Basketball Stars of the Very Near Future on Display at Nike Hoop Summit
Mere days after one of the Nike Hoop Summit’s most accomplished alums, future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki — who dropped 33 points and 14 rebounds at the 1998 game — hung up his sneakers for good, the 2019 edition of the Nike Hoop Summit tips off for the 22nd time in Portland, Oregon.
The Nike Hoop Summit showcases elite high school senior boys in the country going up against top international players who are 19 years old or younger. Since the inaugural event was held in 1995 in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Nike Hoop Summit has been held every year save for 2001-2003. Formerly rotated among American cities, the game has been contested in Charlotte, North Carolina; Lake Buena Vista, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; Tampa, Florida; Indianapolis, Indiana and Memphis, Tennessee, before finding a permanent home in Portland from 2008 onward.
So far, 12 alumni from the tournament have gone on to become the first overall pick in the NBA Draft, with 76 players being picked within the first 10 selections. Notable alumni include Kevin Garnett, Anthony Davis, R.J. Barrett and Karl-Anthony Towns, just to name a few.
A total of 217 total draft picks —149 from USA Basketball and 68 from the world teams — have accumulated throughout the history of this storied event. The 2011 and 2012 NBA drafts each produced a record 15 alumni from the Nike Hoop Summit.
USA Basketball leads the all-time series at 14-7, after the World Select Team won last year to make it 3-3 the past six years.
The No. 1 through 4 prospects atop the 2019 ESPN 100 headline the USA Basketball roster: James Wiseman (East H.S./Memphis, Tenn.), who has committed to play at the University of Memphis; Cole Anthony (Oak Hill Academy, Va./New York, N.Y.), who is uncommitted; Vernon Carey Jr. (University School/Southwest Ranches, Fla.), who has committed to play at Duke University; and Isaiah Stewart (La Lumiere School, Ind./Rochester, N.Y.) who is headed to the University of Washington), respectively.
Anthony has been excited throughout the process leading up to competition against the World Select Team.
“I think it’s been an awesome experience,” Anthony said. “Being able to just come out here, and really just get better. We all have a common goal which is to beat the world team, so I’m really happy we’ve been able to come out here and work.”
Since the Americans only managed to practice two days prior to the game, a key detail that U.S. head coach Scott Fitch continued to harp on throughout the practices was communication from the guys on the court.
“Coach Fitch taught me to be more communicative on both ends of the floor,” Wiseman continued. “Making sure I trust in my teammates, making sure wherever I go, there’s no excuses. I have to go out there and play hard no matter what, and really just go out there and play my game.”
Josh Green (Australia) and Nico Mannion (Italy) are the most well-known of the World Select Team roster to American basketball observers, since Green played his senior year at IMG Academy in Florida and Mannion was at Pinnacle High School in Arizona. Both have committed to play at the University of Arizona for the upcoming 2019-2020 season.
Compared with the USA team — which only started practicing Wednesday — the world team has been practicing since Sunday. Mannion summarized a bit of how their process of preparation has come about leading up to the game on Friday.
“We’ve been in the gym twice a day, every day, taking care of my body, hot tub, ice tub,” he said. “We have a really good group, communicating on the floor. We’ve had good practices, we don’t have long practices, but always talking, always about tempo. Everybody’s always focused, so we’ve just been really engaged these past couple of days, because we want to get ready for this game.”
Additionally, Mannion sees a slight advantage with his team, and it has nothing to do with the surplus of practice time the world team has on the USA players.
“We got some shooters,” he said. “I think we shoot the ball a little better. I’d say it’s pretty even all around. USA is a good team.”
World head coach Roy Rana certainly hopes Mannion is right.
“I hope so,” coach Rana says. “We can certainly shoot them, but we gotta make them.”
The 2019 Nike Hoop Summit will be shown at 10 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 12, live from the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, on ESPN2.