Nike Hoop Summit Recap

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A quick note: I had the chance to catch up briefly with Kevin Pritchard before the game last night.  I asked him if he had had a chance to read over the interview we recently posted.  He said that he had and that he read every last comment as well: "And, man, were there a lot of them."  

I think it's fair to say you blew him away with your responses.  That's how we roll, right?

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Another quick note: Your fellow BE reader Alex McDougall took hundreds and hundreds of photos at the Hoop Summit last night in his new role as Blazers Edge Director of High School Photography.  Here's a must-see slideshow of his images.  Absolutely outstanding work; a powerful contribution to the site.  Alex put in hours of work this week getting images at the practices and at the game, so please leave your thanks to him in the comments if you get a chance.

Now, on to the recap.

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Congratulations are in order to the World team for making my prediction of a one-sided blowout by Team USA look absolutely foolish.  Overcoming a position-by-position talent gap, the World squad put together a complete team performance --dominating the boards and drawing tons of fouls -- in besting Team USA 97-89, the World team's first victory in the showcase in 8 years.

Most impressive on the World team were Donatas Motiejunas and Milan Macvan.  Donatas's versatility was simply too much to handle; Macvan, the surprise of the Summit for me, worked harder than anyone on the court and finished with a ridiculous line of 23 points and 14 boards.  Both French players, Edwin Jackson and Kevin Seraphin, gave scouts ample reason for interest.

But who am I kidding?  Last night's event was all about gawking at the potential of John Wall, the lithe point guard that I profiled on Friday.  To get an idea for the type of electricity he inspired in the Rose Garden, just check out some of the real-time twitter reactions.

Click through for more John Wall talk, pictures and an excellent highlight video courtesy of Tim Brown.

-- Ben (benjamin.golliver@gmail.com)

While his teammates, Avery Bradley and Xavier Henry, carried the scoring load, Wall captured imaginations: crossovers, finishes at the rim, no-look passes, behind-the-back passes, left-handed dunks on the break, 2 hand dunks over people, spin moves, lockdown 1 on 1 defense, catapults on the rim that ended with him swinging around the basket to avoid landing on someone in such a way that his feet were above his head, Rudy-like crashes to the floor after jumping all the way over people, blocked shots, 5 steals, and on and on and on.  

He didn't play a perfect game. He clearly has trust issues with his jump shot.  He also had some trouble maintaining his defensive focus late in the shot clock when the ball was on the weakside.  And there were a few turnovers.  I say these things not to nitpick but so that I can continue gushing about him for another 500 words without feeling guilty.

I spent about 6 hours yesterday giggling in awe.  His leaping ability and fearlessness in the air are unmatched for a player his size.  His excitement in moving his feet on defense is so rare to see from someone his age.  His ability to change speeds - to go from 0 to 60, or 60 to 70 to 80 to 90, or from 90 to 0, or from 0 to 90 -- is as effortless as one can imagine.  His abilities to make the easy pass look easy and the difficult pass look easy combine the best of old school and new school point guards.

Wall's performance caused my press row partner in crime, Bethlehem Shoals, to compare him to virtually every major NBA player from the last 15 years in one paragraph ...

It is almost impossible to explain how awesome John Wall is. He's like a more athletic, less selfish, Derrick Rose. Like LeBron if he hadn't been made in space and was crossed with Chris Paul. Like that column someone wrote during Wade's championship about how no one saw Jordan coming, either, and the Messiah is supposed to be unexpected and organic. I have absolutely no idea how someone can be both so freakishly dominant and yet so comfortable staying within an offense. Did I mention he has at least five "extra gears," like a series of increasingly explosive first steps that happen within mere feet of each other? When asked about a fall he took that would've made Wade or Gerald Wallace proud, insisted it had to be that way because "you never know which game might be your last." He also has the uncanny ability to cock his entire body in mid-air for a block, only to abruptly staunch all his momentum and float back down to earth if the angle's not there. I have never been more impressed by a high school player. 

It's John Wall's world, we are all just living in it.

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Here's an outstanding highlight video with game action and postgame interviews from Tim Brown of Oregonlive.com.

Nike Hoop Summit: World Team upsets USA, 97-89


Have no fear... I will return to our regularly-scheduled All Blazers all the time programming tomorrow morning.

-- Ben (benjamin.golliver@gmail.com)

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