Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Warming up for the Nike Hoop Summit

Both Americans and internationals attending high school in the U.S. took to the court last week in the McDonald's All-American game. The East team, lead by Junior Select Team member Tyreke Evans, beat the West squad 107-102 in front of 10,914 at the Bradley Center. That attendance number is only about 3,000 less that what the Bucks are pulling in on an average night this season.

As you might expect, both the East and West rosters have a number of USA Select and International Select players who will be taking to the court on April 12 for the Nike Hoop Summit. To get an idea of the skills that will be on display at the Rose Garden, here's a recap of how the Nike Hoops Summit participants fared in the McDonald's All-American game.
6-9 SF Al-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest): Aminu has the frame of a prototypical NBA small forward. He will have to improve his skills off the dribble as well as both his mid-range and long-range jumpers. Aminu also has to add strength and improve on defense.

6-9 PF Ed Davis (North Carolina): Davis pounds the offensive glass with aggression. He also has a nice left-hand jump hook he does not use nearly enough. Davis needs to continue to improve footwork in the post and add a right-hand jump hook to diversify his game.

6-6 SF Demar DeRozan (USC): Derozan has pro potential given his great size and body for an incoming college freshman. His leaping ability and quickness also make him very intriguing. Derozan has to continue to develop his jump shot, but presently he excels most in the open court on the fast break.

6-6 SG Tyreke Evans (undecided): Evans has the ability to score points in bunches, preferring to use his quick first step to penetrate to the basket as opposed to shooting the perimeter jump shot. When he drives, he generally goes right. Once at the rim, Evans uses his upper body strength, long arms, body control, and hang-time to absorb contact, make in-air adjustments, while still converting the basket. As he prepares for the next level, he will have to improve his jump-shot in addition to becoming a better ball-handler.

6-4 combo guard Jrue Holiday (UCLA): Holiday does everything on the basketball court. He has a never-ending motor and plays great defense with no fear of contesting shots. Holiday adeptly anticipates passes and steps in the passing lanes for steals topped off by finishes at the basket. He has uncanny ability to finish with his left hand (off-hand) after absorbing contact in the lane.

6-5 SG Scotty Hopson (undecided): Due to his quickness with the ball, Hopson relies on getting to the basket for his points. He will have to continue to work on his jumper and add more elements to his offense game.

6-4 SG Malcolm Lee (UCLA): Lee has good leaping ability and quick feet, which helps him to get out on the fast break for lay-ins and dunks. He also plays great defense, moving his feet well. Lee will have to continue to improve shooting skills this summer.

6-10 PF Greg Monroe (Georgetown): Monroe sustained an injury above his eye that hindered his effectiveness in the game. He did not respond well to the challenge of having to guard the East's better players. Monroe also faltered on a number of outlet passes, which probably resulted from the cut above his eye.

6-9 C Samardo Samuels (Louisville): Samuels established deep post position early on in the game. However, as the game went on, his team did not look to get him involved as much. He needs to demand the ball more on offense and make his guards aware he wants the ball. Samuels has really nice footwork in the post and displayed that part of his game more. Samuels has deceptively good athletic gifts he needs to utilize more.

By all accounts, the Nike Hoop Summit is likely to be a much better game than the McDonald's All-American. Expect a little less showboating and a bit more aggressive defense at the Hoops Summit.

Tickets are still available for the April 12 game. Lower bowl seats are only $6 if you buy in advance.

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