The 21st Nike Hoop Summit 2018 in Portland, Ore., featuring a U.S. vs. World format. U.S. players include three Duke commits (Cameron Reddish, Tre Jones and Zion Williamson) and two future Oregon Ducks (Bol Bol, Louis King) and Vandy-bound Darius Garland.
Nike Hoop Summit much more than a ‘showoff fest’ as both sides focus on winning. On Sunday, LSU basketball commit Emmitt Williams flushed in 44 points on 22-of-23 shooting in the Jordan Brand Classic in Brooklyn, New York.
Don’t expect to see such video game numbers Friday at the Nike Hoop Summit.
“Emmitt had 44, that was crazy,” said Duke commit R.J. Barrett, the No. 1 recruit in the country.
Events like the Jordan Brand Classic and the McDonald’s All-American Game, much like the NBA All-Star Game, are light on defense and generate showy highlight reels. But Friday’s matchup between several of the top prep players in the world is not taken lightly.
“McDonald’s is more like an all-star game to showcase your ability. This is more of a serious game: the World trying to beat the USA,” said Barrett, a member of the World Team.
“Watching the Jordan Brand game and the McDonald’s game … they were amazing games, but obviously there was no defense being played,” Michigan commit and World Team member Ignas Brazdeikis said. “This game’s gonna be totally different. Everyone’s gonna be locked in defensively and really going for the win.”
The game takes place Friday at 7 p.m. at the Moda Center. All week long, the World Team and the U.S. Team have been diligently preparing for the contest.
During their multiple workouts each day, players at the Nike Hoop Summit are not just showcasing their ability for the 150 NBA scouts who were credentialed for the weekend. They’re orchestrating plays and installing defenses.
“We’re taking plays more seriously, defensive concepts more seriously,” said Florida commit Andrew Nembhard, a member of the World Team. “And playing more together. Over (at the Jordan Brand), it was more one-on-one, ball screens, playing freely.”
Said Brazdeikis: “Coach Roy (Rana) always emphasizes to us that this is not just an all-star game. This is a serious international event and every single second of it is going to be taken seriously.”
Each of the past eight No. 1 overall NBA Draft picks participated in the Nike Hoop Summit and, over the past decade, an average of 10 Nike Hoop Summit alumni have been taken in the first round. So, the talent level is high. But so is the quality of the game.
“This event is definitely much more, I wouldn’t say competitive, I would say it means more in the winning standpoint,” said Duke commit Tre Jones, a member of the U.S. Team. “A lot of people see it as the future of the NBA and the basketball world.”
Many of the game’s participants know members of the opposing team from other tournaments or showcases; that creates a bit of a rivalrous tone. Neither team seems shy of confidence.
I think with the talent that we have and the intensity that we play with, I think we have a really good shot,” said U.S. point guard Darius Garland, a Vanderbilt commit.
Charles Massey, a member of the World Team and one of the top recruits in the Class of 2019, was a little more blunt.
“We’re going to win. We’ve got a better team. We’re going to win this year,” Massey said.
Of the top nine players in ESPN’s rankings of the Class of 2018, eight are participating in the Nike Hoop Summit, although as many as three (Zion Williamson, Romeo Langford and Keldon Johnson) might be out with injury.