PORTLAND — High school basketball standout Jabari Parker believes that his USA Basketball Junior National Select Team has better athletes than its World Select Team opponents, however the international players earned the better outcome on Saturday night.
The World team defeated the Americans, 112-98 in the 16th annual Nike Hoop Summit. Livio Jean-Charles collected game-high honors with 27 points and 13 rebounds and even outperformed his countryman Nicolas Batum, who participated in the event in 2007.
“(Batum) said I played good,” said Jean-Charles, who held a post-game chat with Batum in French outside of the World team locker room. “He’s happy for me.”
The Nike Hoop Summit, held at the Rose Garden, serves as a forerunner for NBA stardom. When Batum played in 2007 — and led the World with 23 points — every player from the USA team went on to the NBA.
On Saturday, along with Batum, Blazer teammates Damian Lillard, Joel Freeland, Victor Claver and 2010 Nike Hoops Summit alumnus Meyers Leonard attended the event. Also, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and assistant Jay Triano took in the game that featured several future NBA draft picks.
Parker, who will play at Duke next season, led the USA team with 22 points on 10-of-23 shooting. Andrew Harrison — heading to Kentucky with his twin brother Aaron, who also played in the game — finished with 19 points and five assists. Additionally, the 6-foot-9 Julius Randle, another future Kentucky Wildcat, contributed 19 points and eight rebounds.
When asked about matching up with Canadian Andrew Wiggins, the popular choice to become the top pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Parker went out of his way to praise his American mates.
“There are other people in our class that are just as good, that can go neck-to-neck with each other,” Parker said. “It’s not really about rankings. They should just do it alphabetically, because all of us are just as good in different positions.”
Even so, the World won for the third time in five years because it played more cohesive basketball that destroyed USA’s defense. The Americans allowed 38 fourth-quarter points and trailed the international players with nine fewer assists (15 total).
“It was a disappointing outcome, but it’s still an honor to play for your country, and being known as one of the top players in the country,” Andrew Harrison said, “The outcome was disappointing, but we had fun.”