Hoop Summit: Team USA is loaded with top-end talent
Portland, Ore. – The Hoop Summit is an all-star experience unlike any other for the top prospects in attendance. This is USA Basketball going against a World team and the result matters to those in Portland. The USA went through two tough practices on Wednesday and there was much to see. Even though he can’t play because of a knee injury, Duke bound five-star Harry Giles was making his presence felt.
GILES MAXIMIZING HIS EXPERIENCE
His senior year didn’t go the way 2016’s No. 2 player Harry Giles expected it to. The Duke-bound power forward suffered a knee injury in his first game at Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill that cost him his senior season and a chance to hit the all-star circuit.
USA Basketball, though, wanted Giles on hand. It’s easy to see why because even though he can’t play, his attitude is an asset to the team.
“It’s very important,” said Giles of doing anything he can to help. “I’ve won three gold medals with these guys and I feel like with my experience I can help lead them to a win.
“For them to still invite me is an honor. I’m thankful.”
If there is a silver lining to be found in Giles' injury it’s that he’s been able to rehab with Duke's doctors. He says that it’s made a big difference.
“It’s huge. The doctors, the trainers, they work with high-level athletes. They understand what to do with a player like me.”
Giles doesn’t have a specific timetable for his return, but he feels pretty confident that he can be ready by the time practice starts in October. He knows that expectations will be high in Durham next season and he’s embracing it.
“Everybody wants a national championship," he said. "You have to start from day one in summer workouts. You can’t go off the hype; we have to put in the work for it.”
MY STARTING FIVE
The No. 1 player in the senior class, Josh Jackson, won’t arrive until Thursday night because of school obligations and Giles is out. Even with those guys out, the level of talent that the USA has assembled is quite impressive. Based strictly off of Wednesday’s two practice sessions, this is who I would have in my starting five.
At the point, I would use Washington-bound Markelle Fultz. He moves the ball really well and he doesn’t over dribble. His length allows him to be disruptive defensively and he can score. Kentucky-bound De'Aaron Fox is a potential difference maker defensively, though.
At the two I would go with Duke-bound Frank Jackson and I’d put Duke-bound Jayson Tatum alongside him as the three-man. Jackson is a glue guy who can score and his decision-making is impressive. Tatum is a big scorer who can help board from the wing.
At the four, Jonathan Isaac is an easy choice while I will give a slight nod to Jarret Allen over Marques Bolden at center. Isaac was probably the story of day one. He’s a truly smooth scorer with near 6-foot-10 size and a dangerous jumper. The Florida State-bound star looked like a potential top-five player in 2016 on Wednesday.
Allen, who hasn’t yet put a timetable on his still-open recruitment, used his quickness and ability to run the floor to protect the rim and make opportunistic scores.
BOLDEN REMAINS IN HOLDING PATTERN
There aren’t many elite big man prospects left undecided in the class of 2016, but five-star center Marques Bolden is one of them. For now, the 6-foot-10 center from DeSoto (Texas) High remains in a holding pattern when it comes to his recruitment.
Bolden is most likely down to Duke and Kentucky, and he should be deciding relatively soon. But, he said on Wednesday that he hasn’t decided on exactly how soon that will be. There had been some rumblings he could perhaps commit at next week’s Jordan Brand Classic, but Bolden said he doesn’t currently have anything planned for when and where he will announce.
The addition of unsigned power forward Kostas Atentokounmpo to the World Team is one that was nice to see. He measured in at just under 6-foot-10 and is a smooth athlete with a developing jumper. He’s raw overall, but his potential is up there. He’s kind of similar to Otto Porter at the same age. He’s not quite as skilled or polished as Porter was, but he is more athletic.
South Florida’s backcourt play should be on the upswing next year. As a freshman Jahmal McMurray was dynamic for the Bulls and he’s getting a nice running mate in Andres Feliz. Playing for the World Team, Feliz looks physically ready for college and he is very quick.
Finally, DeAndre Ayton continues to develop as a jump shooter and is dangerous in pick-and-pop situations. The No. 1 player in 2017 measured 6-foot-11¾ and 243 pounds with a 7-5½ wingspan. A guy that big who can do that is dangerous. When he wanted, Ayton got every single rebound.