Dario Saric, 6-10, Small Forward, 1994
KK Zagreb, Croatia
Sam Forencich/USA Basketball
Still not draft-eligible despite competing in his second consecutive Nike Hoop Summit, Dario Saric had a strong showing in Portland, impressing scouts with the versatility he possesses for a player his size. After participating in the event last season, it was clear that the Croatian prospect had gained a comfort level with the format and level of competition level of the Hoop Summit, playing much better than he did in 2011.
Standing 6'10 with a matching wingspan, Saric spent the majority of the week at power forward, but clearly has his future on the wing, often bringing the ball up the floor for the World Select Team. Having added 10 pounds to his still wiry frame, Saric looks more physically mature than he did the last time we saw him, even if he still has plenty of room to grow. His lack of bulk limits him at times around the basket, and while he isn't terribly explosive, he shows impressive fluidity for a player his size and a unique skill level.
As was the case the last time we watched him, Saric's most impressive skills are his ball handling ability and court vision. Though the former FIBA Europe U-16 MVP's first step doesn't allow him to blow by defenders at will, his rangy strides give him to ability to attack gaps and turn the corner off the bounce. Showing terrific savvy changing speeds and great timing attacking his defender when unbalanced, Saric did a fine job all week getting into the lane and either finishing with deft touch and excellent body-control, or finding the open man with a quick pass. Tallying 5 assists and 4 turnovers in the Hoop Summit game, Saric still has room to improve his decision-making, as he forces the issue driving into traffic at times, but his ability to create offense for his teammates off the dribble is certainly impressive for a 6'10 18-year old.
Away from the basket, Saric showed decent touch from the perimeter, but remains unreliable for stretches. Shooting the ball extremely well on the first day of practice, but not as well the next, Saric has a somewhat unorthodox release that sometimes leads to the ball coming off his hand with less than ideal rotation. When Saric was knocking down shots from the midrange and perimeter, he made plays on a regular basis in practice regardless of who was defending him, but he's still working on becoming consistent with this part of his game, which is a huge key for his development.
As a rebounder, Saric did a nice job all week, using his size and excellent hands to corral the ball off the iron at a good rate. Recording 14 rebounds against the USA Junior Select Team, Saric was able to show why he's averaged a double-double on multiple occasions at the junior level. Though his strength and explosiveness hamper him at times, his uncanny ability to read the ball off the rim allows him to overcome his limitations with consistent effort and excellent anticipation.
Defensively, Saric lacks great lateral quickness to deny dribble penetration, but is able to compensate to some degree by playing off his man and using his length to stay attached to contest jump shots. He was beaten a few times off the dribble over the course of the week, and it will be interesting to see how his defense improves as his body continues to develop.
After a quiet debut in the Hoop Summit last season, Saric looked better in practice and was one of the catalysts for the World Select Team's 84-75 victory this year. Making his Euroleague debut earlier this season, Saric is an international prospect worth tracking closely as he is a potential early entrant for the NBA draft in the coming seasons.
After a relatively quiet week of practices and scrimmages, Wang Zhelin came out of nowhere to string together one of the best performances of anyone in the actual game, scoring 19 points, pulling down 8 rebounds and blocking two shots in just 22 minutes of action.
Listed as being born in 1994, but rumored to actually be around three years older than that, Zhelin measured 7-feet tall in Portland and a sturdy 251 pounds, with a 6-11 wingspan.
Zhelin has a very well developed lower body, with thick calves that allow him to hold his ground inside the paint on both ends of the floor. While he's not an incredible athlete, he's a fairly mobile big man, fluid and coordinated, and capable of playing above the rim. He's also not afraid of contact, doing a good job of asserting himself around the basket.
Offensively, Zhelin has a pretty nice skill-level for a player his size. He has range on his jumper out to about 18 feet, and some basic ball-handling ability as well. He can take advantage of his superior size and strength inside the paint to bully his way through weaker opponents, showing good touch and the ability to finish with either hand.
On the other hand, Zhelin's lack of experience showed throughout the week, as it's clear that he has yet to play against any real competition for much of his career. His feel for the game and particularly his passing ability are just average, as he forced the issue repeatedly in practices to the point that he became quite predictable in his moves. If unable to simply bulldoze his way through his matchup, Zhelin doesn't show much in the ways of footwork or countermoves, something he'll need to work on down the road.
Where Zhelin may struggle the most initially making the transition to the professional level is on the defensive end, where his fundamentals are extremely poor at the moment. He doesn't show great awareness and has a difficult time moving his feet laterally both in man to man and team settings, making him very foul prone.
Still yet to see any playing time at the senior level, Zhelin is obviously still in a fairly preliminary stage of his development, despite his outstanding showing at the Hoop Summit game. He's obviously come a long ways since the first time we saw him two years ago in Hamburg at the U-17 World Championship, and then again last year at the Nike International Junior Tournament in Barcelona. Zhelin has plenty of tools to work with as well as an intriguing skill-set and should get plenty of opportunity to continue to hone his all-around game, as he's already been invited to the Chinese national team squad which is currently preparing for the London Olympics this summer.
Marcos Delia, 6'10, Power Forward/Center, 1993
Boca Juniors, Argentina
Scoring 4 points and pulling down 7 rebounds for the World Select Team, Argentinian forward Marcos Delia showed both the good and the bad of his game throughout the week in Portland.
Standing 6'10 with a frame he's added some 15-20 pounds to since we saw him last summer at the FIBA U-19 World Championship, Delia has impressive size for a big man. He does not, however, possess great athleticism. He runs the floor fluidly for a player his size, but is not explosive enough to finish above the rim consistently.
What Delia does have is a few unique tools that could serve him well as he begins to develop his somewhat raw overall skill-level on the offensive end. He's a smart player who moves well without the ball, shows good timing crashing the glass, and understands how to be in the right place at the right time to give his teammates a target around the rim. When he receives the ball, he shows the ability to finish with either hand. Despite that, Delia is a less than reliable offensive option at this point, struggling with the touch on his unrefined post-moves, the range on his jumper even when inside the foul line, and his toughness finishing through contact.
Defensively, Delia did not stand out, but did a good job understanding the limitations of his opponents, playing off opposing bigs to bait them into shooting a jumper he often still managed to contest thanks to long arms, and pursuing the ball off the rim. He's also a solid rebounder. He'll need to become more physical down low to better take advantage of his rapidly improving frame as he lacks lateral quickness away from the rim.
Delia's frame, basketball IQ, ability to run the floor and finish on both sides of the rim are a plus, but he'll need to improve the rest of his offensive arsenal an learn to play with strength in order to take the next step as a prospect. Despite his limitations, Delia is one of the top prospects playing in South America at the moment, and at the very least ha a great future ahead of himself in Europe.
Anthony Bennett, 6-8, Power Forward, HS Senior,
Findlay Prep (NV), Canada
Uncommitted (Florida, Kentucky, Oregon, UNLV, Washington)
Sam Forencich/USA Basketball
One of the most highly touted players in the 2012 high school class, Anthony Bennett had a strong showing at the McDonald's All-American Game in Chicago which he followed up with a very timely late basket at the Nike Hoop Summit. After they battled back from a huge deficit, Bennett sunk the USA Junior Select Team, hitting an off-balance rainbow 28-footer to put the World Select Team up 81-75 with just 25 seconds to play.
Standing 6'7 with a 7'1 wingspan, Bennett may not have ideal size for a power forward, but his length, mature frame, and leaping ability certainly help him compensate. Over the course of the week in Portland, we weren't able to see Bennett at his best, as he was struggling with allergies and was seemingly exhausted from the multiple cross-country treks he'd made to compete at the McDonald's game in Chicago and with Findlay Prep who won the National High School Invitational in Maryland. Seldom playing above the rim even in drills, he simply didn't look like the same player. Fortunately we saw plenty of Bennett during our time in Chicago.
At this point in his career, Bennett has a handful of highly intriguing offensive skills. Perhaps his most unique trait is his very smooth and reliable perimeter shooting mechanics. Able to make shots from beyond the arc both off the dribble and off the catch, Bennett has surprising consistency for a player with his size and athletic tools.
Closer to the basket, Bennett doesn't show much in the way of a traditional back to the basket game at this point, but he has the ability to attack slower defenders off the dribble when facing the basket. Still an improving ball-handler, Bennett may not make many advance moves, but he has the tools to be a handful in one-on-one situations thanks to the threat of his jump shot and the physical straight-line dribble drives he aggressively takes to the rim.
Once at the rim, Bennett looks to finish emphatically, sometimes even looking to dunk the ball in traffic. He shows nice touch when he isn't exploding to flush the ball, proving fairly efficient when he makes his way inside thanks to his long arms and strong frame.
On the defensive end, Bennett's strength and leaping ability are assets, especially when he looks to clean the glass. He still has plenty of room to improve his fundamentals both at and away from the basket, but the tools are there for him to be success at the college level, even if he's a bit undersized.
One of the top uncommitted prospects still on the board, Bennett doesn't seem intent on announcing his college intentions in the immediate future. Whatever program does land the talented Canadian forward is getting one of the more intriguing talents in this class. Though he is a bit undersized for a power forward, and not terribly consistent yet from game to game, Bennett's combination of shooting ability, length, frame and athleticism make him a terrific prospect.
Patson Siame, 6'11, Center, 1993
Impact Basketball Academy (NV), Zambia
Committed to Loyola Marymount
Competing for Impact Basketball Academy‘s post-graduate program this past season, Zambia native Patson Siame was limited by an apparent ankle injury all week, ultimately only playing a few minutes on game day. Siame is still new to the game and while he is certainly a project at this point, he has some interesting tools that could bode well for his long-term future.
Siame's potential is rooted primarily in his impressive physical tools. Standing 6'11 with a 7'2 wingspan and a frame that has plenty of room for growth, Siame has excellent size for a post player. He'll need to add some muscle to hold position on the block in the WCC, a point of interest as he heads off to Loyola Marymount next season. A somewhat mechanical athlete to begin with, Siame's injury undoubtedly impeded his ability to use his size to his advantage in Portland, though he did show impressive mobility and leaping ability on a few notable occasions.
On the offensive end, Siame was a mixed bag, appearing to be in the early stages of his development in some areas. Struggling to catch the ball and finish dunks at times, Siame has poor hands at this stage, making it difficult for him to take advantage of his efforts. His best moments came when he was crashing the offensive glass, as he clearly has a very good motor.
Defensively, Siame had a few emphatic blocks over the course of the week, showcasing what his athleticism can add on that end of the floor. He'll need to continue improving his fundamentals to reach his potential as a defender, as he has very little concept of positioning and shows poor awareness, but he has the tools to make an impact down the road as he continues to gain experience.
At this point, it is too early to pass judgment on Siame. Considering that he was not entirely healthy and competing against a number of players with extensive experience competing at the professional level in Europe, this was far from an ideal setting for a player of Siame's background. Considering his physical attributes and youth, he could a prospect worth keeping an eye on in the coming years Depending to see how he continues to improve.