As was the case with both of the US Team's early practices, Jones and Alexander ran the team through extensive drills early on, emphasizing getting up and down the floor and pick and roll defense. Here's a peak at what kind of warm ups and drills the players went through early and often in their practices.
Ending the sessions by focusing in on some particular game-situations, the US coaches reserved competitive action for the evening sessions, where a team of local pros and former college players were assembled.
The US high schoolers competed against the likes of Nik Raivio (Portland), who played in Greece and Sweden in 2013, Clint Chapman (Texas), who had a good year in Switzerland, and David Jackson (Oregon), who signed a 10-day contract with the Cavaliers in 2004 and has experience playing in the EuroLeague as well as the NBADL, which offered a good challenge considering the significant experience and maturity advantage the veterans enjoyed. The action was close for much of the way.
In the first evening session, the USA Junior National Select Team played the opposition to a draw in front of the media alone, but bested the local practice squad 74-53 in the second game in front of no fewer than 120 NBA scouts and general managers.
Perhaps the player who surprised those in attendance the most with their play was Kasey Hill, who did a good job running the point, but also hit a number of 3-pointers and pull-up jump shots, which is a promising sign considering that perimeter consistency was considered one of his biggest weaknesses as a high school prospect. His speed, ability to create for others, and array of floaters in the lane always made him a nice fit for a Florida, but if his shooting performance here was the sign of things to come, his impact could be even more significant.
The most impressive player from an NBA Draft perspective was Jabari Parker, who got his shot falling early. Knocking down a number of shots off the dribble and a few off the catch, Parker is not the most explosive player off the bounce, but when he's converting the midrange shots he can create for himself, he's an absolute force considering he has an exceptional basketball IQ and can do so many different things well.
Aaron Gordon also had a nice series of practices. He made his presence felt on the glass on both ends of the floor, using his explosiveness to corral his teammate's misses and finish emphatically. Julius Randle had some moments as well. He left his feet a bit too often defensively, but his offensive skill level and burst with the ball were certainly as advertised. If he gets going offensively in the Hoop Summit, he could be an X-factor as he was in the Jordan Brand Classic.
On the whole, the USA Junior National Select Team played significantly more aggressive defense in front of the NBA scouts than they did in their scrimmages the night before, showcasing the athleticism this class possesses. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson did an especially good job pressuring the ball, and it wouldn't be at all surprise to see the Arizona commit play opposite Andrew Wiggins in tonight's game. His mix of size, length, intensity, and impressive physical tools make him one of the more versatile defenders in this class.
The World Select Team's practices remained consistent with those earlier in the week. Roy Rana got his players through drills quickly and efficiently and ended the day with plenty and competitive action.
As has been the case in each of the practices here, Mouhammadou Jaiteh used his size and strength to impose his will on the World Select Team's smaller post defenders. Jaiteh is not an explosive leaper, but at 6-11, 250 pounds, he is a space eater whose long arms and soft touch allow him to get his hook shots off effortlessly around the basket. Capable of making an occasional perimeter shot despite possessing unorthodox mechanics, Jaiteh won't turn 19 until November, making a player to keep an eye on moving forward.
Sergey Karasev also had a strong couple of practices. The most seasoned player here, it is a rarity to see him play out of control, as he always appears composed. His jump shot has been falling all week, and his effortless mechanics certainly catch your attention when you watch him knock down deep shot after deep shot in drills. Karasev will need to get stronger and improve on the defensive end to reach his potential long term, but he has an uncommon maturity to his game at age 19 and clearly looks like the high-level European standout he is.
Dennis Schroeder continued his terrific play, and based on his performances here, has opted to enter the 2013 NBA Draft. Livio Jean-Charles had a terrific final practice and has really caught the attention of NBA decision-makers here as well with his combination of midrange shooting, length, and athleticism.
In what should be a very entertaining matchup, it would not be at all surprising to see the outcome of the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit come down to whose star shines brightest. Jabari Parker's showing in practice and Andrew Wiggins's 20-point performance last season make their potential matchup that much more compelling. The World Select Team possesses a significant size advantage and more athleticism than previous seasons, but the US Team showed that they can really get after it defensively when they're dialed in. If both teams play well and a few key parties stay out of foul trouble, this has the potential to be an excellent exhibition of future NBA talent.
Physicals Height: 6' 1" Weight: 187 lbs. Birthday: 06/22/1973 42 Years Old Teams: High School: Oak Hill Academy Previous Team: Virginia , PRO Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #29 in 1995 Draft by the Spurs Positions: Current: G, NBA: G, Possible: G Quick Stats: 16.4 Pts, 3.6 Rebs, 8.3 Asts