Shabazz Muhammad showed that he was clearly the best American prospect in the Class of 2012. Via: Nick Taylor, Ball-N.com.
Here's a look at the top five prospects in the 2012 Nike Hoop Summit, including Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Nerlens Noel, Dario Saric and Kyle Anderson.
After an embarrassment of riches in the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit -- Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Austin Rivers, James Michael McAdoo, Tony Wroten, Bismack Biyombo and Davis Bertans, among others -- the 2012 group was a bit of a letdown.
The World Team wound up springing an upset over Team USA on Saturday night in a game that left talent evaluators with more questions than answers.
Regardless, here's a rundown of the top five prospects from the 2012 Nike Hoop Summit.
5. Kyle Anderson | G/F | 6'8 | 225 pounds | St Anthony H.S., NJ | UCLA
Anderson stood out from a blase group of American guards due to his size, length and the fact that he was used as a point forward for long stretches during scrimmage play and in the showcase. His "Slow-Mo" nickname is well-earned, as his deliberate, confident, careful and crafty style finds him getting to the basket and finishing plays that often leave you wondering how he managed to do it. He's most comfortable with the ball in his hands and has a tendency to pound it a bit as he surveys his options, sometimes to the detriment of the overall offensive flow. Defensively, he's very adept at using his length to pick an attacker's pocket and generates a number of deflections when he's defending off the ball. He finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals and four turnovers on 5-for-13 shooting on Saturday, and he expressed disappointment with that showing. There are legit questions about how his style of play and need for the ball will translate to the pro game; he will probably be best served transitioning into an off-ball, situational offensive player with the smarts and tools to be a very good defender. He faces open questions with both his shot and overall athleticism. A year at UCLA should help crystallize his pro prospects.
4. Dario Saric | F | 6'10 | 223 pounds | Croatia
Saric played in his second consecutive Hoop Summit and was arguably the most dominant World Team player during the week of scrimmages. He is a big, tough, quick, strong face-up player forward who could play either the three or a stretch four at the NBA level. His skill level, particularly with the ball in his hands, appears to be NBA-caliber and he has a natural feel for the game when it comes to spacing and timing. He's the latest in a line of European forwards to possess the classic "all-around" versatility we've come to see over the last two decades. He isn't afraid to mix it up or attack off the dribble at full speed either. Saric finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds and five assists on Saturday. He is 18 and won't be draft-eligible until 2013 at the earliest. Whenever he decides to enter his name, he looks to be a top 15 talent.
3. Nerlens Noel | F/C | 6'11 | 205 pounds | Tilton School, NH | Undecided
Following Saturday's loss, USA coach Kevin Boyle lamented the fact that Noel was only able to participate in one practice during the week due to scheduling issues. The coach felt that perhaps he was not able to integrate Noel into the team's framework to maximize his effectiveness with the limited practice time. Still, Noel impressed by virtue of the fact that he boasts excellent coordination for a player with 6'11 height and a 7'4 wingspan. His presence intimidated opponents from attacking the paint and attempting shots in traffic during a Friday scrimmage and Saturday's exhibition. When he did get his chances to swat shots, he left no doubt, spiking the ball back towards the court on one play and rising high to eliminate a runner on another. His final line of five points, four rebounds and four blocks on Saturday did not reflect his overall impact. Offensively, he showed the ability to finish at and above the rim and a knack for rebounding away from the cylinder. He's skinny and will likely need to play power forward initially at the NBA level. It could be a few seasons before he's a true game-changing defensive force as a pro. Nevertheless, he should be at or near the very top of the 2013 draft board.
2. Shabazz Muhammad | G/F | 6'6 | 215 pounds | Bishop Gorman, NV | Undecided
Muhammad was the class of Team USA throughout the week and Boyle treated him as such during Saturday's exhibition, playing him an astonishing 39 out of a possible 40 minutes during an exhibition game. Boyle probably didn't feel like he had much choice, given that Muhammad single-handedly outscored the rest of his team for much of the game, finishing with an all-time Hoop Summit record 35 points on 12-for-27 shooting. The strength of Muhammad's game is his determination on both ends. He plays hard and under control, attacking defenses relentlessly off the dribble and exploding to the basket and elevating above the rim easily once he's turned the corner. He got to the line 11 times on Saturday, creating contact using up-fakes and lean-in maneuvers that look pro-ready. Muhammad could have shown more in the play-making department although he made the decision to become a one-man offense pretty early in the game with his teammates struggling. He pencils in as a two-guard on the NBA level and should be a top-3 pick in 2013.
1. Andrew Wiggins | F | 6'7 | 195 pounds | Huntington Prep, WV | Canada
Wiggins, a 17-year-old sophomore, was the youngest player at this year's Hoop Summit and he clearly demonstrated two things this week: 1) that he can hang with the best high school players two classes above him and 2) that he has the highest ceiling of any player in this game. Wiggins finished with a team-high 20 points, seven rebounds, one assist, two blocks and one steal on Saturday night, and he dominated his World Team competition throughout the week of practices. During the showcase game he displayed maturity and calm despite matching up with Muhammad for much of the first half. He hit two three-pointers and showed a quick first step, the ability to create his own shot with ease and a soft touch from mid-range. He got to the foul line six times too. Defensively, he showed commitment, good footwork and the length to block shots on closeouts or while helping from the weakside. There's no question, though, that he will make his mark as an elite all-around scorer. That his offensive game is so complete at such a young age is truly scary and he looks to be ideally sized to play small forward in the NBA. The No. 1 spot in the 2015 Draft is his to lose, assuming he doesn't find a way to get to the league more quickly. For a longer look at Wiggins, click here.
Photo credit: Nick Taylor, Ball-N.com.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter