By: Sam Meyerkopf and Rafal Juc
In our final 2013 Nike Hoop Summit evaluation we got the traveling international scout Rafal Juc from Eurohopes.com who was in Portland, to write in. Rafal and myself go through every player on the World Team and give you our favorite things about them.
Rafal: Lighting quick first step and an incredible blow of quickness, Schroeder seems born to play the American style of basketball. Freed from slow-paced, half-court-oriented and pick-and-roll-based game plans, he was at his best speeding the tempo up, running transition and getting into the lane. However, I’m pretty sure the one particular skill the NBA executives love the most about Schroeder is his “Bulldog” mentality on defensive end. Once his man crosses half-court with the ball, Schroeder jumps on him and “bites” relentlessly with his 6-7 wingspan.
Sam: Patience complimenting blazing speed is a rarity in basketball. Usually the guys who can run the fastest, don’t know how to control and change speeds. Schroeder is different though, even for a guy with a jet pack on his back, Schroeder lets the game come to him. He lets spaces open up and then attacks them, using his speed as a calculated weapon. He probes, pokes, and feels out every situation before he outright attacks it. Patience is a virtue.
Rafal: Undeniably the most humble kid in the World Team. Always with a smile on his face and open to media and fans. By the way, he did some nice damage ending up with 16 points off the bench and confirming that he is an elite NCAA prospect in the game. The second youngest player on the World Team, Exum with his lanky frame seems born to play the game of basketball. And man, he gets to the rim like no one else at the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit. He doesn’t show max vertical jump like Andrew Wiggins, who can make hammer home dunks from any spot in the paint, however he displays a rare ability to hang in the air while leaping to the rim like a young MJ.
Sam: Smoothness all the way around. Getting to the hoop, running the offense, moving his feet on defense. Even his freshly renovated jump shot has a smooth aftertaste. At times it seemed Exum was almost gliding to the hoop, floating in the air. Drink it in, Exum’s game is smooth every time he drives.
Rafal: Having already a successful campaign with senior Montenegrin national team, Ivanovic came to Portland considered as a top 1994 European prospect. He showed competitiveness and physical effort all week long. Not as talented as Schroeder, but hard-working, blue collar worker on both ends of the court. He brought toughness and defense.
Sam: Ivanovic is a guy who athletically was noticeably a step below a lot of guys here but that didn’t stop him from trying to play his game. He kept attacking open driving lanes and taking outside shots. He was determined to have an affect on this team and ended up running the offense well once he stopped looking for his scoring so once. He was a good offensive organizer and you could see the point guard mentality in him.
Rafal: Although Wiggins wasn’t as motivated to prove himself as you might expect and was visibly tired after living out of suitcase for all month long (McDonald’s, Jordan Brand Classic, Nike Hoop Summit), he shined. Wiggins presented himself as probably the best athlete outside the NBA standing at 6-8 with 7-0 wingspan. The game comes too easy for him. Clear-cut candidate for to be a franchise player. Would have been top two in the draft 2013 if eligible.
Sam: It’s the spin move and footwork in the paint that was so refined it was scary. Come at Wiggins from any angle and he can spin around you. Left, right, it doesn’t matter. Once he gets in the lane he’s getting a shot off, just hope he’s not putting you on a poster.
Rafal: “Are you kidding me?” Sergey Karasev hardly ever missed a shot in practice drills, impressing with his smooth sweet follow-through and release, shooting nothing but net. Questioned for his average level of athleticism, Karasev did a great job on both ends of the court to either contain his American counterparts and then beat them off the dribble in isolations.
Sam: You know about the jumper by but what really had me impressed with Karasev was his comfort level. It seemed in everything he did he was under control and comfortable. Guarding Andrew Wiggins, shooting off the catch or dribble, or having to be more of distributor, it seemed in any basketball situation Karasev was comfortable. With him more than anyone here, I think you could drop him onto a team anywhere in the world and he would find a role.
Rafal: Hustling, fighting, having fun - Dimsa was one of the most enjoyable players to follow. He didn’t complain, simply did his job and came back home, leaving really solid impressions.
Sam: Unselfishness. Dimsa was willing to give up the ball and probed often to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. One thing I really enjoyed, Dimsa was always willing to throw the lob. He plays free and easy basketball, which created some of the best alley-oops of the week. Cheers to you Tomas.
Rafal: Silent killer. I’ve barely realized he was on the court and Jean-Charles had already collected a massive double-double. If you can call skill an ability to find yourself in the right place at the right time, it’s probably a go-to move for lanky Frenchman. Despite lacking NBA level of strength, he does a great job moving on his feet to get the most comfortable position on offensive board, even before the shot is taken.
Sam: Jean-Charles just has this oddly innate ability to track down the ball. In practice it seemed it was hustle plays through loose balls or solid spacing ability to get open, and then in the game it was on the offensive glass. But this guy just has a sensor for the ball and always seems to be around it. And he also always seemed to have the ball open and near the hoop. Livio is sneaky, sneaky.
Rafal: Questioned for losing focus and poor level of intensity, Jaiteh was fighting relentlessly deep post position all week long. With his 6-11 and 249-pound frame he looks like a legit NBA center. Impresses with old-fashioned interior presence contesting shots, rebounding and closing plays with simple jump hook.
Sam: Jaiteh’s physicality was on display from the tip of the first practice. His big muscle heavy frame stood out compared to a lot of slender players. But Jaiteh banged and pushed for post position, defensive spots, and offensive rebounds all week. He’s an old school knock you around big man. He was a load for anyone to handle and few wanted to take the beating of a Jaiteh post-up. Once he got the ball it wasn’t always a smooth transition to scoring, but he made sure to always make his defender work.
Karl Towns Jr.
Rafal: The youngest player in either roster, seven-footer Karl Towns possesses legit NBA-type body, with the skill-set of a wing player. Hitting threes, step-back jumpers, fade-aways, putting the ball on the court and creating for others, he has it all in his repertoire as only a high school junior.
Sam: Touch, touch, touch. Karl Towns Jr. has a silky, smooth touch. He had some series in practice scrimmages where he’d go dunk, next time down three, next time down shimmy turnaround jumper. Very rare to see someone at that height that has such an ability to place the ball in the basket.
Rafal: Looking like a young Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum, Embiid has extremely raw fundamentals, however is a long-term project with only two years experience of playing the game. With his 240-pound frame and 7-5 wingspan he can develop under coach Billy Self into dominant center as Jeff Whitey did.
Sam: Embiid impressed all week with his explosion. In big man drills players would get passes near the basket and they would have to spin, drop step, or roll to the hoop for a finish. This is where Embiid shined because he treated the basket like it was a Nerf hoop. At times you started feeling bad for the rim. His finishes were vicious and he got up to the rim quicker than anyone else.
Rafal: The most quiet and way too unselfish player in the World Team, Gabriel Deck didn’t bring to mind the player who was pretty much unstoppable at last summer’s U19 World Championships. Nevertheless he’s a 6-7 baby Luis Scola and given space, does not hesitate to knock down shots.
Sam: You could see the spacing, rebounding, passing, and footwork with Deck, he was just so un-aggressive it was in the smallest of flashes. I really enjoyed his passing game. He’s willing to throw the over the shoulder pass to a cutter on the post-up or spin and swing it across the court for an open three. The ball definitely did not stick to Deck at all and a willing post passer with a nice mid-range jumper is a welcomed addition to most every team.