U.S. looks to reclaim peak at Hoop Summit

Top prospects from around world come to Portland

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers writer

Published:

 

Nike Hoop Summit

When: 4 p.m. today

Where: Moda Center, Portland

Tickets: $10 at door, $25 reserved

On the web:www.nikehoopsummit.com

The last two Nike Hoop Summits haven’t turned out well for the kids in Red, White and Blue.

Every year, prospects from all over the country are gathered to face a team of rising international stars.

“We know how important this is to the coaches,” said USA swingman Theo Pinson who will be attending North Carolina next season.

This year’s version of the game is at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Moda Center.

Current Team USA coach Mike Jones was an assistant in 2012 and the head coach of last year’s team.

“We had a conference call like three weeks ago just to show how serious they are about this game,” Pinson said. “And they flew us out here a day early so we could get some more practice in. We all understand that so we’ll get it right.”

The practices, at least for team USA, have been a little different each time, according to Arizona-bound California Gatorade Male Athlete of The Year Stanley Johnson.

“We’ve had some tough practices. Every setting has been different. We been practicing in the gym with nobody in there and today we practiced in front of the whole NBA,” he said.

Unlike the World Team practice, where NBA scouts and executives can see all of the practices, there was only one USA session where the NBA brass was allowed to watch.

The World team has standouts of their own, such as Kentucky-bound Karl Towns Jr., and players who could very well be 2014 first round draft picks such as Swiss big man Clint Capela or French swingman Damien Inglis.

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, 16, of Ukraine, who was added to the roster this week, has also turned some heads with his three-point shooting in the practices.

The World team is coached by Canadian Junior National Team head coach Roy Rana, who has lead the international squad to victories in the last two hoop summits.

The game is an opportunity to see players basketball fans will hear about next year in college or perhaps the NBA in the coming years.

However, it’s evident that Team USA is keen on taking back the event.

“I think we have a lot of talent this year and I think we can really win the game,” added Johnson. “We want to take advantage of that and get the streak back rolling the USA way.”