Some of the world’s top youth basketball players assembled on Saturday for the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit game in Portland, Oregon. After the talented titans clashed, World won a hard-fought game over the United States, 103-101.
The World team demonstrated a long and defensively-strong frontline and scored the first 10 points of the game. The United States squad struggled on the boards intially, but started to pick it up to draw within 7 points after the first quarter, as they were down 25-18. Scoring bursts by Luke Kennard (Duke Blue Devils signee) and Malik Newman kept the United States team close, but the World team finished the first half with a 47-44 lead.
The second half was a give and take close game, with a slim margin nearly throughout. The game showed a competitive streak, especially for what is for all intents and purposes an all-star game. Going into the fourth quarter, World held a 2 point margin, which didn’t change much during the final 10 minutes.
The World pushed their margin to 102-98 with 30 seconds left, and the United States gained the ball. Kentucky Wildcats signee Isaiah Briscoe went to the charity stripe after being fouled on a drive, and converted 1 of 2 free throw attempts. Jamal Murray missed a layin, and Kennard was the recipient of an outlet pass from Briscoe for a dunk to take the United States within one point, 102-101.
The United States put Kentucky signee Skal Labissiere on the line with 12 seconds left, and the skilled big man hit one of two free throws giving the United States a chance to win, down two points. Allonzo Trier, an Arizona Wildcats signee missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, and World picked up the win.
At half-time Canadian combo guard Jamal Murray had 16 points for the World squad and was very clearly their most active and aggressive scoring threat. He kept at it in the second half, and as the most prominent 2016 class player in the game, showed he can get buckets at the highest level. Perhaps most impressively, Murray got his points in scoring from all three levels. In a game of many stars, Murray was unquestionably the top performer, and could be an impact player if he reclassifies to join the ’15 class, as many Canadians have done in recent years. He finished with 30 points and 5 assists.
As mentioned above, Kennard showed his forte during the game, which is long-range shooting and overall touch. Kennard has a pure stroke and is always a threat to connect through the hoop off the catch. Kennard always has to be accounted for by defenders as he can rack up points quickly. He finished with 22 points. Another backcourt player, the aforementioned Briscoe, also had nice moments for the United States, picking up 8 points and dishing 9 assists.
In addition to Murray, the World team was bolstered by the nation’s No. 1 high school recruit, LSU Tigers signee Ben Simmons. He demonstrated his tremendous court vision and all-around game. He posted a near triple-double with 13 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists and wowed with his passing in transition, leading the break at times. For a forward, Simmons has tremendous basketball IQ and can really give his squad options with his savvy. It’s not clear who the best passer to come from a frontcourt player in the high school ranks before Simmons would have been.
During the week of practice, many raved about Labissiere as a potential No. 1 draft pick in the 2016 draft, after a year in Lexington. He did nothing to counter that reputation, picking up 21 points and demonstrating his smooth and diverse offensive game. Few 2015 prospects have the upside he does.
The Hoop Summit is annually one of the most competitive and talented amateur games, and the 2015 game followed that trend. What are sure to be the stars of tomorrow excelled in a tough fought contest.