There might not be a better showcase of 19-and-under basketball talent than the Nike Hoops Summit. The event brings in the best high school players from around the world to compete against each other for a week in Portland, culminating in the World vs. USA game on Saturday.
The game went back-and-forth for most of the afternoon and was decided on the final possession. Arizona recruit Allonzo Trier had a look from the corner to win the game, but it fell short and the World Team won, 105-103.
Here are three things we learned from the game.
Ben Simmons would get drafted in the lottery this year
Simmons became the consensus No. 1 player in the class of 2015 last summer on the grassroots circuit, and he's done nothing in the time since to lose that title. Simmons measured at 6'10 earlier in the week, and though he doesn't have long arms (only a 6'11 wingspan), he looked like the only guy on the floor Saturday who had the size and skill to play in the NBA right now.
Simmons is going to be a dominant college player for what's likely to be his only year at LSU. He has the floor game of a point guard, the speed of a wing and the height of a power forward. He showed it all off with this coast-to-coast dunk in the third quarter:
He also made a beautiful behind-the-back pass to Kentucky recruit Skal Labissiere:
LSU is losing big men Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin to the NBA, but Simmons and Antonio Blakeney should have the Tigers poised for an exciting season. Simmons is going to get all of the hype heading into next season, both in terms of Player of the Year talk and 2016 NBA Draft projections. It was easy to see why watching him on Saturday.
Jamal Murray is the best prospect you haven't heard of
Murray is a 6'4 combo guard from Ontario currently playing out of the high school class of 2016, but there's been plenty of speculation that he could reclassify and play college basketball next season. After watching him drop 30 points against Team USA in Portland, it sure seems like he's ready for the next level:
Murray isn't even in the ESPN top 100 at the moment, but his recent play shows he could be an instant impact guard in college next season, should he decide to make the jump. Oregon and Syracuse are considered to be the two front-runners to land him.
Thon Maker has great potential, but he's not ready yet
Maker become a YouTube sensation for an amazing mixtape that surfaced a year ago. He is a great talent as a 7-footer who can shoot the ball and put it on the floor, but he's still skinny. More than anything, the Hoops Summit showed that is just not ready to contribute quite yet.
Maker had only two points and didn't look comfortable on the floor. It remains up in the air whether he'll play college basketball next season or jump at a chance to go overseas to play professionally, but it's clear he needs more time before reaching the NBA. He's still a tremendous prospect, but it might take a couple years.
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