Mike Schmidt was present in Memphis for the practices of both the US and World team in their preparations for the Nike Hoop Summit. Schmidt presents his take on the practices of the World team. Team USA PracticesWorld PracticesAll sessions
The International teams practices contrasted greatly from team USAs, not only because of stylistic differences, but also because of the audience. Because of the new age limit, NBA scouts and cannot attend high school practices anymore. Scouts and executives from nearly every team filed in for the International practices on Thursday, and there were between 40-50 scouts for the one practice they held on Friday. The International team practiced every day from Monday to Friday, so they had more practice time, but they were at a disadvantage considering that all the players were from different counties and pro teams, and nobody had played with anyone before or in some cases even spoke the same language.
The practice would always start with a drill where all the players would full-court scrimmage against each other, but they werent allowed to dribble the ball. This led to some great sequences, as well as some very sloppy plays. The goal of the drill was to not only work on the ball movement, but to allow players to get used to the tendencies of their teammates. During this drill on Friday, the most experienced international prospect in the game, Luigi Datome
of Italy, took a shot to the head, and sat out the rest of practice. Before the injury, Datome was dominating the drill. He made at least 3 long range shots with a very smooth shooting stroke. In addition, Datome grabbed three steals, and displayed impressive leaping ability while dunking on 68 Ji Zhe of China. With the Italian out injured, the focus of the scouts shifted to Mohammed Saer Sene
Mouhamed Saer Sene
appears to be a legit 7 feet tall, and has a very good frame at 230 pounds. He is a great leaper, and played with great intensity, even in the practices. Sene was too intense at times, and injured 3 of his teammates during the Friday practice, twice while he was setting screens. He doesnt shy away from contact, and understands how to fight for position in the post. During the practices, Sene proved how raw he is on the offensive end of the floor. He received the ball in the post on numerous occasions, but has little to work with in terms of footwork, and ended up shooting a hook shot that he rarely gets near the basket. Sene did show limited ability to hit a mid-range jumpshot, however. His form his extremely odd, and he needs to be wide open to make it, but its a good start for a player who has only been playing the game for 2 years. He was definitely the talk of the scouts in attendance.
A surprising player many had never heard of until the practice is Marvell Waithe of Canada. He looked really out of place on the International team, because he plays an American style of basketball. Waithe is 68, and plays both the shooting guard and small forward positions. He is skinny, but very athletic, and has a nice shooting stroke from the perimeter, though he is streaky from the outside. His handles are pretty sloppy at this point, and he doesnt have much of a mid-range game, however. Right now, Waithe is being recruited by some excellent schools in America, including Iowa and Nevada. He has a lot of work to do if he wants to solidify himself as an NBA prospect, but his shooting and athleticism are a nice start. Artur Urazmanov
of Russia was enjoyable to watch during the Hoop Summit practices. He possesses pretty good quickness for a European point guard, and has good court vision as well. Urazmanov did make a lot of questionable passes that led to turnovers, however, and his left hand seemed especially weak. There were two occasions where Artur could have made an easy left-handed layup, but instead decided to switch back to his right hand which caused him to miss. His shooting stroke from the outside is pretty good, but Urazmanov had trouble getting his shot off unless he was wide open. This will probably hurt his NBA potential in the long run until he is able to improve his consistency.
Rafael Hettsheirmeir of Brazil displayed some pretty impressive tools in the post throughout the practices. He has really nice footwork, and good touch around the rim, though he lacks quickness and athleticism. He has a pretty good frame for being such a young player, but must continue to add weight to his frame to make up for his lack of quickness and leaping ability inside. The biggest thing inhibiting Rafaels NBA potential is his height. He has the game of a center, but is listed at 69, and doesnt have the quickness or the faceup game needed from an NBA power forward.
Throughout the practices, the Europeans focused mostly on creating good ball movement in their offense, and working on a few different defensive strategies to stop the American players. They worked on a zone a little bit during one practice, and also put some time in with pick and roll defense. During the time the International team scrimmaged, you could tell that they had potential to give the Americans some problems with their size. Between Sene and Hettsheirmier, they had a nice combination of a center with size that the Americans couldnt match, and a back to the basket power forward who could take a skinny high school power forward down on the block. It was very interesting comparing the styles of the International players to the USA players after seeing them play back to back. An NBA scout asked me who would win before the practice, and after stalling until after the first drill, the Americans were penciled in my notebook.