(Portland Oregon) In what was a tight game for three quarters, the World team beat the USA Friday night, 89-76. After being down three points entering the 4th quarter, the World outscored the USA 28-12 to finish the game, behind strong play from Andrew Nembhard, Jaylen Hoard, Charles Bassey, and of course RJ Barrett who scored a game-high 20pts & was named MVP. There was a certain malaise to the USA team, which missed four players (Louis King, Zion Williamson, Keldon Johnson, and Romeo Langford), that did not burn off as the game became more competitive. While Bol Bol had a banner night as a shot blocker (6 blocks) the World team was able to get looks at the basket, thanks to the team’s share-the-ball ethos. Good cuts were rewarded with good passes, as World team wings caught USA defenders ball watching on a number of occasions for back door cuts. World team Coach Roy Rana highlighted Barrett’s unselfishness after the game, explaining that it set the tone for the whole team and its style of play.
The USA’s ball watching, in addition to the aggressive inside presences of Hoard, Bassey, and in short minutes Kofi Cockburn hurt them down the stretch. As Bol slid over to contest shots at the rim, the USA did a poor job of helping the helper, leading to 21 offensive rebounds for the World Team, compared to USA’s 8 offensive boards. Bassey in particular feasted on Bol’s vacated post, with 5 offensive rebounds of his own, on his way to a World team record 16 rebounds. Hoard and Barrett also got in on the action, crashing the glass from the perimeter, pulling down 7 and 2 of their team’s misses respectively. In many ways, this opportunism defined the game for the World team in a game where the talent was fairly equal.
The Canadian cohort played extremely well in the contest, with Barrett leading the World’s high-energy 4th quarter takeover. In the first three minutes, he collected a couple of steals and assisted or scored on all four World team scores, totalling 10 points. That turned a three point deficit into a five point lead, from which the World team never looked back. In the first half, Nembhard connected with Barrett for two crowd pleasing alley-oop dunks, showing off Nembard’s vision and passing ability and Barrett’s cutting and body control. Barrett later returned the favor for his countryman and high school teammate, finding Nembhard with a hit ahead for a bucket. Ignas Brazdeikis also drew “oohs” from the crowd by stepping through a double team on a slashing drive, turning a USA stop into a World basket. In maybe the most impressive play of the game, Nembhard saved an offensive rebound from going out of bounds with a behind the back pass to Hoard for an easy dunk.
Assorted Scouting Highlights from the Canadians
RJ Barrett & Roy Rana
RJ Barrett (Game-high 20pts, 9rebs, 6asts, 5stls, plus-12 in 29mins)
- Barrett definitely turned it on in the game. Had 15 points in the first half before racking up 5 of his 6 assists in the second. His passed out of drives well in this game.
- Took his defensive intensity to another level, especially in the fourth quarter. He reacted to the ball well off-ball with his positioning. He got into passing lanes as well for steals, with one resulting in a powerful breakaway dunk. His spark in the fourth seemed to be a calming presence to the whole team; the execution and energy after that point was excellent.
- Barrett also had a very impressive shot contest on a fastbreak, keeping his body straight up and strong, tracking the ball with his arms and hands, leading to a miss.
- Another thing that stood out defensively is his strong hands. He was able to pick Grimes’ pocket very cleanly before setting up Leandro Balmaro up for a corner three in transition by attracting three defenders.
- Barrett’s strides as a driver stand out a lot. While defenders like Quentin Grimes played with physicality, Barrett was not knocked off of his spot, getting to the rim and finishing on a majority of drives. That speaks to balance, body control, and strength, and well as his ball skills as a finisher.
- Coach Rana had nothing but good things to say about Barrett after the game, with Barrett himself showing composure beyond the years of a teenager who just got his braces off. He mentioned that he, along with his father Rowan, have been planning out these stages of his career, something other people familiar with him echo. The awareness and calculated preparation showed in every setting at Hoop Summit. Barrett used practices to tinker with areas in which he wanted to improve, while saving his body and energy for Friday’s game as he nears the end of an incredibly long high school basketball schedule.
Ignas Brazdeikis (9pts, 4rebs, 3asts, 1stl, plus-7 in 12mins)
- Only played 12 minutes due to the World’s depth on the wing, but was active when he was on the court. He was able to find his shots in the flow of the offense, without hijacking it.
- Like most of the World team, did well finding guys for hit aheads in transition when the opportunity was there.
- Carried his craftiness driving around the rim into the game. Had the step through drive in the first half, then took the ball right into Bol’s body on a drive in the second half for an easy finish. It was probably the easiest looking drive against Bol’s length by the World all game. He also had a nice drive going right against a close out, another example of the ambidexterity he showed in practice. He’s naturally right-handed, but plays basketball and hockey as a lefty. That explains his willingness and ability to finish right, as well as his ability to finish off of either foot.
- Played with some nice pace in limited pick and roll ball handling opportunities. Froze Bazley with a hesitation dribble which preceeded the finish vs. Bol. Even with length and relative athleticism, Bazley is not a polished perimeter defender, but it’s still worth noting when a prospect wins a match up he should succeed. Iggy did that here.
- Brazdeikis was also opportunistic with his off-ball cutting, recognizing when his defender was zoning in on the ball and cutting accordingly. The World team in general was opportunistic, even still Brazdeikis stood out in trying to exploit every little open space and potential scoring opportunity.
- Intellectually, Brazdeikis has a good awareness of his offensive game and where he needs to improve. Apparently has dropped 15 pounds in the last year, which is a testament to how seriously he’s taking the game at this stage. His work on his jump shot also reflects this.
Andrew Nembhard (5pts, 4asts, 1reb, 1stl, game-high plus-18 in 22mins)
- Nembhard played with a ton of energy Friday night, controlling the pace for the World team and getting the team into its offense. But the ball didn’t stick in his hands, he was a willing hit ahead passer in transition, really just seeking advantages for the offense with a good knack for finding them.
- Continued to show a really nice feel for the pick and roll, lowering his hips around the screen, keeping his handle alive while probing the defense, using his body to keep his defender behind him. Really seeks contact in the midrange area on his drives, to the point that he was called for a ticky tacky offensive foul in the first half.
- Four assists definitely underrate his playmaking contribution to the game. Had a couple hockey assists and found advantages on the weak side of the court after attracting attention on the strong side. He tracks his teammates’ off-ball movement really well.
- The World offense stagnated a bit when the USA switched to a 2-3 zone. Nembhard responded by decisively driving down the middle off of a swing pass and drawing a foul and a trip to the line.
- He had a very nice finish on the fastbreak on that hit ahead from Barrett, demonstrating excellent body control and focus on the rim. He was aggressive enough as a scorer to keep the defense honest.
- He worked really hard on defense, never giving up on plays and getting himself back into some plays with his effort. His handling skills seemed to carry over to defense, as he was able snag a loose ball impressively before looking up to find Barrett for one of their two alley-oops.
- Nembhard also has a good grasp of his game intellectually, with an accurate picture of his strengths and weaknesses. He also showed the willingness to work on his weaknesses in practice, and test his progress in scrimmages and Friday’s game.
GAME BOXSCORE: Click HERE
Jaylen Hoard, RJ Barrett & Roy Rana
The World Select Team outrebounded the US 60-42 and tallied 23 assists to the Team USA’s 18 helpers.
With the win, World Team Head Coach Roy Rana improves to 4-4 vs. Team USA.
The all-time Nike Hoop Summit series now stands at 14-7 in the USA’s favour.
Next up for Barrett and Nembhard is the Signature All-Canadian Showcase at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, On on Monday April 23rd, 2018. It will be the last High School game for both players.
Written by Connor Williamson
Photos Courtesy of Nike Hoop Summit
Edited by Drew Ebanks