Nike Hoop Summit Team USA Player Recap (Part Three: The Big Men)

Nike Hoop Summit Team USA Player Recap (Part Three: The Big Men)
Apr 25, 2007, 01:58 am
Michael Beasley, 6’9, SF/PF, committed to Kansas State
8 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 3-15 FG’s, 2-6 FT’s, 0-2 3-PT

It wasn’t Beasley’s day, to put it mildly. And having found out about Bob Huggins’ decision to jump ship after a practice earlier in the week, he actually has an excuse. This time. There were flashes of the immensely talented forward’s potential, but little that translated into tangible help for Team USA or individual production. It isn’t as if mailed it in (like he has been known to do at times), as he still was a physical force in the paint and very difficult for the International team to deal with. But his individual-oriented offensive style and rushed perimeter shots certainly stood out on an all-star team that for the most part played like a real one.

The first thing you notice about Beasley is the sculpted, remarkably mature, 6’9 frame. High schoolers just aren’t supposed to be this strong. He has the natural strength to push plenty of NBA big men around, and he’s not at all pudgy like many thicker big guys at this stage. Beasley carries the bulk remarkably well, capable of gliding up and down the court and changing directions well enough to eventually play quite a bit of wing. He is an explosive leaper and really knows how use his strength – he bounces off opposing defenders in the paint to create separation for his arsenal mid-post scoring moves.

Unfortunately, this is where Beasley slipped up in the Hoop Summit game. Early on, he missed a couple of easy buckets, perhaps bothered by the length of the international team. Instead of continuing to pound the ball inside, Beasley began to rush contested midrange jumpers, failing to put his considerable strength and athleticism advantage to good use. These types of shots will eventually become his bread and butter in the NBA, but this wasn’t the setting that he needed to be firing away without discretion. But fire away he did, shooting just 3-15 from the field and 2-6 from the line on the afternoon.

There were still positives to be found here. Beasley battled hard on the boards in the 23 minutes he played, clearly a man amongst boys in this department. He finished with 9, and pretty much had his way physically – this isn’t going to be changing at the college level, and probably not at the NBA level either. There was an emphatic block and a couple of nice open court passes as well.

All in all, Beasley is still a high risk/high reward type of prospect. On one hand, his mental consistency and approach to the game have been may always be. Games like the Hoop Summit are going to happen, and Beasley will have to learn how to play through them. On the other, Beasley has obviously put in a lot of work on his game. His body is chiseled and his skill set polished. He is much more than just a raw athlete, able to beat just about any defender imaginable in some way or another, and having a good feel for how to find that edge in the middle of a play.

2007-2008 Outlook: It should be interesting to see how Beasley matures mentally over the next year. He has the talent to make a Kevin Durant-level (well, not quite Kevin Durant level) impact, but scouts will be looking for more than just a gaudy scoring average. With Beasley and Walker sharing the court, it should be quite the circus in Manhattan. Beasley has to display that he is committed to working hard every night to cement his status in the top half of the lottery, and this is a prospect that could go in either direction. But the Big XII appears to be fairly wide open yet again and Dalonte Hill is helping run the show, so a content Beasley could very easily lead the Wildcats to an NCAA Tournament berth.

Kevin Love, 6’9, PF/C, committed to UCLA
13 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 turnovers, 2 blocks, 1 steal, 5-9 FG, 2-2 FT, 1-1 3-PT

If you have yet to take in Kevin Love, checking out a replay of the Hoop Summit should give you a pretty good feel for what he will bring to the table for Ben Howland and UCLA this fall. He displayed just about everything that has earned him the top spot in many analysts’ Top 100 lists, from the advanced skill level and the immense strength, to the near-superhuman feel for the game. In short, the Bruins are getting an All-American, the type of all-around presence that is more than capable of shouldering the load on a national championship run – even as a freshman.

Love started the game a bit quietly, missing a bunny around the rim and struggling to get touches in a very guard-oriented offense (for the US team at least). He made his first impression with a swished 3-pointer from the wing, showing that defenders will have to respect his offense out on the perimeter. That just isn’t fair at the college level, given how advanced Love’s post game is. It seems like the Oregon native practically kills an opposing big man with a pump fake and lightning quick explosion to the basket, and in this game the unlucky victim was FSU-bound Solomon Alabi. The recovery was downright vicious, with Love tossing Alabi the like a rag doll with his back, and Alabi nearly landing on his head. He would also show deft post scoring touch in the lane on several occasions in the second half.

No game would be complete without a handful of patented outlet passes, and Love delivered in that regard. He turned International made baskets into breakaway dunks on two separate occasions, once hitting OJ Mayo and connecting with Jerryd Bayless on another. So while Love isn’t the most athletic player out there, between the pump fakes and the full-court passes, expect to see as many Kevin Love highlights as any player in the country next year.

Kevin Love doesn’t have the NBA upside of a Rose, Mayo or Beasley, but people projecting him as an elite prospect at the college level only might be missing the mark a little. He may never be a superstar, but he might be ready to contribute for a team right now – in the NBA playoffs. He appears to have slimmed down slightly and added a bit more hop to his step, and is too complete a player not to have a long career in the NBA.

2007-2008 Outlook: As big an impact as Derrick Rose is going to have at Memphis, 07-08 could be the year of Love. He steps into the perfect situation, surrounded by veterans that know how to win. While UCLA does lose the services of Arron Afflalo, every other important rotation player is projected to return and Love should be the go-to guy from day one. This is another freshman who has the chance to cut down the nets a year from now.

Patrick Patterson, 6’8, PF, uncommitted
12 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 1 block, 1 steal, 6-9 FG

Patterson was on the receiving end of several nasty dunks by the international team, but it was still a solid effort for the country’s top uncommitted freshman to be. Patterson came up with one emphatic block, displaying elite level explosiveness and the potential to slim down and end up even more athletic. He was a monster on the glass, and consistently displayed the ability to knock down the midrange jumper in the lane over the course of the week in practice. The one he hit in the game came off of an offensive rebound. Patterson runs the floor well, and should be able to fit in well in whatever kind of system he ends up playing in next year.

As a pro prospect, Patterson is obviously somewhat limited because of his size. The West Virginia product is most certainly locked in as a power forward, but has the wingspan and athletic power to make up for the lack of height to a certain extent. He isn’t an accomplished back to the basket scorer at the moment, more content to make an impact beating people up around the basket and at the rim. He doesn’t have the rock solid look of Beasley, but his combination of bulk and explosiveness are second to none in this class. He should be a phenomenal D1-level rebounder from day one, and is more than capable of playing in the NBA someday.

2007-2008 Outlook: It is hard to speculate much on Patterson’s impact before he picks a school, but he certainly has come up with a worthy list. He could be the recruit that Billy Gillispie uses to take Kentucky back to the pinnacle of college basketball, or he could help Billy Donovan keep Florida at the top. Even Duke is an ideal situation, with the frontcourt rotation lacking a powerful presence such as Patterson.

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