Nike Hoop Summit, International Prospects

Nike Hoop Summit, International Prospects
Apr 15, 2009, 12:54 am
A in-depth look at all of the 10 international prospects that participated in the Nike Hoop Summit, and their outlook as NBA draft prospects.

Milan Macvan, 23 points, 14 rebounds (9 offensive), 6 assists, 1 block

The most consistently impressive play from the international squad came from Serbian power forward Milan Macvan, who we wrote about in detail during the week. At first glance, the big man doesn't look like he has the physical tools to play in the NBA, standing somewhere around 6'9" with a big body sporting plenty of baby fat, and unimpressive athleticism. On the court, he makes up for this with his solid wingspan, an incredible basketball IQ, and the fact that he's just stronger and thicker than anybody else on the court. From early in the game, Macvan displayed his impressive instincts on the offensive glass, and the ability to take up a great deal of space and time the rebound perfectly.

Offensively, he showed his impressive ability to set huge screens early in the game. The big screens from Macvan created a great deal of space for his guards to penetrate, and he was open rolling to the basket as a result nearly every time. Though not the best athlete, the big man can finish inside due to good timing and the intelligent use of his dribbles to keep the defense on their heels. In addition, he showed the ability to play in the high post, passing the ball very effectively from the perimeter a number of times. His 6 assists were the second most in the entire game behind John Wall, and his crafty passing included a nice assist from the post when he was doubled, and even a long range tip/outlet pass immediately after a defensive rebound.

In the low post, Macvan relies on his nice touch and ability to back down any player that he goes against. He shoots a very nice turnaround jumper spinning to either shoulder, and also has a running hook he can use coming across the lane. In the NBA, he won't be able to use his post game too often, as he plays so far below the rim, and his shot was blocked twice from the post in the game. The ability to play outside and shoot the ball will allow his post game to be effective, however. His ball-skills were quite impressive for a man his size. The Serbian big attacked the basket twice off the dribble, and even aided the guards in getting the ball up the court.

Defensively, the big man plays very tough low-post defense, showing no reservations about getting physical with the opposing players. His lateral quickness will probably hurt him when it comes to guarding most power-forwards, but he does show a good fundamental understanding of defensive rotations. It also helps knowing that if there's a missed shot by the opposing team, Macvan is going to be right there to fight for the rebound.

Milan Macvan is the type of player who will be debated by front office personnel for some time. Based on his performance in this setting, and his success at the international level at a young age, it appears that he has the necessary tools to play in the NBA, despite his lack of size and explosiveness. Macvan's strength, feel for the game, and ability to play inside and out are rare for a prospect of his age, and will allow him to have some type of role with an NBA team in the future. With three years left on his contract with Hemofarm, Macvan says he has a buyout after next year, and would like one more year of European experience before declaring for the draft.

Donatas Motiejunas, 21 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 5/15 FG, 10/14 FTs

The most intriguing international prospect in attendance, Donatas Motiejunas managed to string together quite an impressive performance, despite playing out of position. With Aisciai Kaunas in Lithuania, the talented lefty plays exclusively at the 4/5 spots. With the lack of a true three on the roster, the World Select Team had to take advantage of his ball-skills and perimeter shooting ability, placing him out of position for most of the game. You could tell this frustrated Motiejunas early in the game, as his teammates weren't getting him the ball in the proper position. Starting late in the first quarter, the Lithuanian started to gain more comfort, overcoming his frustration to contribute nicely in the victory.

Though not the toughest player, the Lithuanian did show some nice fight in the Hoop Summit, first gathering an offensive rebound and finishing the play with a no-look pass to Tomislav Zubcic down low. The next time down, the big man took his defender to the basket off the dribble, and kicked to the wide open shooter on the weak-side. Motiejunas finished the game with 5 offensive rebounds, taking advantage of his length and agility while at the same time outworking the front line of Team USA.

Motiejunas can be described as a complete player offensively, showing the ability to play inside and out. When he received the ball in the post, he showed a very nice set of moves and fakes, and his touch can be described as quite impressive as well. His go-to move appears to be a lefty hook off a quick spin, but he can also finish with his right hand inside with great touch. Early in the game when he struggled to score, Motiejunas still managed to make a couple of very nice passes on the drive, and show very polished ball-handling skills for a 7-footer as well. The range on his jumper extends to the NBA 3-point line, and he possesses solid body control and athleticism on the dribble-drive.

Defensively, Motiejunas still needs to become a tougher player, particularly if he wants to guard post players at the NBA level. He has a solid frame, but he must continue to get stronger and focus on learning the proper leverage to keep stronger players from backing him down so easily. A greater effort from him coming on weak-side rotations would go a long way as well. The big man seems to understand how to get to the spot, but doesn't show the greatest effort in contesting shots.

Free throw shooting is another area where he could seemingly improve. He made 10 of his 14 attempts in this game, but seemed to struggle in the practices at times from the free throw line as well. On the drive, he really favors his left hand, despite his ability to score with his right hand from the post.

After his solid showing here, Donatas Motiejunas will return to Lithuania to finish out his season and decide if he wants to test the waters in this year's NBA draft. A very skilled offensive player who is already productive in his home country, he could find himself benefiting from the lack of bigs and international prospects in the 2009 NBA draft. On the other hand, another year in Europe against stronger competition could really help his long-term development, especially once he manages to improve his body. Regardless, Motiejunas seems to be a very talented prospect with a bright NBA future. A free agent after this season, he has the flexibility to find a higher level club or come right to the NBA if he wishes to do so.

Tomislav Zubcic, 17 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 8/9 FTs

Throughout the week in practice, Tomislav Zubcic displayed extremely impressive tools for a player his size, but at the same time, seemed to struggle with both his role on the team and a lack of mental toughness. To our surprise, he overcame both issues Saturday night on his way to a very impressive showing in the game. The Croatian forward's strong performance certainly helped his draft stock, as he was a big key to the World Team's victory, particularly in the fourth quarter.

With the skills of a small forward, Zubcic has the size and athleticism to become a match-up nightmare at the power forward position. He remains somewhat skinny at this point, but has really improved his upper-body strength over the past year. He looked to be a soft player in the practices, but had no trouble fighting for an offensive rebound on his first possession in the game, and taking a hard hit to get to the free throw line. Zubcic followed this up by create a nice look for Kevin Seraphin after handling the ball on a pick and roll, and came down the court a few possessions later showing off his smooth stroke from the three point line. Later in the game, the forward showed very nice agility and ball-handling skills attacking the basket off the dribble, especially late in the game where he finished a drive while taking a hard hit on the head from Renardo Sidney.

On the glass, Zubcic lacks great fundamentals and must become better at using his body to create position. His defense must improve as well, though he does show good anticipation off the ball, and had a couple of impressive blocks during the game. If he continues to get stronger in his lower body, the Croatian big has a chance to become an asset on the defensive end of the floor.

Surprisingly, a number of scouts we talked to indicated that Zubcic has somewhat of a selfish reputation overseas, and might not play as effectively if he doesn't get an adequate number of touches on offense. We definitely saw signs of this during the practices, and Coach Beveridge got on his case about it early in the week. It worked out for the best, however, because it allowed Zubcic to find his role on the team, and he became a key cog for the first international victory since 1998.

Tomislav Zubcic possesses an incredible package of offensive tools and an impressive feel for the game for a player his size. Combined with his impressive athletic profile, he certainly helped his stock with a strong performance here. To make things more interesting, Zubcic does not have either a contract or an agent at this point in time. After the game, a group of agents were virtually tripping over each other on their way to introduce themselves. He says he plans on hiring an agent soon, and at this point would like to play one more season in Europe before declaring for the draft.

Kevin Seraphin, 8 points, 9 rebounds, 4 blocks, 5/9 FG

A very interesting prospect considering his size and physical tools, Kevin Seraphin really had a chance to help his stock as a prospect in this game. Playing for Cholet in France, he has only had a few solid games since being promoted from their junior team, and it was a nice chance to showcase himself in front of the 65+ scouts in attendance. Though still a raw player, Seraphin managed to impress with his clutch play late in the game.

Physically, it's easy to notice Seraphin's strong, powerful body. Though a raw basketball talent, he has a great natural frame which he has managed to add a great deal of strength to in his couple of years playing basketball. The French prospect shows an explosive vertical leap and the ability to run the court like a guard. Combined with his 7'3" wingspan, he has nearly every tool you look for in a developing big.

Throughout the game, Seraphin displayed an excellent motor, fighting for every loose ball, making an effort to block every shot in his territory, and setting big, bruising screens on the offensive end of the floor. The big man has very impressive instincts when it comes to rebounding, particularly on the offensive end of the floor. His hustle was apparent late in the game, when he provided the World Select team with their first lead of the game on a dunk off a basket cut, and a jaw-dropping block on a John Wall lay-up on the other end of the floor. Coming back down on offense, he helped seal the victory with another dunk in transition, and a key offensive rebound off a missed free throw.

Offensively, Seraphin constantly fights hard for position, and always looks for the ball early in the post. On one possession, he ran the court and sealed off his man impressively, gaining the perfect position for a rare early post lay-up (something which NBA coaches love to see). He lacks the skill-level needed to finish around the basket unless it's an easy lay-up or dunk, however, and the form on his jumper can be described as quite awkward.

As a big man prospect with all the physical tools but developing skills, Kevin Seraphin appears to be the type of big that an NBA team would draft to stash overseas and monitor his development for a couple seasons. His agent Bouna N'Diaye seemed to indicate they would explore entering his name in the draft this season, and he seemed to like the idea of Seraphin taking a similar route to one of his other clients, Ian Mahinmi. With the economy's current effect on the NBA and many teams in cost-cutting mode, it would certainly make sense to see a team go that route with him. Seraphin helped his stock with his performance here, first and foremost just by being seen and getting his name out, and it will be interesting to see if he decides to stay in the 2009 draft.

Matias Nocedal, 3 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds

Though he didn't play many minutes, Matias Nocedal displayed impressive tools as a point guard during his 13 minutes of play. Physically, the guard displayed impressive quickness and solid all-around athleticism, as well as a tight handle. The Argentinean has a nice feel for the game as well, displaying the ability to create for others on the pick and roll, as well as the vision to find the open shooting with the draw and kick.

As a scorer, Nocedal has somewhat unorthodox mechanics on his jumper, but shoots it with a very quick release and impressive accuracy. With the ball in his hands, he plays with a certain Argentinean flare, especially with the very flashy passes he shows the capability of making. Despite his quickness and physical tools, we really didn't see him finishing anything at the rim at all this week, and it would be nice to see him develop some type of mid-range game as well.

It will be quite interesting to watch Nocedal progress as a player with Tau Ceramica in Spain. It's tough to say how much of a prospect he is for the NBA at this point, as it seems way too early to draw any type of definitive conclusions. If he really continues to develop as a scorer and mature with his ability to run a team, he could turn into a very nice prospect down the road.

Nikos Pappas, 10 points, 3 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers, 4/6 FG

Already a fixture on Greece's junior national team, Pappas entered this week with a great deal of international experience under his belt. A point guard with good size at 6'4", Pappas had an impressive showing in Portland, particularly with his ability to handle the pressure of the Team USA guards, despite his less than ideal physical tools.

In the half-court, Pappas appears to be a crafty scorer, with the ability to shoot the three pointer, or create a floater from mid-range. The most impressive shot Pappas hit in the game was a clutch floater off his opposite foot with the shot-clock running down. The Greek guard can create quite effectively for others, too. At times it appeared he would pick up his dribble too early or dribble into a bad spot, but he would always find the open man after a fake or a spin to get the defense back on their heels.

Despite his size, solid scoring ability, and the ability to create as a floor general, Pappas doesn't appear to have the prototypical physical tools of an NBA guard. He shows average quickness off the dribble, and doesn't appear to have any type of explosiveness in the paint. The guard also lacks the lateral quickness to be an effective defensive player, though he seems to be very solid fundamentally in most areas. He appears to be the type of guard that could get drafted and stashed overseas, but his value to the European market will probably always exceed the value he can bring to an NBA team.

Edwin Jackson, 5 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 turnovers, 2/7 FG

A combo-guard with good physical attributes, Jackson was unlucky enough to be matched up on both ends with the incredible athleticism of John Wall. As a result, Jackson struggled despite some solid flashes, and probably looked like a more limited player than he actually is.

Jackson has the physical attributes to play in the NBA, with a strong body and a good first step. The French guard also displayed better point guard abilities than expected as well, finding the shooter after drawing the defense on the pick and roll a couple times, and also dropping the ball to the open big in the dunkers spot after penetrating into the paint. His handle was solid, but not quite good enough against the quick hands of John Wall at times, and a couple errant passes resulted from over-penetration into bad spots as well.

As a scorer, Jackson usually shoots the ball effectively, but missed both of his three point looks in this game. The guard's shot selection needs work, as he put up some contested mid-range shots that were enough to drive any coach crazy. He did show a very nice floater near the basket, and showed no fear attacking the basket against any player from the US Team.

Jackson's athleticism and upside makes him a somewhat intriguing long-term prospect, and he'll face very few guards as good defensively as John Wall. Returning to France for the next two seasons at least could do a great deal of good for him, especially if he can secure some major minutes playing point guard. If his game continues to mature, Edwin Jackson has the tools to develop into an NBA player.

Mamadou Samb, 0 points, 4 rebounds

An athletic power-forward with a great wing-span, we really didn't get to see much of anything from Mamadou Samb this week, who was forced to play small forward out of necessity. This was the first time Samb had ever been placed in this spot, and he struggled as a result.

During the practices, Samb struggled showing a high skill-level during the drills, but always made an impact once the team starting going up and down in the scrimmages. An athletic player who can run the floor, he showed very good rebounding instincts, a solid jumper, and good defensive ability. His rebounding and defense were both solid in the game, but he didn't receive the ball once in a spot where he was comfortable taking a shot.

Samb has developed quite nicely in Spain this season from everything we've heard, and his rights belong to FC Barcelona. The roster worked against his favor for him to show anything too impressive this week, and he will probably remain in Spain a couple more years before thinking of declaring for the draft. Maybe we'll see an appearance from him at EuroCamp, which could be a much better situation for him to showcase himself against NBA scouts.

Mateo Gaynor, 4 points, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 2/2 FG

Gaynor played limited minutes with his World Select squad, but made a number of solid plays to help his team in his 9 minutes of playing time. The guard has good size at 6'6" but seems pretty average athletically, with a lanky frame and above average lateral quickness. The Argentinean guard played a key role for his Junior National Team at the U18 Tournament of the Americas, where his native squad took down the team from the United States in the finals.

Gaynor made a couple of crafty drives to the basket, where he finished using smart angles, which was necessary considering his below the rim style of play. He displayed solid three point shooting ability in the practices as well, but didn't get a single look from long range in the game. The guard also passes the ball quite well, and really stood out on the defensive end, where his long arms and quickness really come in handy.

Mateo Gaynor doesn't look like a great NBA prospect, but has some very interesting tools. His rights belong to Benetton Treviso in Italy, and he could potentially develop as a shooting specialist in the future. If he becomes stronger and continues to improve, he may be someone teams will want to look at a few years down the line.

Zhang Dayu, 6 points, 0 rebounds, 4 fouls, 3/6 FG

Zhang Dayu struggled early in the week, but became better in the practices each day as the week progressed. His best performance of the week came in the game, where he finished with 6 points in 10 minutes of action. Four of his points came off of mid-range pick and pop jumpers, where he showed the knowledge to separate from the screen quickly and make himself a target for the ball. The Chinese big also rolled to the basket very nicely on one side screen and roll, and he was found for an easy finish inside.

Physically, Dayu runs the court quite well, but has a very short wingspan (6-9) for his size, and doesn't possess great explosiveness. During the practices, he showed very nice footwork at times on a couple of post moves and solid touch around the basket as well. He will benefit from the good amount of playing time with his team in the Chinese Basketball Association, but doesn't really appear to be much of an NBA prospect at this point.

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