Nike officials on Wednesday acknowledged the existence of a new event in the Bahamas that CBS Sports detailed last week — an event which sources told CBS Sports was created primarily to lure elite prospects away from the Under Armour Elite 24 game in New York.
In simple terms, Nike’s plan worked.
Because Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Malik Monk — i.e., three consensus top-five prospects from the Class of 2016, all of whom accepted invitations to the Under Armour Elite 24 last year — have committed to play in Nike’s event in the Bahamas scheduled for Aug. 19-23. If you’re wondering, yes, those dates completely overlap the UA Elite 24.
“Nike did what it wanted to do,” one prominent industry source told CBS Sports. “They wanted to keep as many top prospects as possible from wearing Under Armour gear live on ESPN. Regardless of what they say, that’s what this whole thing is about.”
The 12 players who accepted Nike’s invitations to the Bahamas are:
- Mohamed Bamba (No. 5 in Class of 2017)
- Miles Bridges (No. 16 in Class of 2016)
- Wendell Carter (No. 3 in Class of 2017)
- De’Aaron Fox (No. 7 in Class of 2016)
- Harry Giles (No. 1 in Class of 2016)
- Jonathan Isaac (No. 10 in Class of 2016)
- Malik Monk (No. 4 in Class of 2016)
- Michael Porter Jr (No. 2 in Class of 2017)
- Jayson Tatum (No. 5 in Class of 2016)
- Gary Trent (No. 8 in Class of 2017)
- Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 4 in Class of 2017)
- Trae Young (No. 27 in Class of 2017)
Ten of the 12 players involved are ranked in the top 10 of their respective class, according to the 247 Composite Rankings. That’s an undeniably strong roster — especially considering Nike’s event was, relatively speaking, thrown together at the last minute. And it’s worth noting it could’ve been even stronger, in theory, because a source told CBS Sports that some prospects Nike targeted couldn’t accept invitations because they didn’t have passports needed to leave the country and couldn’t obtain one quickly enough.
“The fact that they’re putting something together, kind of last-minute, tells me they’re trying to play defense,” Nick Blatchford, Under Armour’s director of grassroots and college basketball, told CBS Sports. “It’s interesting to see them react to our event in this way.”