adidas Nations Notebook
Noah Vonleh and Emmanuel Mudiay scoop up MVP honors at Nations.
by Nima Zarrabi / @NZbeFree
Noah Vonleh didn’t even have time to wipe the blood off his lip.
The rising junior from New Hampton (NH) Prep just led his squad to an overtime victory in the championship game of the adidas Nations tourney with an impressive 25-point, 16-rebound showcase, earning him co-MVP honors with guard Emmanuel Mudiay. After posing for a few pictures with the gold basketball trophy in hand, Vonleh transitioned right into his interviews, blood still fresh on his lower lip from 37 minutes of battle in the paint. No big deal.
“I’m feeling real good cause we got this W,” Vonleh said with a laugh. After starting out 1-7 from the field, Vonleh put together a brilliant second half that included the game-winning three-pointer off a dish from teammate Mudiay with 2.7 seconds left in OT, lifting team USA 2014 Red to an 86-84 win against USA 2013 Blue.
Vonleh finished 9-22 from the field in a very competitive game at Long Beach City College, wrapping up the incredible four-day tournament that featured nine squads comprised of some of the best high school talent in the world. Vonleh was 0-4 from the three-point line prior to coming through in the clutch during OT.
“It wasn’t falling early but it fell when it counted the most,” he said. “In the beginning of the game I was struggling and it was kind of frustrating. When the second half came around, I knew I had to help my team win. The final play was drawn up for Emmanuel to just go and I was going to be in the corner and he was supposed to kick it to me. But he called me up for the screen and I thought he was going to drive down the middle and score but he kicked it to me since I was wide open and I hit the shot.”
Mudiay—a 6-4 PG from Grace Prepatory Academy in Arlington, TX—looked sharp on drives to the bucket all night, finishing with 18 points on 8-17 shooting. The championship game featured 12 lead changes and the USA 2013 Blue squad led by 10 points with less than seven minutes left in regulation, but could not hold their lead.
Devin Williams, an aggressive 6-8 post from Cincinnati who will be playing his senior season at Montverde Academy in Florida, led USA 2013 Blue with his leadership and superb play on both ends, finishing with 16 points and 8 rebounds.
“That was a tough team with a good group of guys,” said Williams, who wears black-framed glasses on court. “We had played them yesterday and beat them so the first half we kind of underestimated them a little bit and they kind of got on us. We picked it up in the second half, I don’t really know what to say—it came down to the end and was a good game.”
Jordan Mathews had 13 points for USA 2013 Blue while Kendal Harris added 12 points and Jermaine Lawrence finished with 11.
THIRD PLACE GAME
The consolation game was a showdown between Australia and USA 2014 Blue. After jumping out to an early 10-point lead in the first quarter, the Aussies had a difficult time getting contributions from anyone outside of their three top prospects, Dante Exum, Ben Simmons and Owen Odigie.
Their bench was outscored 43-6 by USA 2014 Blue. Even though they were short on firepower, the Aussie trio was extremely fun to watch, led by the natural point guard play of the 6-4 Exum. His father, Cecil, played for Dean Smith at North Carolina from 1980-84, teaming with Michael Jordan for a national title. Exum is extremely fluid and can get to the rim with ease and has a nice mid-range game. His cerebral play really stood out. A member of the Class of 2014, he intends to play his college ball in the US.
Simmons is considered an elite prospect in the Class of 2015 and has a brother and sister living in the States. The 6-6 wing is a southpaw with nice athleticism and major upside. He plans on returning to Australia for the upcoming year but might consider finishing high school in the US.
Exum posted 17 points (8-17), Odigie 15 points (6-7) and Simmons 14 points (5-13).
USA 2014 Blue was paced by Isaiah Whitehead of Lincoln (NY) High, who dropped 15 points on 4-11 from the field, earning MVP honors in the consolation contest. Whitehead had some nice takes to the bucket and helped set tempo for USA 2014 Blue. Justise Winslow added 14 points (5-7), and Craig Victor was a beast in the paint, collecting 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Derrick Rose stopped through Long Beach City College with his best friends to take in the first half. Also in attendance: UCLA freshmen Shabazz Muhammad (rocking frames, of course) and Kyle “Slow Mo” Anderson—who appears to be heading the Josh Childress route in terms of his hair.