The Nike Hoop Summit brings together some of the best American and international high school prospects in front of more than 100 NBA front office personnel and scouts. It's not your typical all-star game as each team conducts high level practices in preparation for a one-game showdown.
The World team won in a close affair, 103-101, Saturday in Portland. Here are five observations:
1. Look out for Luke Kennard
Kennard (No. 23 in ESPN 100) always has been highly rated, and this weekend he displayed his scoring and shooting skills against the long and athletic World team. He was extremely efficient (9-for-18) and led Team USA in scoring with 22 points.
The Duke signee is a dead-eye shooter with range and accuracy from the NBA line and inside the arc who understands the importance of creating space for his shot. He moves without the ball by running off screens to free himself. When defended, he utilizes foot fakes and shot fakes to create the space needed to get his shot off. His rotation and backspin after he releases the shot is textbook. He is a good athlete who doesn’t back down from a defensive challenge, although defense is an area that needs quite a bit of work as is the case with most high school seniors with scoring prowess. Duke could have a mass exodus if Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones declare for the NBA draft; Kennard will help the Blue Devils reload.
2. What the NBA is saying about the top of the class
Ben Simmons (No. 1 in ESPN 100) has had a tremendous senior season and won every major individual award, but what gets overlooked is his impact on winning as the team he represents often wins the game. Simmons will be a high lottery pick and could be the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, and he had the NBA personnel in attendance buzzing.
“Simmons has the ability to take advantage of mismatches on the offensive end of the floor with his versatile skill set," one NBA scout said. "Now he is showing us he can score with either hand close to the basket."
ESPN No. 2 Jaylen Brown has all the physical tools to impress, but the scouts want to see more.
He needs a consistent jumper so defenders will close out, allowing him to beat opponents with his straight-line game.
"He is a strong finisher with an excellent second jump. It’s my first time seeing him live. With that body, I would like to see him more on the offensive glass,” said one NBA scout.
Kentucky signee Skal Labissiere (No. 3 in ESPN 100) solidified his ranking by showing a face-up jumper with a high release point that creates a high trajectory for his shot. His shot-blocking presence protects the rim as he made a beautiful block on a switch out with seconds to go in the game and the USA team trying to tie it.
“He reminds me of how Anthony Davis was at the same stage," one NBA general manager said. "Same body type and the same growth spurt, but not as athletic and not quite the shot blocker as Davis but a better shooter.”
3. Thon Maker’s future
Thon Maker -- who was the No. 1 player in our rankings until he moved to play his senior year of high school in Canada -- was active, grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds and showing he still plays with a strong motor. He has put on weight, which is vital for his development, but he struggled to score on the blocks because of his inability to get low and play low against a set defender.
“Thon has to first finish high school and graduate, which should be in August or possibly later, and he could enroll into a college in September or December," Maker's guardian, Ed Smith, said. "Our other option is to stay at Orangeville Prep in a post-grad year and play with his brother Matur.
4. Jamal Murray was impressive
Murray has been on the rise over the last year. On Saturday, he scored a game-high 30 points and handed out five assists. His ability to play both with the ball in his hands or off the ball looking for his scoring opportunities makes him hard to guard with his strong frame.
“The Duke staff left me a text message wanting to talk about Jamal,” World Team head coach Roy Rana said.
Roger Murray, Jamal's dad, said his son is hearing from dozens of schools including Oregon -- where Roger went on a visit before the Hoop Summit -- as well as Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.
“Kentucky has been in contact before but has reached out more so after Saturday's game.” he said.
5. Brandon Ingram’s stock is rising fast
Ingram, who has always had enormous upside, is now producing on a consistent basis. He scores with a soft jumper, although it's streaky, and a drive game with body control. Ingram impressed NBA scouts with his length, athleticism and ability to score and make shots.
“He is long and shoots it over defenders with size, and when you crowd his space, he goes by you with a quick and long first step,” one NBA assistant general manager said.