2014 Nike Hoop Summit Video Interview: Karl Towns
2014 Nike Hoop Summit USA Practice Day Three
2014 Nike Hoop Summit USA Practice Day Two
2014 Nike Hoop Summit USA Practice Day One
[url=2014 Nike Hoop Summit International Practice Day Four
2014 Nike Hoop Summit International Practice Day Three
2014 Nike Hoop Summit International Practice Day Two
2014 Nike Hoop Summit International Practice Day One
2014 Nike Hoop Summit International Measurements
2014 Nike Hoop Summit USA Measurements
2014 Nike Hoop Summit International Roster Breakdown
The Nike Hoop Summit World Team has a history of being been built around playing an unselfish brand of basketball.
Although Roy Rana's 2013 squad was loaded with extremely high-level prospects (Dante Exum, Dennis Schroeder, Joel Embiid, and Andrew Wiggins), that team's unselfish style of play contributed significantly to their success in last year's game.
This year, it was Team USA that played as a unit, swinging the ball around the perimeter, feeding the post and passing the ball ahead in transition. As a result, they finished with 16 assists on 32 made baskets in a balanced scoring effort four players with 13 or more points.
The 2014 World Team lacked the team identity we're accustomed to seeing from them, and it showed in their 84-73 loss to Team USA in the Moda Center on Saturday night. They broke off of half court sets and relied almost exclusively on 1-on-1 play for stretches. Emmanuel Mudiay torched the Team USA defense at times (20 points on 8-of-18 shooting), especially in transition, but even he dribbled the air out of the ball at times and forced up bad shots in the half court.
The World Team committed 21 turnovers and only dished out 14 assists. They struggled with Team USA's pressure and athleticism, most notably on the wings with Justice Winslow, Stanley Johnson, Kelly Oubre and Theo Pinson.
Outside of Mudiay and point guard Jamal Murray, the World Team shot 15-for-43 (34.8%) from the field and found no flow offensively in the half court.
Damien Inglis and Clint Capela gave the World Team solid minutes in the third quarter, but Rana's squad was unable to garner any consistent production outside of Mudiay and Murray, who scored six of his 10 points in the first few minutes with a pair of threes.
While the World Team really struggled to get anything going, Team USA played with great effort and energy. They came out of the gates slowly against the World Team's 3-2 zone defense, struggling to make jump shots, committing sloppy turnovers and ultimately trailing 18-13 at the end of the first quarter, but as the World Team continued to turn the ball over and have issues sharing it in the half court, Team USA took a 44-38 lead into half time and never looked back.
This team was loaded with winners, sporting 11 combined gold medals between them. Every player had been through the USA system in some capacity, and that winning pedigree and chemistry certainly showed tonight.
As much as last season's game was played at an extremely high level for the age and experience level of the players on the floor, no player aside from Emmanuel Mudiay was particularly dominant this year.
For the USA, Justise Winslow finished with a team best 16-points. While he is not the most highly ranked player here, he may be the team's most intense competitor, and his athleticism and high activity level showed as he finished a number of plays in transition and was regularly around the ball crashing the offensive glass. Winslow's 30-footer to beat the buzzer at the end of the 1st half put an exclamation point on the run they made to recapture the lead late in the 2nd quarter.
Fellow Duke commits Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor were also very solid, if not spectacular. On pace to be the top player in the 2014 high school class RSCI, Okafor didn't get a ton of touches inside, but showed soft touch and solid footwork when he did. Although he turned the ball over 4 times when he got more aggressive late in the game, he was fairly efficient overall scoring 14 points on 11 shots and pulling down 10 boards as the only player to finish the game with a double-double. One of the most efficient players at the 2013 U19 World Championships where he posted a PER above 40, Okafor seemed to approach this game with a similar team-first mindset.
Jones finished the game with 6 assists, converted a number of impressive floaters, and was very steady running the US's offense. While Jones is not the kind of player that is going to blow you away with his athleticism or stand out in a setting like this, he was integral in guiding the US to victory with his decision-making. There's no question Duke will have more balance next season with Winslow, Okafor, and Jones in the fold.
Kelly Oubre made his presence felt using his athleticism and shooting ability to pour in 14 points. While Oubre's shot selection and shooting consistency leave something to be desired, he knocked down 2 of his 7 attempts from beyond the arc and made the most of every opportunity to get to the rim. He may not be the same caliber of prospect as Andrew Wiggins is, but he can make an instant impact next season for the Jayhawks.
For the World Select Team, Emmanuel Mudiay did exactly what he told us he would early in the week, taking over the game for stretches after mostly deferring to his teammates during the practices. Finishing with 20 points on 8-18 from the field, Mudiay was very aggressive in transition and on the pick and roll. Though his decision-making can leave something to be desired at times, his ability to get to where he wants with the ball in his hands and explosiveness make him a player to watch next season at SMU and the most intriguing long-term prospects that appeared in this game.
Nikola Jokic, the star of practice the week leading up to the game, scored only five points in 15 minutes on 1-of-3 shooting and really struggled defending Jahlil Okafor inside. Though he finished with 7 rebounds, he wasn't able to make the most of the momentum he built up earlier this week. It will be worth keeping an eye on how he plays as Mega Vizura enters Serbian League for the competition's 2nd stage.
Future Kentucky Wildcats Karl Towns and Trey Lyles combined for only 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting, and 16-year-old phenom Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk played his age, going 1-for-4 from the field in 13 minutes as none of the three were able to get it going. Towns played extremely well early on, showing as much intensity as we've seen from him all week, but found himself in foul trouble, which limited his impact in the 2nd half.
Karl Towns, 6'11, Center, St. Joseph's (NJ)
Committed to Kentucky
Standing about 7'0 with a 7'3.5 wingspan and a massive 9'5 standing reach, Towns looked a bit more mature than he did a year ago physically, sporting more muscle in his upper body. He's not a freak, but is nonetheless a fairly impressive athlete for a player his height.
Towns came out on game day and was far and away the most impressive player on the floor early on, putting his size and skill to good use scoring inside and challenging a number of shots defensively. Finding himself in foul trouble, Towns played just 17 minutes and wasn't very effective late in the game, which was in many ways a microcosm of what we saw from him throughout the week.
Finishing an impressive dunk, tossing in a number of hook shots, and scoring with deft touch in practice, Towns had some truly impressive moments in Portland, but was also quiet for stretches. His skill level and ability to make shots from the perimeter was clear in drills, but he seemed coast on the outside at times and wasn't always as physical operating inside as he was at others during the competitive portion of practice.
Towns is an impact player on both ends of the floor when he's engaged, and it will be interesting to see just what John Calipari can draw out of the young center. He has truly unique touch and coordination for a player his size, but can be even more imposing when he's assertive in the post. Looking like an obvious one-and-done candidate regardless, it will be interesting to see what kind of balance Towns is able to strike on the offensive end as a freshman in what figures to be a very crowded Kentucky big man rotation.
Trey Lyles, 6'10, Power Forward, Arsenal Tech (IN)
Committed to Kentucky
Standing 6'10 with a 7'3.5 wingspan, Lyles looks to be entering college in the best shape of his young career, having put plenty of work into his body over the last year. He's a good, not great athlete by NBA standards, but has terrific physical tools for a young power forward prospect overall.
As we've noted every time we've watched him, the Saskatoon native is an extremely skilled power forward, and that much was evident immediately when watching his polished footwork and outstanding body control in drills all week. Though the consensus top-10 recruit struggled to make shots from the perimeter and finish against length in the competitive portions of practice, he made some adjustments on game day, looking to compensate by crashing the glass more aggressively.
This was obviously not Lyles's best showing, but it doesn't change his outlook heading into his freshman year at Kentucky. He had a nice showing in Chicago at the McDonald's All-American Game practices and has proven over the course of his career than he has the inside-outside scoring ability and exceptional basketball IQ to be a potential matchup problem and impact player from day one at the college level. His ability to score efficiently and defend will play a big role in how he's perceived around this time next year.
Brandone Francis, 6'5, Shooting Guard, Arlington Country Day (FL)
Committed to Florida
A somewhat stocky, strong 6'5 guard with a 6'7 wingspan, Francis has a fairly mature frame and decent size for a shooting guard prospect. An average athlete, he shows good speed when he gets a head of steam in the open floor, but is not overwhelming quick or explosive when making plays in the half court.
Known for his skill level and ability to make plays with the ball in his hands coming into this event, Francis was forced to play point guard out of necessity for stretches. Though he made a few nice passes, looking ahead to the college game, he's is more of a scorer with passing ability than a natural playmaker at the moment as he gets out of control at times and is still in the early stages of learning how to play at different speeds.
Francis had a rough week shooting the ball, struggling with his range off the catch in drills and looking a bit erratic off the dribble in the scrimmages, but he still proved capable of making shots just inside the college three-point line with some consistency.
Perhaps the best thing Francis did was bring terrific energy to the floor, playing hard and being vocal much of the week. He's a solid rebounder for a guard and is a willing defender as well. He's not great in any one area at this point, and it will be interesting to watch Bill Donovan mold him into a player over time given his competitiveness and ability to do a little bit of everything.