USA Collects 102-80 Victory in 2022 Nike Hoop Summit
After a two-year layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nike Hoop Summit returned to Moda Center Friday night for its 23rd edition, and the United States picked up right where it left off.
Boasting a 12-player roster of the country’s top high school seniors ranked from No. 1 to No. 29 on the ESPN 100, the U.S. came away with a 102–80 victory over the World Select Team. The balanced win included five players scoring in double figures, including local favorite Kel’el Ware, who will play his college ball at the University of Oregon. Ware got a nice round of applause from the crowd during introductions.
“They made me happy,” Ware said. “I’m pretty grateful to come to Eugene, because even them just outside it was just a little bit of the fans, so I know once I enter the (Oregon) arena I know it’s going to be way more. To be able to play for them, play for Oregon, is going to be awesome.”
Ware showed his full offensive repertoire, hitting a 3 and catching alley-oops. In 18 minutes, he finished with 11 points and five rebounds.
The World Select Team jumped out to a quick start, outscoring the USA 8-3 in the opening minutes.
“We really struggled defensively in the first quarter — I was looking at some guys’ eyes — we really could have gone the other direction,” said USA coach Joe Mantegna. “We were really struggling early, and they redoubled their efforts. They stayed connected and it was a really good defensive second half for us.”
The second unit came in and provided a spark for the USA. The Americans managed to cut the early deficit to three as the World Team led the USA 26-23 after the first quarter.
The USA finally caught up and took the lead, which it never relinquished, 35-34 in the second quarter. The second unit brought out the defensive intensity. Kyle Filipowski, committed to Duke, was a menace on the boards, grabbing six rebounds with four offensive rebounds in the first half.
Villanova commit Cam Whitmore came in during the second quarter and provided an instant spark, scoring 11 points to give the USA a nice cushion. In just 15 minutes, Whitmore practically could not miss. He finished seven-of-eight from the field including two-of-three from the perimeter for a team-high 19 points.
The USA led 51-45 at halftime, and it was fairly close until midway through the third quarter, when the Americans started to gradually pull away. The communication and synergy locked in defensively, and they started to outplay the World Team. The deeper roster and talent of the USA eventually won out.
“We always said we have more depth than the World Team,” Mantegna said. “We have more athleticism. We thought if we stayed the course, and stay with our coverages, and pressure the ball, and (keep) playing with pace, that sooner or later they would wear down and we would a run, and that’s what happened.”
The USA roster featured plenty of length with Keyonte George (committed to Baylor), Nick Smith Jr. (Arkansas) and Amari Bailey (UCLA) coming at 6-foot-4 as the smallest players on the team. Anthony Black (Arkansas) was the fourth point guard on the roster, and the coaching staff got creative, starting Black in place of Bailey at the start of the second half, in hopes to get everyone some playing time on the court.
The game was a bit closer than the final score indicated as the USA didn’t pull away until late, outscoring the World Team 28–16 in the final frame. The USA shot 52% from the field and 11-for-21 from downtown. In comparison, the World Team shot 39% from the field and just 26% from 3.
After the game, Mantegna and the team had a meeting in the locker room and praised their accountability and gumption to compete at such a high level.
“I just told these guys in the locker room today, I thought all 12 of them conducted themselves in a manner that USA Basketball will be proud to have back in the future. And I think it’s really tough for these guys, they’re coming off the McDonald’s (All-American) Game, some of them were coming off GEICO (Nationals).
“They’re tired, some of these guys haven’t been home for a couple of weeks, and to commit themselves to three and four more days of two-a-day practices, and to compete together, and be connected the way they were. There was nobody out there playing for themselves. These guys did a great job representing our country today.”
USA Basketball improved to 16-7 all-time at the Nike Hoop Summit, first held in 1995.
Sam Yip is a freelance contributor to USAB.com on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.