PORTLAND -- NBA scouts and general managers were out in force this week taking in practices for the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit.
Each year Team USA's Junior Select Team competes against a World Select Team composed of the top young international players in the world. The event serves as a great preview for the incoming freshman class of 2013-14 and as a proving ground for top international talent to come and make their mark.
Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Vladimir Radmanovic, Yi Jianian, Andrea Bargnani, Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka, Omri Casspi, Enes Kanter, Nikola Mirotic, Donatas Motiejunas, Bismack Biyombo and Evan Fournier all parlayed great performances at the summit into first-round or second-round fortunes.
This year, several of the players on the World Select Team roster have a shot of going in the first round. I spent all day Thursday talking to NBA scouts and GMs about this year's international crop -- both those playing in Portland this weekend and in general.
For the first time in several years, scouts are enthused about international prospects. While only one or two prospects have a shot at the lottery this year, as many as seven could go in the first round. Next year, the crop looks even better.
Four of those international prospects are in Portland this weekend, and the following is a preview of what that quartet could showcase. You can watch these draft-eligible players -- Sergey Karasev, Mouhammadou Jaiteh, Dennis Schroeder and Livio Jean-Charles -- at the Hoop Summit at 7 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2.
Sergey Karasev | SG | Russia
While more well-known international players such as Dario Saric and Rudy Gobert are about the future, the 19-year-old Karasev is about now. He's averaging more than 16 PPG in the Russian League and Eurocup. Karasev is just scratching the surface of his abilities and skills.
The lefty always has been known as a heady player who finds a way to get to the basket. He has good ballhandling skills and is an excellent passer. He's worked on his perimeter game to the point that it's now one of his major strengths. Karasev is shooting an impressive 49 percent from 3-point range in Eurocup play, and his shooting stroke has been on full display at the Nike Hoop Summit practices this week.
While it's likely Andrew Wiggins takes over lead-scoring duties for the World Team, Karasev easily could take the reins if he needs to. Other than Wiggins, Karasev is the best pure scorer on the squad and is looking more and more like a lock for the first round.
Dennis Schroeder | PG | Germany
Schroeder has been the star of the World Team in practices this week in Portland. Blessed with elite quickness, speed and a huge Rajon Rondo-esque 6-foot-7 wingspan, he been able to penetrate at will and has shown great improvement in his court vision. He made a number of terrific passes and showed he could stop on a dime, elevate and hit jumpers.
"He's never really played with athletes," one NBA scout said. "You see him figuring it out and throwing lobs and finding guys. He didn't do that in Germany. I'm really impressed with how he looks when surrounded with talent."
If he can duplicate what we've seen in practices against Andrew Harrison, Team USA's lead guard and a projected top-5 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Schroeder will catapult into the first round this year.
Mouhammadou Jaiteh | F/C | France
Jaiteh might have had his biggest draft moment on Monday when he measured 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan. That alone can get you drafted. He has an NBA body, is a good rebounder and is putting up solid numbers (albeit in a second-division French league), but there are plenty of reasons to be concerned.
The take on Jaiteh from the summit practices: He isn't an elite athlete, he plays rather mechanically, and his basketball IQ seems fairly low. In practices he's been outplayed by Kansas recruit Joel Embiid and Kentucky recruit Karl Towns all week.
A strong game against Team USA on Saturday could propel him into the first round, but right now he's on the outside looking in.
Livio Jean-Charles | F | France
Jean-Charles didn't have much buzz heading into the summit, but a number of scouts and GMs have remarked about his play in practices. The French Guyana native doesn't put up big numbers for ASVEL (3.0 PPG, 2.7 RPG in 14 MPG), but his athletic ability and motor have caught scouts' eyes this week. He's a potential second-round pick if he declares for the draft this year.