Portland, Oregon, will tomorrow see the tipoff of the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, a showcase event featuring 20 of the world’s greatest youth basketball players going head-to-head in the 11th annual match between USA and “World” teams.
As the official site and concomitant PR material likes to point out, the Nike Hoop Summit is virtually a launching pad to the NBA and/or higher international levels of competition: Some 68 current NBA players (including 15 non-U.S. players) made an appearance at the ‘Summit, the granddaddy of the bunch being 1995 game alum Kevin Garnett and perhaps the most relevant former Summiteer these days is Kevin Durant, who played in ‘06. Full on one-third of *all* participants who’ve played in the tournament were drafted by NBA teams.
Top-drawer European players who have put in an appearance in the Portland tournament include Dirk Nowitzki, Luis Scola, Daniel Gadzuric (1998); Vladimir Radmanovic (1999); Bostjan Nachbar (1999, 2000); Tony Parker (2000); Andrea Bargnani, Sergio Rodriguez, Roko Ukic (2004); and Petteri Koponen (2007).
The Continent is well-represented on the World Team for this year’s Summit, with five of the ten roster spots filled by Europeans (somehow Canada also managed to sneak *two* players in there … go figure), and in fact appears to be perhaps the strongest World squads formed since this tourney began. The quintet of Europeans – and remember these names; you’ll soon be hearing most of them for years to come – includes the following.
• First and foremost, of course, is Enes Kanter. After bursting onto the scene by dominating the 2008 FIBA U18 European Championship Men – he was named tournament MVP and closed out the show by registering a ridiculous 32-point, 25-rebound line in the consolation match versus Team Serbia – Kanter has continued to make headlines, sometimes in controversial fashion but always noteworthy.
Starting the 2009-10 academic year at Findlay College Prep, Kanter ran into a buzzsaw of questions regarding amateur eligibility and pay he may or may not have received for playing ball in his native Turkey. He closed the season at Stone Ridge Prep in Simi Valley after detouring through a second school along the way – no matter, as Kanter registered sick lines anywhere he played this season.
Kanter also generated something of a buzz when he first announced he’d be playing college ball for the University of Washington Huskies and later switched his commitment to University of Kentucky. Said decision suddenly throws Kanter even more squarely into the limelight at the Summit, thanks to the mass exodus from the Wildcats led by John Wall.
Best of all for Kanter, he’ll actually have a secret advantage in the game. Through various all-star invites and his extensive basketball-related travels, Kanter has actually teamed with five of his teammates in game situations before, including the Canadian duo of Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, who were at Findlay this year.
Mark BallinEurope’s words here: Kanter will end up being *the* talk of this summit.
• It wouldn’t be a World team without at least one Serbian, right? That bills is filled on this team by big man Dejan Musli, the other FIBA U18 All-Star Team member to be playing at the Hoop Summit.
Listed at 2.12 meters tall (that’s just about 6’11.5″) and with the size to support it, Musli is one scary hombre who terrorized the competition most significantly at last year’s Nike International Junior Tournament. Even Team Lithuania and fine finesse player Jonas Valanciunas were no match for the big Serbian in that tourney, which saw Musli go on a 22.6-point (on 64% shooting), 12.5-rebound, and a serious 2.8-block per game rampage.
Musli simply overpowers the opposition with size and force, and could give the generally smaller Team USA squad fits on Saturday.
Unfortunately, however, it seems Musli’s having a little trouble in World Team practices while playing against — you guessed it — Enes Kanter. Reports Draft Express from on the scene:
FMP Zeleznik center Dejan Musli didn’t have an easy go of things on Wednesday. Matched up with Enes Kanter, Musli, the tallest and longest player in attendance this week, had no problem getting his hook shot off with his ridiculous length, but just couldn’t get anything to fall. He appears to have lost some weight from the last time we saw him, but still doesn’t have the polish that we saw from the likes of [Nikola] Mirotic.
Nevertheless, since Team USA is bringing no talent similar to Kanter, perhaps Musli will still get a chance to ably show his skill set against the Americans’ inside game.
• Speaking of Nikola Mirotic, could this young man be the next ACB sensation? With his rights held by Real Madrid, the stacked bigger club was able to loan Mirotic to lower-division Faymasa Palencia in order to develop a bit. The result: Mirotic now has more experience against professional-level competition that any other player at the Summit.
So how’d he do? Not too shabbily, sayeth the BiE: How about a line of 8.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in 30 games at 20.1 minutes per? All in all, not bad for a guy who was 18 when the season began.
Of note is a bit of politics surrounding Mirotic’s two would-be teams and the Montenegrin’s participation in Portland. It seems Real Madrid is waffling a bit on whether they’ll be recalling Mirotic for 2010-11; also, the ACB club reportedly jerked around Palencia officials regarding whether Mirotic would be playing in the Nike Summit at all, changing the decision more than once. Palencia, meanwhile, is seeking to gear up for the season’s end.
• Duje Dukan is Croatia’s contribution to the World Club – though to be fair, Dukan has lived in the ‘States since the tender age of 10 months – and is fit to expand his reputation beyond Illinois. Dukan finished up his high school ball career with Deerfield High School in 2009-10 by earning a second-team All-State bid with a seriously impressive statline of 23.0 points and 9.5 boards per game, and was a finalist for the “Illinois Mr. Basketball” award.
Particularly paying attention to Dukan will be University of Wisconsin basketball fans, as the 6’8” two guard has already committed to the school. The Summit game should be considered a breakout for Duje, who may surprise even devoted youth basketball followers, as his game continues to improve by leaps and bounds.
Says Dukan’s Deerfield High coach Bret Just: “Fairly or unfairly, his freshman and sophomore year he was labeled as a spot-up, three-point shooter. Through his development physically as well as his work in the gym, he has become a versatile complete player. He can put it on the floor, shoot with range, post up, and he has just so many facets to his game. That’s all a credit to how hard he has worked.”
• Mael Lebrun of France will be playing at the three spot for the World club; Lebrun was one of the nice surprises for La Republique in the FIBA U18s last summer, gaining more confidence (and stats) as the tournament progressed. When Team France closed its run against Serbia, Lebrun went for 17 points on 6-of-8 overall shooting to go with six (!) steals. He even got in a sweet posterization in the final:
Lebrun has been under contract with Euroleague squad Entente Orleanaise since 2007 and only managed to make a cameo appearance – four minutes in a meaningless game 10 outing against Efes Pilsen in the regular season – with the big boys this season. Here’s to thinking we’ll be seeing a lot more of Lebrun in 2010-11, however.
Other members of the World Team include Robert Loe of New Zealand; Jason Cadee of Australia; Canada’s Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph; and Sui Ran of China. Full rosters for both squads can be found here and below run highlight clips from last year’s match. Enjoy!