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World Team's Unselfish Play Tops Team USA In 2013 Nike Hoop Summit

04/21/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    Led by 27 points and 13 rebounds from French national Livio Jean-Charles and 17 points and nine rebounds by Canadian Andrew Wiggins as well as slid team-oriented play helped the World team defeat Team USA in the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit by the score of 112-98.

    The future is always a murky and difficult subject, especially at this level of basketball, where what we don't know almost always outweighs what we do. However, once a year in Portland, Nike puts together the Nike Hoop Summit, which promises to bring the you "tomorrow's stars today." The future, at least for one day, is the present. Although, many things will happen and these players could develop in a number of ways before they play on an NBA court again.

    For Team USA and a few members of the World team, this was the final game of their high school careers before they move on to college campuses in the fall.

    Ten United States high school seniors facing off against 11 players as old as 19-years old originating from Europe, Latin America, Canada and Africa.

    All week, roughly over a 100 NBA scouts were in the Portland area taking in the practices from the week. The biggest names on display at the event were surely Duke commit Jabari Parker of Chicago playing for Team USA and the uncommitted and almost mysterious Andrew Wiggins. Parker finished with 22 points on 10 of 23 shooting, showcasing his smooth jumper and great elevation as well as size, starting at center for his team. Wiggins, despite being likely the most hyped recruit due to his video-game like athleticism, did not play like a guy who was trying to show off. Wiggins finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

    World Coach Roy Rana, also a Canadian, credited the team's willingness to play an unselfish, team-oriented style of basketball.

    "The most impressive thing is the way we shared the ball since the start of practice," said Rana.

    The World team assisted on 24 of their 38 made field goals whereas Team USA assisted on 15 of their 37 made baskets.

    Throughout the week, it was said that certain players like German Point Guard Dennis Schroeder (18 points, six assists, exceptional control of the World team offense) and Russian swing-man Sergey Karasev (seven points) had improved their draft stock during the week but with the World team getting in practices since the start of the week, and most of them being at 80 percent speed, it was hard to tell whether their solid workouts would transfer over to a solid performance against team USA team with several blue-chip recruits who figure to be a selected in the top five of next year's NBA draft along with Canadian Andrew Wiggins.

    Rana praised his team for, despite being a very talented and deep team, for not having any one player put their own wants or need for shots get in the way of playing winning basketball.

    The World started off the game by feeling out what the United States was going to do. The United States were getting buckets from Kentucky recruit Andrew Harrison (19 points, five assists), who scored nine points in the first quarter but it seemed that nearly all of Harrison's and Team USA's buckets were coming off tough one-on-one jumpers. The World was simply finding the open man.

    With Team USA's attention focused on the host of fantastic players and names that have been in the mouths of media and NBA scouts at the event like Schroeder, Wiggins and Karasev, there were lots of openings in Team USA's defense, ones exploited by French national Livio Jean-Charles, showing all the tools to be a potential role player in the league some day by taking advantage of the open spaces given to him.

    Jean-Charles scored 27 points, almost all of which came from cuts to the basket or open midrange jumpers that he converted with ease. He shot 10 of 13 on the night and finished with a game-high 13 rebounds as well as two blocks. After the game, Jean-Charles talked about the team's willingness to share the ball and he also spoke with Nicolas Batum. One reporter asked Jean-Charles about the exchange, which was quite humorous.

    "He told me he hoped I didn't score the last two free throws and he scored 25 points (when Batum played in the Nike Hoop Summit) and he doesn't want me to beat (his) record. He told me Tony Parker, who is the president of my club (Villeurbanne in France), that he is happy for me."

    Another problem for Team USA, in addition to not moving the ball well or handling the World team's defensive pressure was the size that the World team had. They had three seven footers (Mohammadou Jaiteh, six points and nine boards, Karl Towns,  seven points, four assists, four rebounds and Joel Embiid, seven points and seven rebounds) on their roster, all who got over 14 minutes of play. They were able to occupy space in the middle and the entire World team did a great job of hitting the glass. The World team finished with a 50-35 rebounding advantage.

    Team USA was able to make a push in the third quarter with Parker finding his rhythm. However, the World proved once again to be too strong as Australian Dante Exum, who has also turned a lot heads this week, took over late in the game. Exum finished with 16 points, three rebounds, two steals, two assists and a massive block on the night, showing great length and versatility as a 6'9'' guard.

    After the game, the two players who have been at the center of attention for the past three weeks which have included the McDonald's All-American game and the Jordan Brand Classic, both expressed relief that it has all finally come to an end. Parker said he's very behind on his school work for the past few weeks but that the experiences and the opportunity to play one final time with players he grew up with on the AAU circuit was something special for him. He said he was "grateful" to suit up with his high school friends "one last time," despite the toll it's taken on his studies.

    "We always dreamed about being here. That's the sacrifice it takes out to live out our dreams."

    Wiggins was asked about what he's looking forward to now that his ultra-hyped career is over.

    "Just not as much traveling. I've been traveling for like three weeks.  Just lay in my bed and watch TV for hours and just do me."

    For now, these players, specifically the American high school players (Team USA and a couple of players from the World team like Wiggins, Towns and Embiid) can get back to being kids once more.

    They will only get that opportunity for a brief time, however, as they will no doubt have a summer full of training in front of them before the pressure is turned up, the lights get brighter and the scrutiny becomes even louder.

    The future of today has now given way to the anticipation for their college careers and now their lives will only continue to get crazier. However Wiggins was clear he is in no hurry and will continue to take things in stride

    "I'm just trying to take it day-by-day."

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