Today, USA Basketball announced the official roster for the World Select Team at the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit that will be held in Portland during the first week of April. We check the different European players that got selected and discuss some players that will not be present.
The Latvian Davis Bertans was one of the big names at the U18 European Championship last summer. He excelled there with his scoring potential and good length for the Small Forward spot. He recently signed with the Slovenian Euroleague team Union Olimpija Ljubljana where he cracked the rotation in Adriatic League play in March.
Evan Fournier was one of the stars at the U18 European Championship in 2009 where he won the Silver Medal with the French team. Fournier has become an important player for his French team of Poitiers 86 over the last weeks as he averaged 11.7ppg since the beginning of February.
The big Center Przemyslaw Karnowski was a key-player for the successful run of the Polish U17 during the World Championship in Hamburg in 2010. The massive inside player is heavily recruited by some major Colleges where Cincinnati is said to be in the lead. His presence at the Hoop Summit will certainly give him the possibility to underline his status in front of lots of Division 1 coaches.
The Brazilian big guy Lucas Riva Nogueira “Bebe” impressed a lot of observers during the U18 Americas Championships in 2010. He is active for Estudiantes Madrid in Spain where he currently plays only for their reserve team in the 4th Spanish division. However, he is considered as a huge talent which he showed with his Brazilian U18 National Team already several times.
Mateusz Ponitka is the second player from the fantastic Polish generation born in 1993 that has been selected for the Nike Hoop Summit. The wing player showed great improvement since 2009 in his overall game and could come up as one of the top scorers for the World Team this year. He was considering to move to play College Basketball as well but to the latest rumors that we heard, this is not the case anymore and he would sign with a professional team this summer.
The youngest player of the roster is the Croatian forward Dario Saric who is considered as one of the biggest talents in his country for years. Saric can virtually play every position with his 2m05 and great passing skills and decision making. He lead his Croatian U16 National team to a Gold Medal this summer and also earned the MVP trophy. He averages already 16.4ppg, 8.7rpg and 2.9apg in the Croatian Senior League.
Next to these European based players, Raul Neto (Brazil), Kevin Pangos (Canada) and Kyle Wiltjer (Canada) have been selected to represent the World Team that will be coached this year by the Canadian Roy Rana.
With only 9 players on the roster so far, there are some additional spots (1 or 2) that can be filled in the next days. He are some players that were probably on the list or that are still in consideration.
Nenad Miljenovic has been invited to participate to the event but is currently still waiting to be allowed by his team FMP Belgrade to travel to Portland. At the moment there has not been any decision on his situation in what looks to become more and more a tough relationship between the Serbian guard and his team. Miljenovic in fact only plays with the Junior team of FMP because he has refused to sign any kind of long-term deal with the team according to rumors.
UPDATE (4th April 2011): Miljenovic will not play in the Nike Hoop Summit
Jonas Valanciunas would have been a sure pick for this kind of event but the Lithuanian Center is by far too important for his team Lietuvos Rytas where he is a big factor in the different competitions that they are still playing (VTB League, Baltic League, Lithuanian League). His game is very well known as he exposed himself on the highest possible European level on a regular basis over the last months.
Enes Kanter was one of the names that were nearly certain to be in Portland but he seems to have declined the invitation. He dominated the event one year ago but did not play one game against serious competition since the summer of 2009 and the U18 European Championship. It would have been a good possibility to see how he developed since then but the Turkish big guy will not be in the event this year unfortunately.
Bismack Biyombo was another name that was mentioned as a possible participant. However, the Congolese player from Fuenlabrada was not on the list that has been published today. With only 9 players selected so far of the 11 supposed to initially, he might be a later addition if his club team lets him participate.
UPDATE (4th April 2011): Biyombo will be Portland despite being threatened by his club Fuenlabrada to be ejected of the Senior Team for the rest of the season.
Philipp Neumann is player that we could have imagined being invited for this event. However, the German big guy did not make the cut in the selection process according to our sources.
Other names that we could have imagined at the event include the Greek forward Linos Chryikopoulos, Rudy Gobert from France, Dmitry Kulagin from Russia, Patrick Heckmann from Germany or Alessandro Gentile from Italy.