Have you ever wondered what a guy like Kevin Garnett was like on a high school basketball court?
If you had seen him play four years ago, would you have been able to tell that Kevin Durant was on his way to stardom in the NBA?
What about John Wall? If you had seen him go up against the best high school talents in the world last spring, could you have predicted that he would emerge as the front runner to be the first overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft?
Had you attended the Nike Hoop Summit at some point over the last decade, one of the most competitive and exciting high school basketball all-star games in the world, you might have had a better idea. Garnett played for the USA in 1995, Durant played in 2006, and John Wall, who would soon commit to play for Kentucky in 2009, played in last year’s contest.
On April 10, the Nike Hoop Summit will once again return to Portland, Ore., bringing with it this year’s stock of future NBA stars. In the game, American high school stars challenge international talents from such countries as Serbia, Australia, Canada, and China.
Former world stars include Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum, and Omri Casspi.
Casspi, who played in the 2008 contest and now plays for the Sacramento Kings, told Trail Blazers beat writer Casey Holdahl, “It’s a lot of fun, first time competing against American’s chosen players. We got together, all the international players, we worked out a week before the game. It was a very good experience for all of us.”
Last year’s event attracted a considerable crowd to Portland’s Rose Garden Arena, with estimates coming in at roughly 10,000 attendees. This year’s game is expected to bring a similar crowd and will be televised nationally on FSN.
“There were a lot of NBA scouts and GMs,” Casspi said of his experience. “Me and Nicolas [Batum] played many times in international stages and it was the first time we played together…He got drafted the next year.”
Drafted by the Trail Blazers, Batum isn’t the only Nike Hoop Summit alum playing in Portland. Along with Batum, Trail Blazers Martell Webster, Jerryd Bayless, and Patty Mills all played in the Nike Hoop Summit.
Portland will also be represented by Jefferson High School star Terrence Jones, who some consider to be the best prospect on the West Coast. Jones is currently deciding between Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington, and UCLA to play college ball.
With the NBA playoffs about to kick off and Portland fans preparing themselves for another run at greatness, the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit provides fans the opportunity to take a step back from the high-pressure sports environment and watch a handful of the most talented high school talents in the country show off their greatest skills.
Today, they are wide-eyed and eager to impress.
Tomorrow, they may be taking the court as NBA superstars.