Nike Hoop Summit Practices-- World Team (Day 2)

Nike Hoop Summit Practices-- World Team (Day 2)
Apr 05, 2007, 05:55 pm
Georgian center Giorgi Shermadini has been injured throughout the week and from what we hear, he will miss the game.

Nemanja Aleksandrov has been injured throughout the week, but will return to practice on Thursday. He did participate in a drill today, but all he did was stand at the top of the key and pass the ball. Afterward, he iced his knee.

15 year old Ryan Richards out of the United Kingdom has been practicing with the team all week. According to a rumor floating around Wednesday, he has performed so well in practice that the coaching staff has asked him to play in the game on Saturday. Richards currently attends the same academy in Spain that produced Joel Freeland, and he will be the youngest player to ever step on the court at the Hoop Summit if he is indeed added to the team.

At 6’10” and 225 pounds, the young big man has a good body and nice touch inside. He has held his ground this week against the older and much more experienced members of the international team. Richards was born in April 24, 1991, and is currently in his first season of playing for his Spanish academy.

Petteri Koponen was one of the more intriguing prospects of the day. He possesses great size for a point guard at around 6’5” and has the quickness to penetrate past the other international players. What really stands out is how physical he plays the point guard position. In the paint, he really excels when setting screens, and isn’t afraid from contact from any player on the floor. As the day progressed, it was easy to appreciate how well he can run a team. Koponen controls the game well, can find the open man off the dribble, and is very crafty with the ball in his hands. Also, his shooting stroke has great consistency - he can make it both while set and off the dribble. The interesting thing for Koponen will be to see how he stacks up athletically against the American players. He may not have the quickness for the NBA level, but if he does he could be a really interesting prospect to watch.

Nicolas Batum had another great day as well, though he doesn’t always stand out in the through drills. But he did excel on the defensive end, using his 7’1” wingspan and great body to apply pressure throughout the drills . His knowledge of how to play defense doesn’t end here, however. Batum has great recovery speed, and displayed his knowledge of how to rotate properly while working in the halfcourt. When applying pressure in a zone full court press he also was able to create some steals.

Offensively, Batum had a few explosive dunks at the basket that really turned some heads. When he slashes to the hoop he uses spin and hesitation moves to allow him the separation to finish strongly at the basket every time. Batum’s problem as a slahser at this point is a weak left hand. In some of the half court drills he was able to penetrate past his defender, but finished the ball with his right hand at the basket each time. The weaker left hand also creates problems off the dribble from time to time, where Batum is prone to either losing the ball or having it taken from him. Despite this, Batum has a really good all-around game. Some guys who are built like the young Frenchman shy away from physical contact, but he finishes with great power near the rim, no matter who is near him. In the half court drills, he also displayed the ability to overpower smaller guards in the post. After practice, Batum started shooting NBA three pointers, which he knocked down with some consistency. He hasn’t shot the ball from the perimeter very often in the practices, but this appears to be a skill that he possesses.

Alexis Ajinca had another good day, though he practiced better yesterday. The big problem for him will also be his lack of stength, unless he can put some weight on his 207 pound frame. In the 4 on 4 half court drills, he sometimes went up against Solomon Alabi in the post. Ajinca struggled to create in the post against him, and had trouble with controlling the ball in the post. Though they are using him as a primary post player here, he plays much more comfortably while facing the basket at this point. This is evident when he handles the ball with his back to the basket, as it seems forced and mechanical. Ajinca will also need to learn to finish better inside. If he has the space to dunk the ball he has no problem, but he makes a lot of nice moves inside at this point that he doesn’t convert. After practice Ajinca was shooting around, and knocked down 5 consecutive three pointers from behind the international line. A problem in the practices has been the fact that he isn’t a very good passer out of the post, likely due to the fact that he’s not used to spending a lot of time down low.

Solomon Alabi didn’t use his hook shot as effectively today, but he was able to knock down some jump shots out to 15 feet. His shooting form appears to be awkward, and his shot is flat, but his shot was effective enough for him to knock down nearly every time he was open. Alabi weighed in at 237 pounds, and one of the scouts in attendance compared his to Antonio McDyess in terms of build and body. In the post, he will need to learn to read the defense and pass it out when he is double teamed. Still, Alabi has good hands and a very explosive vertical leap. He should contribute at Florida State right away, and it isn’t totally out of the realm of possibility for him to go one and done.

Nihad Djedovic played for the first time in the afternoon, after sitting out the morning session with an injury. The strong point to his game at this point appears to be the ability to knock down the set jump shot. Unfortunately, he tends to be quite shot-happy, and forces up some bad jumpers out of the offensive flow. Off the dribble, he struggles with his shooting touch as well. Djedovic has good measurements for a shooting guard at 6’6.” He has a pretty developed body for his age, but he doesn’t seem to really possess any type of slashing game at this point.

Omri Casspi played well again, though his jumper seems to come and go. He displayed very good athleticism a number of times, and touched the top of the square on the backboard with ease after practice. Casspi’s ability to read the defense is coming along nicely. He recognizes the mismatches quickly during the drills, and tries to be vocal to his teammates about exploiting the mismatch. For the second day in row, Casspi was the last player working on his game after practice, spending more time with the coaches on his shooting mechanics. In some transition drills, Casspi was able to take the ball end to end and make a crafty left handed finish near the basket, and he also made some really nice passes on the break. Shooting will be a big question mark from the scouts here, but he has all the other tools to be an NBA player.

Slovenian small forward Emir Preldzic has good size, though he has a skinny frame and lacks athleticism. Throughout the practices, his biggest strength was his ability to hit a jump shot. He can make shots off the dribble, and he has great range on his shot extending out beyond the international three point line. The weak point for Preldzic comes off the dribble, where he lacks the quickness and first step to blow by the opposing defender. He also struggles to use his left hand both on the dribble and finishing near the basket.

Aleksandar Ugrinoski displayed very good quickness in the practice and did a good job penetrating to the basket from the point guard position. Physically, he has both great size and length to play the lead guard position. In the paint he isn’t really explosive in finishing at the hoop, but he does seem to be very crafty in this area. Ugrinoski seems to be a streaky shooter, and tends to force up some rushed shots off the dribble. He has also struggled defensively throughout the practices while trying to guard Petteri Koponen.

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