Future Shock: Nike Hoop Summit
More questions than answers for the next wave of star basketball players.
by Wendell Maxey
On a night when Harrison Barnes and Enes Kanter stole the show at the Nike Hoop Summit, Terrence Jones was the last man standing.
Cornered by a dozen media members after the USA Junior National Team defeated the World Select Team, 101-97 in Portland, OR, on Saturday night, the 6-9 forward and all-everything from Jefferson High School reiterated that his collegiate future remains uncertain.
“I’m going to announce my decision on April 23 or 30,” said Jones, who lists Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oregon, UCLA and Washington among his college finalists.
“But I won’t wait past the 30th.”
While the 18-year-old Jones – a 2010 Parade Magazine All-American and McDonald’s All-American — finished with 15 points and 4 rebounds in front of a hometown crowd, one thing became glaringly obvious throughout the night: this game was a glimpse into the future for everyone involved.
That goes for those on the USA roster who will attend North Carolina (Barnes, Reggie Bullock, Kendall Marshall), Duke (Kyrie Irving), Memphis (Will Barton), Florida (Patric Young), Tennessee (Tobias Harris), Ohio State (Jared Sullinger) and Illinois (Meyers Leonard) in the fall.
That goes for the two still undecided (Jones and Brandon Knight) on what their next step will be.
That goes for the number of NBA front office executives and team scouts who were on hand at the Rose Garden. They were among the 7,354 in attendance who probably wondered if one day they’d see these kids don their own teams’ NBA jersey.
The 13th annual Nike Hoop Summit has become synonymous with greatness. It’s dubbed the “country’s premiere basketball game,” and featured 10 of America’s top senior boys pitted against a World Select Team consisting of 11 of the world’s best players who are 19 years old or younger. As of last December, there were 53 former USA players and 15 former World Team members active in the NBA.
No doubt some names that competed in this game will one day make their mark on the League. For others, only question marks exist.
Before tip-off, there was talk from one NBA scout that guys like Barnes (a smooth 6-8 guard) and Sullinger (the bulky 6-9 center) are the most likely to be “one and done” after they get a year of college ball under their belts. And once the ball went up, you could see why Barnes was one of two on that opinion list.
After opening the game with a deep three, the Ames, Iowa product was aggressive on both ends of the floor. He took guys off the dribble with ease. He dunked with emotion. And when the game was on the line, Harrison delivered. Trailing by 12 points entering the fourth quarter, Barnes’ three-pointer with 1:10 left gave the USA a 94-92 lead on the way to victory.
“I had a good night shooting the three and am usually more in attack mode going to the hoop, but my teammates did a good job of finding me,” said Barnes, who was the leading scorer for the USA with 27 points and 7 rebounds.
Barnes represented well, but Enes Kanter for the World Team — a 6-10 center from Stoneridge Prep in California by way of Turkey — was all the talk after an impressive performance. It was one for the records.
He led all scorers with 34 points and 13 rebounds and bested the Nike Hoop Summit record of 33 points set by Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki back in 1998.
“It’s probably one of the best I’ve seen in a long time,” said World Team head coach Rob Beveridge of Kanter, who will attend Kentucky in the fall.
As Beveridge sat at the postgame press conference podium with Kanter and Tristan Thompson (6-8 forward who is committed to play at the University of Texas in the ’10-11 season), he couldn’t be more proud of his team despite the loss. But even then, focus quickly changed from the present and into the future.
“I think legitimately five, five out of this group,” Beveridge admitted when asked how many players on his roster he believed had NBA potential.
“There’s no doubt they’ll play in the NBA in the future.”
Still, some reservations exist.
The League will wait, but people around Portland and the five schools on his shortlist can’t do the same in finding out where Terrence Jones will sign to play college basketball next season.
“I want to enjoy the coach and the atmosphere and have a family chemistry with the team and find somewhere that I would want to be for four years,” Jones explained.
“I don’t know yet.”
Wendell Maxey is a freelance writer and has covered the NBA for the past six years from New York to Portland. A contributing writer for USA TODAY, Wendell can be read more at www.beyondthebeat.net.