In the final day of practices before the Nike Hoop Summit, it became clear early on that a major migration from Portsmouth was taking place. Though the early international practice was closed to scouts and media, the afternoon practice was packed with more than 60 NBA decision-makers in attendance. More scouts were reportedly trying to make their way in from Portsmouth, but airline cancellation issues left some of them stranded in Virginia.
One of the hotter topics of discussion throughout the week has related to who might declare for the 2008 NBA draft from the current roster of international prospects. Three names frequently come up in this discussion, though none of the three would seem to be a lock to stay in the draft past the deadline to withdraw. Freakishly athletic Serge Ibaka
s name always gets a mention when this discussion takes place, and a solid performance in the game tomorrow could lead the Congo native to keep his name in the draft. Alexis Ajinca
and Boban Marjanovic
could also put their name in this year, but both will likely keep their options open throughout the process leading up to the draft.
The international team had a fairly light practice today, but some transition drills did give us a nice look into a couple of the prospects. The aforementioned Ibaka clearly stands out in transition at this point, and his ability to make things happen was on display throughout the day. He shows explosive vertical leaping ability on both ends of the floor, and made a number of athletic blocks and rebounds throughout the practice. The young big man also shows nice form on his jumper and can knock down shots to 20 feet without a problem. Combine this with developing ability in the low post, and you have a guy who could really put himself on the radar in the late-lottery to mid-first round. Ibaka remains a project at this point and will take a few years to develop before helping an NBA team on a nightly basis, but he has a rare set of tools for an athletic big man in his age group.
Another solid big man throughout the week has come in the form of Tim Ohlbrecht
. The German native shows nice form on his jumper out to the international three point line, and appears fairly athletic judging by the way he moves and runs. The young big man also flashes into the paint in a timely matter, creating a number of easy baskets by just making himself visible when a seem becomes available inside. It appears that Ohlbrecht may have low post ability, but he spends most of his time standing around on the perimeter waiting to shoot jumpers. It would be nice to see him take the ball inside more often to get a better feel for his back to the basket game. The German also has a lot of work to do when it comes to defense and rebounding, and his overall understanding of the game could use some polishing.
Two more players not previously mentioned in our coverage will move on to play college basketball in the United States next season. A Puerto Rico native from the Chicago area, Angel Garcia
has legit size for a small forward in the NBA and a sweet perimeter shooting stroke. The forward also appears to have some skills driving to the basket, though his role here seems to limit him to spotting up for long range jumpers. It would be nice to see him become more aggressive with the way he attacks the basket to keep the Ricky Sanchez
comparisons out of mind. The other prospect, Emmanuel Negedu
, will play his college ball at Arizona next season. Standing at about 66, Negedu appears to be transitioning from the power forward slot to the three. His shooting mechanics need work as does his ball handling, but he has an amazing body for a high school player and explosive vertical leaping ability. It may take him all years of eligibility before we can talk about him as a true three, but he has very impressive physical tools to work with.
The high school practices looked fairly similar to yesterday. A couple of drills at the beginning to loosen up, and then some half-court offense drills followed by a scrimmage against local junior college players. Demar DeRozen stood out as the best player today, showing great elevation off the dribble and a beautiful shooting stroke as well.
Power forward Greg Monroe
was another interesting prospect to look at, considering he has the tools to someday develop into a top 5 pick. The lefty shows advanced footwork for a high school player and the ability to play both facing the basket and on the low block. Today, Monroe showed his range on a couple of occasions, and his fakes were also effective in getting him easy shots while posting up. His touch inside remains questionable at times as does his effort on the court. The big man has a reputation for taking it easy at times, and will need to prove he can give 100% on a consistent basis entering his freshman year at Georgetown.
Fellow big man Drew Gordon
has looked quite interesting these past couple days, showing an impressive set of skills on the offensive end of the floor. The UCLA -bound senior shows impressive ball-handling and shooting ability, with range on his jumper out to 20 feet. He can score with his back to the basket as well, though better touch with his left hand will be needed in the long run. Gordon appears to lack the ideal height for a power forward in the NBA, and isnt an athletic freak by any means. His well rounded skills will garner him both attention and playing time next season for UCLA, and he could be a very interesting big man to talk about in a couple seasons.
The 2008 Nike Hoop Summit tips off tomorrow afternoon at 1 PM local time (4 PM Eastern), and we will be there with coverage from the Rose Garden. It will also be broadcasted live on Fox Sports Net.