Hoop Summit: Player evaluations after USA dominates World

In a new Hoop Summit record for margin of victory, Team USA defeated the World Team 101-67 on Saturday.

For anyone who was at practices this week for both teams this doesn’t really come as a surprise. Watching the World Team practice vs. watching the US team practice was like watching two different sports due to the increase in length and athleticism level on the United States side. Simply put, this was one of the weakest international rosters assembled in recent memory and one of the strongest classes of United States talent to come through the high school ranks in years.

The event in Portland is always a terrific one, as it gives NBA scouts (over 140 of which were credentialed) a chance to see quite a few players early on in their developments. For most players in attendance, it’s over a year in advance of when they can declare for the NBA Draft.

Overall, there was a lot to be excited about in regard to the United States prospects, and not much to look forward to if you’re a fan of the international team. Here’s a breakdown of each United States player I saw this week, as well as a few standouts or noteworthy guys on the international roster.

UNITED STATES

Terrence Ferguson, G/F, Undecided

Measurements: 6-7, 186 pounds, 6-9.5 wingspan, 8-7 standing reach

Overall stats: 21 points on 7-of-11 3-point shooting, two rebounds, two steals, one assist

Ferguson was the star of the game, breaking a Hoop Summit record for 3-pointers made in the game as he knocked down seven on his way to 21 points in 15 minutes in the United States win.

That’s Ferguson’s skill set at this point in a nutshell. The 17-year-old is a shooter — albeit a streaky one still, as he showed throughout the week — as well as an excellent athlete and a tough defensive competitor. He has solid length to play both wing positions both in college and in the NBA, and projects nicely as an athletic 3-and-D guy professionally if he can continue to refine each of those skills over the next couple of years. The key for him will be improving as a ball-handler and driver going forward. Overall though, this was a terrific showing for Ferguson in front of NBA scouts.

Jayson Tatum, F, Signed to play at Duke

Measurements: 6-8.25, 204 pounds, 6-11 wingspan, 8-10.5 standing reach

Overall stats: 14 points on 4 of 8 shooting, 6 of 6 from the free-throw line. Four rebounds, two steals, two assists

Tatum had a solid, if unspectacular, week. On the plus side, his fluidity at showed through at just about every turn. He was great at getting into passing lanes for steals and superb at either leading the break himself or leaking out into transition for a pass. That’s where a majority of his baskets came throughout the course of the week.

However, there are some concerns about Tatum’s ability to score in the halfcourt consistently. Tatum is a solid athlete, but not an elite one by any means. He’s a good midrange shooter, but he tends to fall in love with it instead of relentlessly attacking defenders and putting them in tough positions. Also, his jump shot right now doesn’t really look like it’s in a place to extend out consistently to the 3-point line sooner rather than later. So many of the shots he takes are of the fall-away variety, and it can be a bit flat even if it has a quick release. These are things he needs to work on going forward.

Of course, there’s a lot more to be excited about with Tatum than there isn’t, given that he’s the No. 4 player in the country according to the 247Sports composite ranking. He can also rebound, pass, and he is versatile on the defensive end. He’s going to be an awesome college basketball player at Duke next season, and his combination with Harry Giles and company is going to be superb. Tatum will be a first round pick in the future. But if he wants to go in the top-five like most projections currently have him, he has some somewhat large questions to answer still.

Markelle Fultz, G, Signed to play with Washington

Measurements: 6-4.75, 186 pounds, 6-9 wingspan, 8-6 standing reach

Overall stats: 11 points, five steals, three assists, three rebounds

Fultz was one of the big winners of the week, consistently showing off his superior athleticism and feel for the game. In this one, he was active on both ends, showed off his jump-shooting ability, and also utilized the length the seen above in his measurements as well as his superb quickness to create plenty of turnovers.

The best skill Fultz has though is as a creator on offense. There are few players in this class as creative as Fultz is with the ball in his hands. He sees the entire floor, and is capable of making just about any variety of bounce, skip, or outlet pass imaginable. Plus, he genuinely has the size of a 2-guard yo go with it, which allows him to see over the defense and create in the best way he sees fit. He’ll occasionally get lackadaisical with the ball or on defense, but on the whole there’s a lot to be excited about.

Given his overall dimensions, athleticism, and basketball IQ, there are few guards in this class with the upside that Fultz has — both at the college and the NBA level. One of them, though, is…

De’Aaron Fox, G, Signed to play with Kentucky

Measurements: 6-3.25, 171 pounds, 6-6.25 wingspan, 8-4.5 standing reach

Overall stats: Nine points on 4 of 7 shooting, five assists, two steals

There might not be a better two-way guard in the Class of 2016 than Fox, and he showed that time and again on Saturday. Fox did a great job of finding passing angles in the halfcourt for his teammates, and even hit a few shots of his own to boot, including a pretty floater at the start of the second half. That paled in comparison to his defensive prowess though, as Fox just simply overpowered the World Team’s guard on that end with his quickness, length and motor.

Fox played a big hand in forcing opposing point guards Andres Feliz and Will McDowell-White into 13 turnovers just between the two of them, even if he only ended up with two steals on the stat sheet. The type of play above was emblematic of Fox throughout the week, as he continued to get more comfortable as the days wore on and began to dominate the action with his ability to control the pace of play as well as create open shots for his teammates. Kentucky is losing a superb true point guard in Tyler Ulis that won both the SEC’s player of the year and defensive player of the year award, but Fox is about as strong a replacement on both ends as you can find in a freshman. He’s not long for the college game.

De'Aaron Fox was terrific again in the Hoop Summit Game. (USATSI)
De’Aaron Fox was terrific again in the Hoop Summit Game. (Sam Forencich/USA Basketball)

Jarrett Allen, F/C, Undecided

Measurements: 6-10.5, 227 pounds, 7-5.5 wingspan, 9-2.5 standing reach

Overall stats: Nine points, nine rebounds, three blocks, two steals

Allen was another big winner of the week, showing that he is among the best centers in the class. The near-6-11 freshman with ridiculously long arms was great all week, showing off really good defensive instincts in blocking shots, great hands both in catching entry passes or corralling rebounds, and a soft touch inside. There is as much upside here as there is in any other true big man (that is, non-stretch big men) in the country.

Even if the shooting ended up eluding him in the game, it’s hard not to come away impressed with what Allen was able to show. Wherever Allen goes — and the race for his services seems to be as up in the air as any undecided’s in this class — they’re going to get a superb rim protector that can play in a pick-and-roll, grab both offensive and defensive rebounds, and play smart basketball. That’s what just about every team in the country is looking for in a big man, both at the college and NBA levels.

Wenyen Gabriel, F, Signed to play with Kentucky

Measurements: 6-9.25, 197 pounds, 7-1 wingspan, 9-1 standing reach

Overall stats: Two points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals

Gabriel had a bit of a hit-or-miss week in practice, and followed it up with a quiet game. When he was playing well — as he did in the yearly Thursday night scrimmage — Gabriel was tough and physical inside despite his slight frame. He grabbed rebounds in traffic both in and outside of his zone, he protected the rim, and showed a physicality that he hadn’t shown even as early as last summer. He also did some impressive things on the perimeter, stroking a few 3s and, particularly in the game against the World, making some really nice passes in high-low settings.

Where Gabriel can get in trouble is when he floats a bit on the perimeter, which makes sense given his frame. The near-6-10 forward has the ball-handling and slashing ability that can work on the high school level from the perimeter, but it’s unclear if that stuff will work in college. To me, Gabriel is at his best when he plays inside and allows that to set the tone for his game outside, not the other way around.

In that way, Kentucky seems like a relatively perfect fit for Gabriel. Calipari is a big fan of forcing his big men to play inside. Given Gabriel’s high motor level when he’s deployed in that role, that fit could be excellent. However, he might have to battle for minutes in that role, given all of the talent the Wildcats have returning to and entering the fold.

Marquese Bolden, F/C, Undecided

Measurements: 6-11, 250 pounds, 7-6 wingspan, 9-4.5 standing reach

Overall stats: Three points, two rebounds, one steal

Bolden was one of the quieter players throughout the week. During drill sessions, it’s relatively easy to see the skills that have Kentucky and Duke fans clamoring for his services on their teams next year. Bolden has superb hands, mobile feet in the post at 250 pounds, ridiculously long arms, and really nice touch with both hands around the basket.

In the scrimmages and games, Bolden was mostly resigned to being the fifth option this week during his time here, so we didn’t get a chance to necessarily see his best. He still did a good job of carving out space inside though, and his rebounding was solid. Even if this wasn’t necessarily a week that will make people re-assess his place among the elite players of 2016, it was still nice to see him contribute when he got the chance.

Jonathan Isaac, F, Signed to play at Florida State

Measurements: 6-10.5, 205 pounds, 7’1.25 wingspan, 9’0.5 standing reach

Overall game stats: Seven points, four rebounds, two assists

Early in the week, it seemed like this would be Isaac’s coming out party in front of NBA scouts. But even though he tailed off a bit later in the week, his skills are quite clear and impressive when projecting to the next levels.

At over 6-10 with a 7-1-plus wingspan, Isaac has a great frame to play either forward position in the NBA if he can continue to put on weight. Athletically, Isaac is fluid enough to play either position well, as he’s explosive yet also quite coordinated. He has the ability to lead the break as well as fill in lanes. He can shoot, but he can also drive to the rim from the perimeter. He rebounds well, he fights for position, and he isn’t afraid to block a shot.

Basically, there are few high school players in the country as versatile as Isaac is, and that is going to endear him to NBA scouts. Speaking of which, Isaac reiterated to me earlier in the week that he is going to Florida State and not going to declare for the draft even in light of the Thon Maker decision and his own previous waffling on challenging the process. If I was him though, I’d be watching that decision relatively closely. If Isaac could find his way into the 2016 Draft, he could be a lottery pick given his potential upside. He would be the real prize of the fifth-year high school players, so I’m not sure I’d shut the door fully if I was him.

Frank Jackson, G, Signed to play with Duke

Measurements: 6-3.5, 208 pounds, 6-6.75 wingspan, 8-2.5 standing reach

Overall stats: One point, one rebound, three assists

Jackson wasn’t great during the game, but he showed off his polished game throughout the course of the week. Jackson can knock down shots from the outside, get penetration against the defense due to his athleticism, and finish around the rim either with his explosive leaping ability or his solid floater game. He’s going to be a good college basketball player.

He’s a combo guard at this stage, through and through. For next year, he needs to become a bit more polished as a passer and creator for others — given what his role will be as the lead guard on that Duke team. He also would be benefitted by learning to jump off of one foot as opposed to constantly going up with two feet. It buys the defense an extra split second with which to close around him.

Josh Jackson, G/F, Undecided

Measurements: 6-7.75. 202 pounds, 6-9.75 wingspan, 8-3 standing reach

Overall stats: Seven points, four rebounds

Jackson did not show up to Portland until 15 minutes before the Thursday night scrimmage started. During that scrimmage, Jackson did what he typically does: played harder than anyone else on the floor, showcased tremendous athleticism, and also portrayed terrific passing ability. Really, the passing was what he most showed off this week, as his vision for making plays for others is terrific both in half-court and transition settings.

Jackson is one of the two top players in the class along with Harry Giles, for my money. Showing up late here isn’t going to change that, and his college decision — supposedly coming this week — will change the complexion of the upcoming NCAA season in a big way.

Kadeem Allen will be one of the key players for Arizona this year. (USATSI)
Better late than never this week, for Josh Jackson. (Sam Forencich/USA Basketball)

Joshua Langford, G/F, Signed to play with Michigan State

Measurements: 6-4.75, 200 pounds, 6-7.5 wingspan, 8-4 standing reach

Overall stats: Five points, four rebounds

Langford is going to be a typical Tom Izzo wing. He’s tough, he’s physical, and he can slash to the rim utilizing both of those attributes. He’s not necessarily the same caliber prospect as those above him — all of the players until this point have a chance to be a one-and-done player if things go right — but he’s still going to be a good, productive college player at Michigan State, especially if he can improve his jump shot.

Payton Pritchard, G, Signed to play with Oregon

Measurements: 6-4, 202 pounds, 6-4 wingspan, 8-0.5 standing reach

Overall stats: 12 points on 4 of 8 from 3, two assists

Pritchard is another player who projects to be a superb college player, and he showed why in this game. His shooting was solid, hitting 4 of 8 from beyond the arc. He knows how to hit shots off the catch, and he can also hit them off the dribble and create rhythm for himself. Another important factor is he knows how to get separation from the defense despite his size, be it with either step-backs or quick crossover dribbles.

Pritchard’s also a smart passer that can create plays for others through either his basketball IQ when it comes to making a second pass, or his shifty dribbling ability once he gets into the paint. Dana Altman and Oregon are going to love what Pritchard can bring to their team over the course of the next four years.

Harry Giles, F, Signed to play with Duke

Measurements: 6-10.75, 222 pounds, 7-3 wingspan, 9-1 standing reach

Overall stats: Honorary Captain

Giles was just here hanging out with Team USA while he recovers from a torn ACL that he suffered in the fall. The near-6-11 big man was walking around with no problems perceivable to the naked eye, even if he’s still not cleared for to fully get going yet. If he comes back healthy and as explosive as he’s shown in the past, Giles is the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft.

INTERNATIONAL STANDOUTS

DeAndre Ayton, F, Undecided (Class of 2017)

Measurements: 6-11.75, 243 pounds, 7-5.5 wingspan, 9-3 standing reach

Overall stats: Eight points, seven rebounds, one assist

Ayton is considered one of the best prospects in all of high school basketball, and it’s easy to see why given his measurements. You couldn’t build a more perfect frame to play basketball in a laboratory than his. Plus, throw in the fact that there’s not really any one skill that he can’t do on a basketball floor — from shoot, to rebound, to block shots, to handle the ball for a seven-footer, to anything else — and it’s easy to see why Ayton is considered something of an almost ceiling-less prospect.

The problem with Ayton is that his motor runs hot and cold. This week, scouts never really got to see the full package that makes Ayton such a highly-regarded player because he didn’t always play as hard as he could or command the ball. Sure, the guards were also a major problem, as the World team were vastly overmatched in the backcourt. But Ayton could have done a lot more to distinguish himself among this group of players, and didn’t.

Isaia Cordinier, G, 19 years old (eligible for 2016 NBA Draft)

Measurements: 6-4.75, 177 pounds, 6-8 wingspan, 8-6 standing reach

Overall stats: Eight points, five rebounds, one assist

Cordinier had something of a quiet week overall for the World. In the game, he really struggled to match the speed of the United States team. There were flashes of the explosiveness that has made him considered a top-40 prospect for this upcoming draft, but they were just that: flashes. Throughout the week as well, Cordinier didn’t exactly distinguish himself within the less-talented World Team settings as he often took a backseat to other guards who handled the ball, like Feliz or McDowell-White.

The Frenchman and his handlers were likely hoping that Hoop Summit could be something of a boost to his stock before he goes into team workouts. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Still though, there’s a lot to like. He’s a smart player with the ability to hit shots from the outside, as well as display shiftiness with the ball in his hands even if his handle can get a little loose. It’s also worth noting that he’s an unselfish passer and playmaker, never unwlling to make the extra dish. Finally, the kid really just plays hard at all times, and that helps him utilize his athleticism often.

This week though, that unselfishness seemed to override everything else, and more often than not he was just another guy as opposed to a difference maker. Still though, the flashes were there often enough that he should be able to garner a lot of workouts if he decides to declare fully for this draft.

Wesley “Mogi” Silva, G/F, 19 years old (eligible for 2016 Draft)

Measurements: 6-5.5, 189 pounds, 6-10 wingspan, 8-7.5 standing reach

Overall stats: Nine points, eight rebounds

Mogi was the best player for the World team during the game, or at least the most productive. The reason for that is due to his motor. The Brazilian has one of the best motors you’ll find in a wing prospect, and he uses it to attack the glass and generally just run as much as he can to create opportunities. That motor could get him a look or two from teams looking to stash a player in the second round. It’s still rather unlikely, though.

Harry Froling, F/C, Signed to play at SMU

Measurements: 6-11, 261 pounds, 6-10.75 wingspan, 8-11.5 standing reach

Overall stats: Four points, three rebounds, one assist

Froling wasn’t a standout during the game, but he was throughout the week at practice for the World Team. The 6-11 big man is going to be a terrific college basketball player next season, as he’s extremely smart, physical, tough, and skilled. He is just as comfortable inside banging bodies as he is outside shooting 3s. He has great touch inside with both his passing ability and his talent for finishing at the rim.

The lack of length will be a major hindrance to his NBA prospects, but for now it’s hard not to like what Froling could provide in college hoops as soon as next season.

Edin Atic, G/F, 19 years old (eligible for 2016 Draft)

Measurements: 6-7, 195 pounds, 6-9.75 wingspan, 8-6 standing reach

Overall stats: Four points, three rebounds

Atic is another potentially draftable player in the future due to his size and ability to shoot. The Bosnian who currently plays for Spars Sarajevo can hit shots off the catch or off the dribble, and he has solid feel for the game with his passing ability. The athleticism is a quesiton, but he’s at least one to watch for the future if he can continue to improve.

Justin Jackson, F, Currently signed to play at UNLV

Measurements: 6-6.75, 229 pounds, 7-3 wingspan, 8-7.5 standing reach

Overall stats: One rebound in three minutes

Jackson was unable to play much in this one due to a groin injury that he battled through all week. Still though, the measurements are eye-opening at the very least for the Canadian, and he’s considered one of the top-50 players in the country by most scouting services. He’s another player worth keeping an eye on, especially given that he might seek to change schools due to UNLV’s coaching change.

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