despite his skinny frame, was able to score at times through contact. Babacar Sy’s squad relied on him greatly and he was able to play major minutes, which kind of took a toll as the tournament progressed. Even so, he had an absolute spectacular couple of games on Saturday, with two games of 20-20 in both points and rebounds.
At his height, he showed good rotation on his shot and some advanced offensive moves. He had a strong repertoire facing the basket with some ability to shoot the three, as he can jab step, create space, something you rarely see at the high school level for a player his size, and hit the mid range jumper. He can create off the dribble and in one instance from the wing; he came down the lane with a strong left-handed flush. His moves are quick and fluid making it seem like it comes naturally for him. With his speed and shooting touch he has shown some real upside, but for the next level he needs to continue to work on his body. Gabriel will need to add strength without losing speed while continuing to develop and harness his skills as a wing. Right now many of his best qualities seem to be that of a post player and while he flashed some perimeter skills, it will require a great deal of girth for him to make a successful transition.
Wesley Alves da Silva 5/2/1996 6-5 190 SG/SF Brazil
Wesley led the tournament in scoring at 23.8 ppg and started with a bang on the first day as he went toe to toe with Dennis Smith for 3 quarters, before fading in the 4th. He is a good one-on-one player who plays best with the ball in his hands. He has a quick first step as well as some flashiness to his game, with a strong crossover and spin move. He looks to attack the rim when in pick-and-roll situations, finishing strong with either a two hand or one hand flush. He shows some refinement in his game, going to the basket strong, yet avoiding charges with a good euro step with nice touch on his floater. He also had strong rebounding numbers for a wing, averaging 7.3 rpg, due mainly to his good leaping ability.
In terms of weaknesses, he was a year older than most high school seniors, plus still needs to add some strength and weight to his frame. He can lose focus and fall asleep at times on the defensive end. He also needs to continue to expand his range and add it to his offense as he only took a couple 3’s (although he did hit both). Lastly, the ball sticks too his hands at times, as he can become prone to over dribbling by trying to make a play for himself or for a teammate instead of quickly rotating the ball. This leads to turnovers off of deflections, double teams and bad shots at times. Overall, he was the standout prospect for Team Latin-America and greatly impacted games for them.
Alpha Diallo 6/29/1997 6-6 190 HS Senior SG/SF Guinea
Alpha Diallo, who is a cousin of Hamidou, both born in the US, was one of the biggest surprises of the event. A point-forward for Denver, Colorado, he scored over 20 points in his last 4 games, joining Wenyen Gabriel as the other player to average a double-double during the tournament, with final averages of 20.5 ppg and 10.7 rpg. He showed some range on his jump shot, though was at his best creating off of the dribble and slashing to the hoop. He is sort of a poor man’s Boris Diaw, and he was relentless in the 3rd place game for Africa, going on a mini-run to begin the 2nd half on his way to 30 points, 13 rebounds and 3 assists. He is extremely calm with the ball in his hands, even under pressure, and is more crafty than explosive as far as getting looks. In the end, college teams looking for a wing player should definitely invest a look in Alpha, as he certainly showed some good qualities and above average focus for a player his age. He appears to be a legit top 50 level high school player.
Mamadi Diakite 1/21/1997 HS Senior 6-9 200 PF Guinea
Diakite is a recent Virginia commit and reportedly will be headed to Charlottesville immediately. He tied for the camp lead with 2.8 bpg, though missed a game due to an issue with his back. The gregarious big man has the potential to become a stretch 4 at the next level and is solid around the basket. He has some post moves and some good touch around the basket, though his footwork down low is still a work in progress. He has an infectious personality, showing a very positive effect on his teammates, and has the looks of being a great locker room guy.
While he has a strong idea where he is going with his post moves, they are not always fluid and his at times mechanical approach will make his moves less effective at the next level. His poor free throw shooting is not an indication on his shot, as his form seems to be workable, but he needs to continue to develop his skill level if he wants to gain value offensively. He has only been in the U.S. for a short time, though he impressed with his ability to communicate with his teammates and all-around energy. It will take some time, but Diakite has the height, athleticism and attitude that make him a potential NBA prospect with more experience.
Lamine Diane 11/7/97 6-7 SG/SF Senegal
Lamine was discovered at the Baskeball Without Borders Africa event in 2014 where he won the High Flyer Award. At Nations he showed flashes of potential. He has good jumping ability and good range with an extremely high arcing shot. He has a long wingspan and has the potential in becoming a 3 and D player. He is however extremely raw with ball handling skills, spacing, and shot selection things that need the most development. Those around him expect big improvement over the few years.
Koby McEwen 7/29/1997 HS Senior 6-2 175 PG Canada
Having played the last couple of years at Wasatch Academy, McEwen had built up somewhat of a reputation coming into Nations. He was the go-to scorer and creator for a Team Canada that finished with an impressive 3-1 record, only losing a close game to Africa that kept them out of the semifinals. The beat one of the USA teams by 60. He is able to use a quick first step and change of speed to attack the basket, also flashing a competent outside game. More of a score first player, he still needs to work on his explosiveness when attacking the basket and does force the issue at times. With some work on his body and a refinement in his shot selection, McEwen should be on the radar for some high major schools. -Michael Visenberg
Nolan Narain 8/30/1997 6-9 210 PF Canada
Narain may have been further along than just about any other “stretch 4” at the event, as he has range out to the three-point line and a soft touch. Though he still needs to add a great deal of upper body strength, his body has developed to turn him into a very tough match-up here. He has solid length and showed some willingness to mix it up on post defense, although he will need to continue to work in this area. Committed to San Diego St., he could be on campus sooner rather than later and he will take some time, but should definitely pay off for the Aztecs. Even with a lack of top-notch athleticism, he was a difficult match-up for the more highly regarded prospects on Africa. With more work on his post game, this should make him that much more appealing for the pro level when the time may come. -Michael Visenberg
Simi Shi’ttu 11/7/1999 HS Sophomore 6-9 210 PF Canada
Still only 15 years old, this was Simi’s 2nd adidas Nations camp, as he showed definite improvement as far as his body and his confidence. His shooting ability and ball skills have both improved a great deal and even though he did not register a block, he was definitely a defensive presence and was able to compete with players who were the for the most part two years his senior. Serving mostly as an energy player, Simi scored off of the cut, off of put backs and had some thunderous finishes at the rim. While both his jumper and ball skills are still in raw stages, his athleticism and body for his age group were as evident here as they were when he pushed the US team to the brink in the U16 FIBA Americas. Moving on to Montverde Academy for his sophomore season, Simi will be going up against big time power players and even further develop as an all-around player. Simi has high-level upside with the potential to join the Class of 2018 top prospects. -Michael Visenberg
Nickeil Alexander-Walker HS Junior 6-5 165 SG Canada
Alexander-Walker did not have the most consistent couple of days during Nations, though he has nice size for a SG and seems to still be growing into his body. Right now he is rather slight and his lack of strength could serve as an issue when he attacks the hoop, but he is nearly ambidextrous, with ball skills that could make him a combo-guard and really nice court vision. This could be a player who with some physical growth takes a large position on the team next summer. -Michael Visenberg
Kouat Noi 10/29/1997 HS Senior 6-6 190 SF Australia
Kouat Noi spent last year at Montverde Academy and should get more exposure with their main varsity team this season. He was one of the leading scorers at Nations, averaging 19 ppg in the 3 games he played. Noi is a strong attacking wing that is at his best in transition. He has a strong motor and thick body, with a similar build to Team Rose’s Rawle Alkins. He is a difficult match-up to get off the blocks and can be a menace for offensive rebounds. He benefited statistically by playing on one of the weaker teams at Nations and has some aspects he needs to add to become more of a complete player. He needs to continue to work on his handle and shooting consistency. With long arms and some nice athleticism, Noi showed some upside on the wing.