The World Select Team captured an 84-75 win over the USA Junior National Select Team in the Nike Hoop Summit on Saturday night at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon.
The USA fought back from an 18-point deficit to take a 75-74 lead with 3:20 remaining in the game before the international squad closed on a 10-0 run to capture its fourth win and largest margin of victory in the 15-game history of the event. It was the World's second win in the past 11 games. Anthony Bennett grabbed a loose ball and hit a decisive three-pointer as the shot clock expired in the closing minutes. That shot dashed any hope the USA had of emerging with a comeback win.
Shabazz Muhammad showed why he's the No. 1 2012 recruit in the nation as he set the event record with 35 points, breaking Enes Kanter's 34-point effort two years ago. Muhammad, who is being pursued by Kentucky, UCLA and Duke, hit 12-of-27 shots while grabbing nine rebounds. Kyle Anderson (UCLA) was the other USA player to show well as he came on in the second half and finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. The USA did not get any consistent offense from anyone else on their roster. The team shot only 35.9 percent from the field, 22 percent on three's and, other than Muhammad and Anderson, they shot 11-for-38 overall.
The World Team owned the boards, out-rebounding the Americans 57-34. Wang Zhelin (7'0", China) was impressive during the week in practice exhibiting good footwork and use of his body in the paint. Zhelin outplayed the more heralded USA big's Kaleb Tarczewski (Arizona), Nerlens Noel and Mitch McGary (Michigan) as he dominated inside in the second half and finished with 19 points and eight boards. Dario Saric (6'10", Croatia) played in his second straight Hoop Summit and showed why he should be a 2013 NBA first round draft pick. Saric plays extremely smart and can be a point forward on offense. He tied a Hoop Summit record with 14 rebounds to go along with 13 points and five assists.
Perhaps the most impressive for the World Team was Andrew Wiggins (6'7", Canada). We've seen Wiggins for the past three years. He has gotten taller and has refined his offensive game in that time. Only 17 years old, and playing against players two to three years older, Wiggins dominated in practice and played an outstanding game. He had 15 points at the half and finished with 20 overall and seven rebounds. Wiggins is rated the top recruit in the 2014 class and should be a star in the NBA. His teammate on the Canadian national team, Anthony Bennett (6'7", 239 pounds) hit the most important shot of the game but otherwise was limited somewhat after jamming his ankle early in the game. Bennett, ranked as the top power forward in the 2012 class and No. 7 overall, finished with seven points and 11 rebounds.
Several of the players at the event will be making their college choices on the April 11 signing date. Muhammad (mentioned above), Bennett (Kentucky, UNLV, Florida, Oregon, Washington), 6'11" Nerlens Noel (Kentucky, Georgetown and Syracuse) and 6'8", 270-pound Tony Parker (Duke, Georgia, Kansas, Ohio State and UCLA). It will be interesting to see how John Calipari does in trying to persuade Muhammad, Bennett and Noel to join his national champion Kentucky Wildcats.