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Nike Hoop Summit changes perspectives for world players

REGENSBURG (David Hein’s Eye on the Future) – The perspectives of 10 young international basketball players will change greatly very soon as the World Select Team roster for the 2012 Nike Hoop Summit is expected to be released this week.

And the future of those top talents will shine a bit brighter just by virtue of having been named to the roster. For the Nike Hoop Summit - taking place on April 7 at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon - offers international players a chance to change their fortunes forever.

If ever a showcase event can change a player’s future, then it is this annual highlight, which started in 1995 and pits the best 10 American U19 players against 10 of the best U19 players the rest of the world has to offer.

You don’t think one game can have that big of an impact? Just look at Bismack Biyombo. The über-athletic big man from the Democratic Republic of Congo went from a scout's secret playing for Fuenlabrada in the Spanish ACB to a high-rising sensation at last spring’s Summit.

First, he wowed NBA scouts and executives by measuring a 7-foot-7 wingspan despite standing just 6-foot-7 ¾ without shoes. Then Biyombo dazzled those same observers by registering the first triple-double in the Summit’s history with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks.

It was all the more impressive that Biyombo was able to dominate against the likes of future NBA lottery picks such as Anthony Davis, James McAdoo and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – the latter two members of the USA's gold medal-winning team at the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship.

And it's safe to say that Biyombo's showing played a huge part in landing him a spot in the 2011 NBA Draft lottery – he was selected with the 7th overall pick by the Charlotte Bobcats.

Running down the list of past international participants, it’s hard not to spot some of the game’s biggest and brightest stars. Among them are Dirk Nowitzki (1998), Tony Parker (2000), Luis Scola (1996), Nicolas Batum (2007), Patrick Mills (2006), Yi Jianlian (2004), Wang Zhizhi (1996), Serge Ibaka (2008), Omri Casspi (2007), Andrea Bargnani (2004), Alexis Ajinca (2007, 2008), Bostjan Nachbar (1999, 2000) and Enes Kanter (2010).

A couple of the more recent European players at the Summit are still starring on the old continent but could make their presence felt in the NBA soon, including Donatas Motiejunas (2009) and Nikola Mirotic (2010).

And because of that past pedigree, the stature of the game has grown year after year – though NBA scouts and executives have recognised it as a great chance to see foreign talent since its inception.

“I didn't know how big this game was going to be,” Nowitzki said a few years back. The German star scored a then record 33 points and had 14 rebounds at the 1998 Nike Hoop Summit.

“I had played the Euros (European championship) with my under-16 national team and there were a couple of colleges there. This game was broadcast live on ESPN2 — there were hundreds of scouts there. Without that game, my transition to the NBA wouldn't have been as easy.”

Another future NBA star to shine at the Summit was Batum, who scored 23 points in the 2007 game. And the Portland Trailblazers ace said the event provides a big chance for the international players.

“This experience is big for us because you can make a name in the U.S.,” he said last April.

“You play against the best Americans players so you can show your skills against those guys. That’s what makes this game so special. You can play good in Europe and people can see you there, but if you have a good game against those guys it means you can in the U.S. and the NBA. So it’s a good game for us.”

Batum for his part actually decided against declaring himself eligible for the 2007 draft because he didn’t feel he was ready for the NBA and then was picked 25th in the 2008 draft.

One player from last year’s world team who has a strong chance of making this year’s team as well is Croatian point forward Dario Saric, who also played at last summer’s FIBA U19 World Championship and turns 18 one day after this year’s Summit.

Saric, considered one of Europe’s biggest talents, helped KK Zagreb to the 2011 Nike International Junior Tournament title as MVP – with a triple-double in the final – and has his team back into this May’s NIJT finals.

He would be the eighth player making an encore showing at the Nike Hoop Summit, following Jovo Stanojevic (1995, 1996) Yugoslavia; Aleksandr Bashminov (1996, 1997) Russia; Matthew Nielsen (1997, 1998) Australia; Antonis Fotsis (1998, 1999), Greece; Olumide Oyedeji (1999, 2000) Nigeria; Nachbar (1999, 2000) Slovenia; Ajinca (2008, 2007).

Regardless who plays for the World Select Team, those 10 players will have a different perspective and chance – just by being connected to this game.

David Hein


FIBA’s columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

FIBA takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.

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