What NBA Scouts Saw at Nike Hoop Summit from Top 2023 NBA Draft ProspectsApril 11, 2022
After a two-year layoff, the Nike Hoop Summit returned with loaded rosters that drew dozens of NBA executives to Portland.
There was a shared belief among scouts that every USA member looked like a one-and-done 2023 first-rounder. The Americans handled a bigger World Team, winning 102-80.
But a few international prospects still stood out as well, including two who will be eligible for the upcoming draft.
Here are some observations after watching practices and games from Tuesday to Friday and chatting with NBA talent evaluators.
Amari Bailey (Sierra Canyon, 6'4", SG, Committed to UCLA)
Bailey was productive against the World Team, finishing with 10 points, five boards and four assists. Some quick and high-IQ passes stood out most, with his other buckets mostly coming off easy finishes and a bank-shot leaner.
There were a few occasions where he was denied around the basket where he struggled to explode above the rim or create an easy angle.
Overall for the week, he had a tough time revealing an identity or selling scouts on his advantage skills. Maturity and vocal leadership did stand out. His mind looked more impressive than his shot or physical abilities in Portland. After the first practice, Bailey circled the gym's perimeter and introduced himself to every media member and spectator.
Anthony Black (Duncanville, 6'7", SG/SF, Committed to Arkansas)
Black didn't score at the Nike Hoop Summit. His highlight play was an awesome transition block on Jean Montero, where he showed outstanding timing and verticality.
His defense throughout the week was impressive, particularly guarding around the perimeter at 6'7". He also had some encouraging stretches of shooting during practice, while his differentiator offensive skills remain his ball-handling and passing.
Gradey Dick (Sunrise Christian, 6'7", SG/SF, Committed to Kansas)
As the Gatorade National Boys Player of the Year, Dick arrived in Portland known for his shooting stroke. He showcased that throughout the week, even though he only made one shot during Friday night's game.
Scouts seemed more impressed with his athleticism. On Thursday, he opened eyes by throwing down big dunks in warm-ups and hammering one down off a drive during the scrimmage against the Portland Generals.
It's worth questioning how well Dick will be able to create for himself and separate against NBA-caliber defenders. But at 6'7" with an elite jumper, sharp skills and high IQ, he still comes off as a high-floor pro who'll make an immediate impact at Kansas.
Kyle Filipowski (Wilbraham & Monson, 6'11", PF/C, Committed to Duke)
Scouts were excited about getting their first look at Filipowski, who was deemed ineligible for last week's McDonald's All American Game. His performance throughout the week was somewhat of a letdown considering the positive buzz that had been building.
He was simply bad during Thursday's scrimmage against the Generals, with his lack of vertical explosion appearing evident around the rim. His touch looked totally off as well, with Filipowski nearly air-balling a free throw and bricking a forced three he took to try to get himself going.
He didn't help himself during Friday night's game, either, getting his shot blocked multiple times in traffic.
There is still enough tape on Filipowski that highlights exciting ball-handling and agility in the open floor, shooting potential and passing. But after this week, we'd likely project him closer to the late lottery or mid-first round than the top five.
Keyonte George (IMG, 6'4", SG, Committed to Baylor)
George was quiet through three-and-a-half quarters of USA's scrimmage against the Generals, and then he hit five consecutive three-pointers to close the game.
In February, I was in the building when George erupted for 40 points against La Lumiere, so I've seen his ability to activate takeover mode.
He was quieter Friday night, though he did make an impressive step-back three and show some pick-and-roll playmaking ability on a pretty lob pass to Dereck Lively.
He does need to add a pull-up game, however, as he often gets caught driving into traffic without a plan. Scouts also hoping to see a potential point guard long term didn't sound encouraged.
Dereck Lively (Westtown, 7'1", C, Committed to Duke)
Lively's incredible finishing tools were on display throughout the week. He makes the basket look small at times. And he executed a handful of dunks, including reverses, that highlighted his adjustment finishing. It doesn't need to be a perfect pass for Lively to make an easy basket.
He didn't attempt any threes Friday night, but he was shooting them during practices—a good sign despite the results not matching the confidence or mechanics.
It's that shot that creates upside. In the meantime, his value will revolve primarily around his ability to generate high-percentage field goals and protect the rim.
Dillon Mitchell (Montverde, 6'7", F/C, Committed to Texas)
From Tuesday to Thursday, Mitchell's strengths and limitations were both evident. His athleticism and coordination popped on finishes and slashes past closeouts. And his weak jumper showed on some bad misses.
But Friday he hit a pair of two-dribble mid-range pull-ups, a shot he doesn't typically take or make.
Shooting will be an obvious swing skill for Mitchell, a 6'7" forward or potential small-ball center who is valued for his athleticism around the basket, defensive versatility and passing flashes.
Nick Smith Jr. (North Little Rock, 6'4", PG/SG, Committed to Arkansas)
Scouts came in asking whether Smith projected as a point guard or a pure scorer. Throughout the week, he put an emphasis on trying to set up teammates, and he made some encouraging passing reads off ball screens that highlighted promising playmaking IQ.
His shot was on and off from Tuesday to Friday. Physically, he plays somewhat hunched over. His explosiveness isn't great, and it may be behind his tendency to stop short and use his floater. But he does have an advanced float game, and there aren't many concerns about Smith's overall shot-making ability.
There will be a lot more Smith supporters if he continues to build on his facilitating. He delivered some tough passes off ball screens and penetration during Friday night's game.
Jarace Walker (IMG, PF, 6'7", PF, Committed to Houston)
Walker made a huge skill jump this year at IMG, and it was evident in Portland, even if every shot didn't fall.
With a chiseled 6'7" frame that looks like it belongs to a seasoned NBA forward, Walker hit a few tough two-point jumpers and made some high-level passes throughout the week. He did get stripped multiple times, come up short at the rim and miss threes. But we've seen enough of Walker this year to know he's taken a big step forward with his scoring, shot-making and handle.
Vocal and active defensively in Portland, Walker looked like a pro regardless of the lowlights.
Kel'el Ware (North Little Rock, 7'0", C, Committed to Oregon)
Coming off a strong showing in the McDonald's All American Game, Ware continued to strengthen his case in front of scouts. He hit a pair of impressive jumpers Friday night, including a deep two off a pop-out and a catch-and-shoot three-pointer from the top of the arc.
There were some instances throughout the week of Ware having trouble with physicality around the rim. But he also had his fair share of easy baskets and blocks. Aside from Friday night's shooting flashes, he showed good feel on some quick-processing passes.
Cam Whitmore (Archbishop Spalding, 6'6", SF, Committed to Villanova)
Whitmore felt like the winner of the event after Friday night when he led USA with 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting. He delivered a pair of transition dunks off his signature athleticism and motor, beating the World Team down the floor. He generated the loudest wows on two rhythm three-pointers off the dribble, a shot scouts weren't sure he had in his bag.
Whitmore immediately stands out for his powerful 6'6" frame. He showed more ball-handling craft, passing and shooting than anyone expected. He pulled off tight moves to get through gaps, showed vision on the move and made shots throughout the week, both in-game and in drills.
Coming into the week, I wasn't sure Whitmore was skilled enough to enter the one-and-done discussion. After seeing him up close in Portland, he looks like at least a surefire 2023 first-rounder.
Dariq Whitehead (Montverde Academy, 6'6", SG/SF, Committed to Duke)
Whitehead was up and down heading into Friday night's game. There were days or stretches of him blending into the background. And then he went off for 17 points in 20 minutes against the World Team. He hit five threes, including a gorgeous step-back where he pulled back his dribble to create space before rising up.
Whitehead's shooting development was a talking point throughout the week, with scouts asking how real his improvement was during the season. It looked real Friday night. And at 6'6" with fluid athletic ability for transition scoring and slashing, plus budding creation skills and passing flashes, Whitehead looks like the class' highest-upside two-way wing.
He'll just need to fine-tune his decision-making as a shot-hunter and develop a better feel for how to pick his spots and assert himself.
Honorary Mention: Lamar Washington (AZ Compass, 6'4", SG/SF, Committed to Texas Tech)
A 3-star recruit by 247Sports, Washington was arguably the best player in a scrimmage for the Generals against a USA squad loaded with future NBA talent. He scored 19 points by drilling threes and slashing off ball-handling moves and shiftiness into tough finishes. More of a role player at AZ Compass, Washington was a standout Thursday in front of scouts who didn't know him coming in. They do now.
Omaha Biliew (Link Academy/South Sudan, 6'8", PF, 2004)
Biliew stole the show during Tuesday's World Team practice/scrimmage, which was the first time NBA scouts were allowed in to watch.
From the games I've seen him at Link Academy, where he plays next to a pair of 5-star seniors in Jordan Walsh (Arkansas) and Julian Phillips, Biliew looked more aggressive this week. From Tuesday to Friday, he was Eurostepping through defenses at 6'8", finishing through contact or around it off mid-air adjustments. He missed all three three-point attempts Friday night, but he made enough during practices for a high school junior to feel good about his jumper long term.
Defensively, he used his tools and feel to make some impressive denials.
With a terrific physical profile, advanced footwork off the dribble, wing-like coordination and clear shooting potential, Biliew looked like one of the top prospects at the Nike Hoop Summit.
Leonard Miller (Canada, 6'11", PF, 2003)
Miller may have gotten himself drafted after a week in Portland. Eligible in June, the 18-year-old forward consistently stood out with his mix of 6'11" size and wing skills.
He scored on coast-to-coast takes, handling the ball down the floor and finishing with coordinated runners and layups off full-court drives. He attacked closeouts and scored and passed on the move. Despite a low push release on his jumper, he hit a pair of threes Friday night and jumpers sporadically throughout the week.
Decision-making and defense seemed like the biggest question marks. But assuming he did enough to earn himself plenty of workouts during the predraft process, he'll be in a position to continue rising over the next two months.
Jean Montero (Overtime Elite/Dominican Republic, 6'2 ½", PG, 2003)
There was as much scouting focus on Montero as anyone, considering he'll be eligible for the 2022 draft and scouts still didn't know what to make of his performance in Overtime's inaugural season.
At first glance, it felt impossible not to notice or think about his slight 172-pound frame. It didn't look any better during practice drills and scrimmaging on Tuesday and Thursday when he struggled to finish in traffic or around the basket. His jumper also wasn't falling when he chose to be assertive and look for his shot off the dribble. Although, he did catch fire during Thursday's three-point drills, which were unchallenged looks in rhythm.
He had his best showing of the week when it mattered most. Montero scored 23 points Friday night, hitting a step-back three, another off the hop and a deep one to beat a shot clock. He showed confident command off the dribble, using pace and hesitations in pick-and-rolls while demonstrating vision and IQ facilitating and quarterbacking.
Montero's lack of size and strength showed a few times at both ends, and there are still questions about his shooting based on his 27.8 percent three-point mark with Overtime. But after watching him against USA, scouts should feel better about his creation skills and playmaking translating because of his handle, quickness and IQ. His shot-making also looked more impressive than his previous numbers suggested.
Montero's performance against the U.S. likely improved his chances of going in the first round, though the No. 20-30 range still seems most realistic.