Friday marked one of the more underrated, exciting days in international youth basketball, as Adidas announced the players who will be participating in this year's Adidas Nations tournament.
The prestigious event is a yearly opportunity to see the world's best 18-and-under talent from around the world go against one another for bragging rights. This year's event got underway Friday night with pool play in Garden Grove, Calif., at the Next Level Sports Complex.
The nine teams—five international, four cobbled from the United States' stable of talent—will go against one another over the weekend in a series of games to determine the winner. Once pool play concludes Sunday, the two teams with the best records will face off in the championship Monday, which will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.
For fans, it will be their first opportunity in many cases to see the best and the brightest from the high school Class of 2014. Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle have dominated the conversation at these major events for the last few years, leaving the 2014 players almost completely shadowed from casual observers.
While the hype level for the current crop isn't as high as it is for the "Wigginses" of the world, there are plenty of names you'll need to get familiar with. 247 Sports' top-ranked player for 2014, point guard Tyrus Jones, won't be in attendance, but his closest competition for the crown will be.
Forward-center Jahlil Okafor is ranked second by 247's rankings and is a 6'10" force of nature out of Chicago. His sheer physicality is enough to leave scouts' mouths agape. Okafor will be joined on the red Class of 2014 team by scintillating forward prospect Kevon Looney and guard Jaquan Lyle, a Louisville commit. The red team is largely seen as a favorite for this event.
Point guard Emmanuel Mudiay and his Team USA 2014 blue squad should have a ton to say about that, though. Mudiay is the third-ranked player in the nation, and he'll be joined by another Louisville commit in Shaqquan Aaron and 6'10" forward Trey Lyles.
The United States will also bring two teams (blue and red) from the combined 2015-16 classes. The five international teams are Africa, Australia, Latin America, the Philippines and Russia. Each of those rosters boast a bevy of talent, though none as well-known as the players stateside.
Nevertheless, each nation will not only leave with the experience playing the best of the best in their age group, but also with some great counseling from some pretty notable faces.
NBA players like Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried and New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert will all be in attendance, giving pointers to the youngsters in attendance. (You'll be shocked to know those are all Adidas athletes. Because duh.)
Fran Fraschilla, Ralph Sampson and Eddie Johnson will also be on hand to give their level of expertise, as will a bevy of veteran collegiate stars. Guys like Kyle Anderson of UCLA, Isaiah Austin of Baylor and LeBryan Nash of Oklahoma State will all give council.
Though only held over a long weekend, this Adidas camp should give these players a big-time chance to grow. They'll get to learn what it takes at every level to succeed and pick up little tricks of the trade along the way. Plus, a relaxing trip to California never hurt anyone.
With play getting underway as we speak, take a look at each country's roster for the 2013 Adidas Nations event.
Complete Rosters for 2013 Adidas Nations
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