By Michael Visenberg
There were a lot of really interesting prospects in Portland at the 2010 Nike Global Challenge that should impact the 2012/2013 drafts, and into the future. I will give some notes about the players I saw and some players that stood out.
James McAdoo: The Team USA player of the year 2009 and UNC commit averaged 24 ppg (on nearly 23.7 shots per game and 11 makes per game, meaning he did not get to the line very often) to go along with 12.3 rpg and 3 blocks. His team finished 5th, beating USA West in the 5th place game. He made a good decision to finish his senior year of HS rather than going to NC early, as he will be much better prepared for the college game with one more year of seasoning, and should be an instant impact player in 2011-12.
Nick Johnson: Has been very impressive this summer, averaged 27 per game for USA West. He is the nephew of the late Hall-of-Famer and former NBA Finals MVP Dennis Johnson. A tweener at 6’3 but one heck of an athlete, and has garnered numerous high major offers. Was at Findlay Prep, but has transferred to a school closer to his home. He is one to watch.
Jabari Brown: Johnson’s backcourt mate and in many cases an even higher rated player, averaged 21.7 but shot poorly for a West team might have finished higher than they did. Has garnered offers from all over and it appears Kansas has a good shot at landing him along with numerous Pac-10 schools as he is from Oakland, California.
Rakeem Christmas Announced he was committing to Syracuse right before the tournament began. He’s a physical specimen with incredible length and specmen type physique. He was extremely impressive in the warm ups. In the games he led all players in blocks with 5 per game, however he got into foul trouble and it cost him minutes. He also showed some things that made people question his attitude on the floor.
Bobby Parks: Played on All-Asia, did not get a chance to see him but he is listed as a 6’5 PG born in 1993 and averaged 22 points per game.
Lucas Nogueira: Coming off his coming out party in San Antonio at the U18 Championships, the 7′ Brazilian center had a solid tournament, and Brazil kept both of its losses as tight games, losing to eventual champions USA South in the first game and USA East in the second. Lucas had a considerable size advantage and averaged nearly a double double, but his offense was well behind his defense and has a ways to go. He is very slight, so he will need to build up his strength to be a true center prospect. Scouts had some attitude concerns with him in San Antonio but here he looked fine and played very well.
Johnny O'Bryant: USA-West hybrid 4/5 prospect averaged 19 and 12, including a ridiculous 9 offensive rebounds per game. Got to the line a lot, though he did not convert at a steady clip (seemed to be a theme with most players), but his other numbers are very encouraging. Considered a top-20 prospect in 2011.
Nigel Williams-Goss: The Portland native was one of two 2013 prospects playing for the USA teams and seemed to log solid minutes and production on the East. Has been on the radar since he was a 7th grader, and will continue to play for Las Vegas based Findlay Prep next year. One of the top rated prospects in his class, has a very high basketball IQ and gets the job done. Averaged 5.3 assists over the tourney.
Canada faced France who was INSEP of France who essentially brought their B-team over. They were not loaded with the players that helped them capture the U18 Junior title at the Final Four. They were led by guards and shot fairly well. Robust PG Benjamin John was the leading scorer, but the most interesting prospect was speedy 6 foot Ulysse Adjagba. William Howard is a sweet shooting 2 guard and hit some three’s to keep the game close, but Canada had the definite advantage in size and athleticism, and had a very strong performance from lead guard Kevin Pangos.
Canada was full of intriguing prospects and had a few definitely stand out:
Khem Birch: The biggest standout to me. He is long and a great run and jump athlete. The forward needs to work on his shooting mechanics, like most young bigs his age, and scores most of his posts off of put backs and dunks, but is a very intriguing prospect who has a nose for the ball. Seemed to be all over the court and put forth a great effort to track down rebounds and block shots outside of the paint. Posted tournament averages of 22.7 ppg, 13 rpg and 4.3 bpg (second only to Rakeem Christmas). Was named the tournaments international MVP. Definitely a player to keep an eye on and one of the more intriguing, athletic bigs in a strong 2012 class.
Kevin Pangos: Definitely Canada’s leader, has been given the unenviable comparison of being the next Steve Nash. While it is unfortunately a comparison that seems completely unachievable, Pangos none the less impressed me. He can definitely shoot the ball and he has very strong court awareness. A few errant passes when trying to creatively find teammates, but that is only to be expected. Led the tourney in assists at 8.3 and put up 20 and 10 against a French team with strong guard play. Also scored about 10 of those points in the last few minutes of the game to keep Canada ahead for good. Has numerous high major offers and is looking at Gonzaga and UCLA among others. Will continue to play in Canada, but his future is definitely playing high major college ball.
Kyle Wiltjer: Rail thin 6’9 kid from Portland who has Canadian citizenship and has starred for Team Canada over the past few summers. Struggled mightily shooting in this tournament, and while he is very talented, is also very slight. He averaged 22 and 11, but shot very poorly and seemed to settle for shots on the perimeter far too often. Has a great deal of talent, so it warrants him being one of the higher rated players in the class seeing that he is a legit 6’9. But one of the valid criticisms of Wiltjer is, who is he going to guard at the next level? Still one to keep an eye on and has offers from all over. The Pac-10 is thought to have an edge, though Gonzaga could land his services as well.
Sim Bhullar: I got a chance to see the "Indian Sabonis" and I will say, he is a massive presence. In Canada’s loss, he posted 10 points on perfect shooting, but in the 3rd place game he struggled. Conditioning is obviously an issue with him, which only makes sense for someone so big at such a young age who’s fairly new to the game. His shooting mechanics are, to put it nicely, unorthodox, and it seemed like he was just throwing the ball at the basket, definitely needs to perfect a softer shot. Feet seemed planted to the ground when going after rebounds, and is not going to get anything outside of a certain small area. Has a long way to go, but he is young and 7’4! You can’t teach height, he will have a lot of chance to develop, but has a LONG way to go.
Andrew Wiggins: Wiggins, who is considered top of the 2014 class (early, of course, but he has been on the national radar since he was a dunking 13 year old). Great run and jump athlete, and just 15 years old, but still contributing in a tournament with people 2-3 years older. The 6’7 freshman made some athletic plays and his shooting mechanics were better than advertised, though something he definitely needs to work on. it turns out he’ll be playing high school at Vaughan Secondary, when I thought he was going to Word of God in NC, so apparently he has decided to stay closer to home. He’s got a world of upside if he continues to stay focused and improve.
The Final Game was without Anthony Davis, who for the tournament shot 14-17 until he hurt himself in the second game. Davis has made a huge jump to an elite level prospect after growing 6-7 inches in a year. He retains a lot of guard skills at 6-feet-9 and finds himself in the middle of a heated recruiting battle. Seeing that Midwest lacked size, he would have made a real difference in that final game. But, the final had very little defense and a ton of scoring, run and gun to the max. Final score was 123-115 South, and their were a few players that definitely stood out, mostly guards and wings. The loss of Davis was particularly tough for the USA-Midwest because he was a leader both offensively and defensively. One of the few aspects of his game that may need some work is his lower release on outside shots. He will also need to add some bulk to be a true power-forward at the NBA level.
Jahii Carson: Another standout who made a big impression with his flare and competitiveness. Carson can play above the rim, has a great release point on his shots, and gets his shot off quickly. The diminutive PG had 28 points and had quick drives at the end of the game to try and get Midwest back into the game. He is super quick and very athletic, has good court vision and looks to get others involved. Carson looked quicker on the floor than any other player and when he penetrated he looked to pass rather than try to finish difficult shots. He also played a solid defensive game, getting steals by putting his hands in the passing lane and picking guard’s pockets. Despite being undersized at 5’10, an interesting prospect and someone who can attack the basket.
Bradley Beal: USA U-17 (Hamburg) Tournament leading scorer came in second in this event at 27.3 ppg. Scored 40 in the Final, including 18 in the 3rd quarter. Has a nice jump shot as well making some strong drives to the basket and was a clutch outside shooter. Eric Gordon would be my comparison for Beal, as his strength and athleticism were similar going into his final year of HS. Beal stepped up after the two centers went down. Expect him to be a big scorer at Florida, though he is a smaller 2-guard, so his NBA potential at this point is maybe not elite.
Midwest also had Amir Williams, a 6’10 center prospect from Michigan, who seems to be more advanced defensively as opposed to offensively.
Michael Carter-Williams did not put up amazing numbers after a great tournament in late July, but he still is a very good prospect going to Syracuse.
Adonis Thomas: Scored 16 points in the monster scoring 3rd quarter and seems to be that solid prospect who maybe has not come to the forefront of the 2011 class, but still should be considered one of the better prospects. Can score in the variety of ways, but seemed to use his strength and athleticism to take advantage of the Midwest’s lack of size. Played 36 mpg over the tournament and averaged 24.3 points per game. Strong all-around player who should contribute to a program right off the bat.
Kentavious Caldwell: Nice shooting guard prospect, not a super elite athlete but has a strong shooting stroke, though struggled with consistency over the tournament. Averaged 19 per game and was a little 3 point happy, a common trend for many shooters in this tournament. Georgia is getting a volume shooter and someone who will put points on the board.
PJ Hairston: Was the Tournament MVP far and away, scored in almost every way imaginable. Out dueled Beal, scoring 41 to his 40, but was basically unstoppable. At 6’6 and 230, a very strong SF prospect who hopefully will develop into a 2 on the next level. Averaged 32 per game and seems to be a theme that no one can really stop him. NC has two recruits who have just torn it up at their age level, and Tar Heels fans have to be thrilled. I have a feeling Barnes is one and done, but with Bullock and Marshall probably staying in addition to some quality upperclassmen, Hairston should fit in beautifully on a talent filled team. He can definitely shoot (averaged 4.7 made 3’s over the tourney at an almost 50% clip) and he is a powerful player. Strong ball handler and has the ability to create his own shot. Based on his play in Portland, probably a little underrated based on where he’s ranked in his class at this point.
Zach Price, who is heading to Louisville, is a nice Center prospect listed at around 6’10, but he is still a work in progress as well.
Perry Ellis was one of the best out of the 2012’s at this tournament and is a great prospect as well. I heard he had some minor injuries going into the tournament, but he is 6’8 and very powerfully built. Was ranked near the top of the 2012 class before sliding some recently, He’s kind of a tweener hybrid forward, who should look to develop his SF skills and mobility.
*Anthony Alioth contributed to this report.