The Nike Hoop Summit took place on Saturday, and after watching the game and re-watching the game, I have some thoughts and impressions on the game, who improved their NBA Draft stock (yep, already time to start thinking about the 2015 Draft) and how the top college teams for 2014-15 stack up.
- First off, this wasn’t your usual International team. There were a lot of US High School kids in this one, and while they definitely had some blue chippers and guys who are going to be great players, a lot of the best eligible European guys are still playing meaningful games for their pro clubs.
- On the flipside, USA Basketball made a concerted effort to get the “right” kinds of kids into this game this year. After some attitude problems surrounding most notably the Harrison twins last year, the United States played really unselfish basketball and tough defense.
- Jahlil Okafor (Duke commit) wasn’t supremely efficient (14 points on 11 shots) but he showed off a vast array of post moves. He lacks the top end athleticism of some of the other guys at the top of his class (most notably Cliff Alexander, to whom he is always compared due to them both being Chicago kids) but Okafor is going to excel from day 1 at Duke because his offensive game on the low block is nearly complete already.
- We might as well get the other two future Blue Devils out of the way. I don’t love Tyus Jones because he lacks size and athleticism, but he’s a very smart player who made some nice floaters and, as usual, made great decisions all game. Justise Winslow, meanwhile, was probably the most impressive athlete I saw all game, and having him on the wing should help fix a lot of the defensive issues Duke had last year. Even if Parker leaves for the NBA, I would feel very comfortable with Duke as a preseason #1.
- The United States wings as a whole made an impact on the game. Winslow, Theo Pinson (North Carolina) Stanley Johnson (Arizona) and Kelly Oubre (Kansas) played good defense all game and really frustrated the international wings.
- Because I’m a Kansas fan, I suppose I have to talk semi at length about their two commits in the game, Oubre and Cliff Alexander. Oubre is unfortunately tasked with being the guy who has to come in and replace Andrew Wiggins. He’s not Wiggins, but he looks pretty good to me. I don’t love his shooting form, and due to his knack for shooting somewhat of a line drive I think he’ll struggle with his shot all year, and he doesn’t have much of a right hand, but in terms of playing in college you can survive with just a left hand a lot easier than you can with just a right. Oubre has been criticized by some scouts for not being consistent on defense, but I saw him show off impressive foot speed as well as a huge wingspan which should help him tremendously next year. He also did a good job being active on the offensive glass, which is something I hope carries forward to his college career. Alexander, meanwhile, is a monster. I have to watch a lot more of him, Mudiay, Towns and Okafor to decide if this is just my bias talking, but right now I think Alexander is the best guy in the class. His effort level, rebounding ability, and overall physicality is impressive. He runs the floor extremely well for a big, he’s flashed a bit of a jumper, and he’s a really good passer from the post. Kansas fans are going to love him.
- Internationally, the two guys I liked most, no surprise, were Emmanuel Mudiay (SMU) and Karl Towns (Kentucky). Mudiay is a physical freak who can get to the rim pretty much at will in the pick and roll, and while I’ll have to see him shoot some more jumpers to get a handle on what I project for him in 2014, I think he has a chance to go #1 in the 2015 draft thanks to his scoring ability. Towns, meanwhile, wasn’t really able to get it going thanks to some foul trouble, but I like the potential for him to be a guy who can score inside but also take the ball out on the wing and score off the bounce as well. I think Calipari made a mistake last year of letting Julius Randle have the ball on the perimeter too much, but Towns should be able to get away with it a lot more. He doesn’t jump off the screen in terms of athleticism, but he’s so smooth with the ball and can generally get to where he wants on the floor.
- Remember the name Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. He’s a 16 year old from Ukraine, the youngest Hoop Summit player ever, and because he is the son of a professor and goes to a multilingual school in Ukraine (via DraftExpress) there’s a chance he could come over and play college basketball rather than turning pro in Europe. He’d be 17 his entire Freshman year, which would limit his effectiveness somewhat, but there’s no doubt he’d be a highly sought after recruit.