De’Aaron Fox Hopes To Run The Show At 2016 Nike Hoop Summit
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A 6-foot-3 guard from Cypress Lakes High School in Katy, Texas, De’Aaron Fox is not shy about his personal goal for the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit.
“I just want to show that I’m the best player in the country,” Fox said. “I want to go out and defend the best player on the other team, be able to get people involved and also still show that I can score at any level.”
That, of course, came second to wanting to help the USA Junior National Select Team secure a win over the World Team in the 19th annual Nike Hoop Summit, which pits elite, U.S. high school seniors against the best international players who are 19 years old or younger. The Nike Hoop Summit will be played at 3 p.m. EDT on Saturday, April 9 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon.
“It means a lot to be able to represent my country and play against the World Team,” Fox said. “This is one of the most prestigious games for any high school player, so I just feel honored.”
Though it will be the first time Fox is a part of a 12-member USA Basketball roster, he has attended two previous USA Basketball training camps, which helped the scoring point guard understand how to excel as a distributor as well.
“It is meaningful to finally make a team,” Fox said. “It’s just a tribute to my progress.
“At the USA Basketball camps, I learned how to play as a team,” he explained. “Everybody who comes there, they are most likely the best player on their AAU team and at their high school. You have to gel together quickly, and you have to become a better team player. So, it’s helped me. And then someone always has to stand out, so I try to stand out and be a leader.”
The 2016 Gatorade Texas State Player of the Year, Fox averaged 32.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.6 blocks per game to help Cypress Lake to a 25-8 record and the Texas 6A Region 3 championship game.
Going from being his team’s go-to man to being a go-through man is something Fox embraces.
“I really enjoy playing with more talent, just because it takes a lot of pressure off you,” he said. “I don’t have to do as much. I can actually play harder in most situations. Rather than in high school when I come off a little bit on defense, because I know I have to score. But playing with the best players, it makes your game a lot easier.”
Though he was disappointed to lose before reaching the state tournament semifinals, Fox did finish his prep career with 3,113 points, which was another personal goal of his.
“I wasn’t happy the way it ended. Of course, I wanted to come out on top, but everybody can’t win their last game. Individually, I played pretty well this whole season.
“One of my goals was to try to reach 3,000 points, and I ended up doing that. To reach the regional championship, this is our first year. We came up short. Didn’t make state, which was the ultimate goal.”
After his high school season, Fox said he took a week off from basketball, and then during spring break shifted his focus to his future as a student athlete at the University of Kentucky.
“I took a whole week off. Then I started during spring break doing two-a-days, trying to get ready for college.
“Physically, I’m just trying to get there. I’m in the weight room almost every day. I’m just trying to add on weight, so I can handle the college level physicality. And other than that, every part of the game – ball handling, quickness, shooting, just trying to become a better all-around player.”
Fox did watch as Kentucky was eliminated from the 2016 NCAA Tournament in the second round.
“They came up short. We didn’t play as well as we should have. Didn’t make a couple of shots, missed some big shots at the end. But, you can’t win every game. At this point, just kind of shifting towards the 2016 class coming in. I think everyone is just getting ready for next year. There is nothing else you can say at this point.”
He will be joined at the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit by his future Wildcat teammate, Wenyen Gabriel (Wilbraham and Monson, Mass./Manchester, N.H.).
“This actually will be my first time playing with Wenyen, so it’ll be fun.”
He also will be joined by three other players from the state of Texas, Jarrett Allen (Saint Stephen’s Episcopal H.S./Austin, Texas), Marques Bolden (DeSoto H.S./Dallas, Texas) and Terrance Ferguson (Advanced Prep International/Dallas, Texas).
“We’ve all been cool, actually for well over five or six years,” Fox said of his fellow Texans. “I think actually knowing people off the court will always make your on-court chemistry better. I feel like we can come together and actually gel pretty quickly.”
Team chemistry will be one challenge the USA will face during its three-day preparation period. Playing by FIBA rules will be another. Three of the USA’s 12 players have won international gold medals and several more have experience with international basketball, but for many, including Fox, the Nike Hoop Summit will be their first international game.
“I know you have to put the ball on the floor before you take up your pivot foot. So, there are usually a lot of travels coming from the USA team,” Fox said. “They play with a 24-second shot clock. That actually helps speed the game up. I’m one of the most athletic players in the country, so I like an up and down game. When the ball touches the rim, you can knock it off. I actually like that rule. It gets us more rebounds and opportunities to score. So, there are a couple of international rules that I actually like.”
The Nike Hoop Summit has been on Fox’s radar as an elite event for a long time, and he remembers watching in 2013, when the World Tem recorded a 112-98 win.
“I watched three years ago, because the past two years, we were actually playing then. I watched when Dante Exum was on the World Team. Just watching the game, you see how well players play together, and you don’t really see any ball hogging, because there is actual coaching out there. It’s not like any other, I guess all-star game.”
I’m just looking forward to it. I’m always trying to find the best thing out there to play against, so it will be extremely fun to play against the top talent from around the world, these guys that most likely we’ve never seen before.”
Don’t miss Fox and his USA teammates in the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit and get your tickets now: bit.ly/NHXtix.