While the 2023 NBA draft is still a few months away, early April is a time for looking ahead to the following year’s prospects. Every spring a select group of high school seniors from the U.S. takes on the top international prospects from around the world in the annual Nike Hoops Summit in Portland, Oregon.
I’ve already written at length about the potential weakness of next year’s draft class and this Hoops Summit did nothing to quell the fears that next year’s draft is going to be a down year. The hard truth is that there are a bunch of decent NBA prospects in this class but not a lot to get really excited about.
This year most of the international players are actually based in the U.S., having come here to play high school ball. And many will be playing college basketball ball next season, further showcasing their talents for NBA scouts. My highest rated international player, Aday Mara from Spain, was not in this game but there were a few other clear NBA guys to watch.
International Talent In The 2024 NBA Draft
Zaccharie Risacher was easily one of the most intriguing players in this game and a highly rated prospect in the 2024 draft. The 6-9 forward from France (ASVEL) is the youngest player in attendance and at times that youth showed. Through most of the game he looked a step slow and somewhat overwhelmed by the intense defense of team U.S.A. In 24 minutes he shot 2 for 7 but did pull down 8 boards. Having just turned 18 years old we should give him some benefit of the doubt but his showing this week in Portland left something to be desired.
Mackenzie Mgbako from Nigeria and heading to Duke next year was one of the standout performers. He showed a level of aggressiveness and confidence that you want to see from big time scorers. The 6-8 wing has a feathery jumper, enough size and strength to bang in the paint and a knack for scoring the ball. He’s not the most heralded recruit but could be one of the better NBA prospects in this class, when it’s all said and done.
Aden Holloway (Canada, Auburn) continues to show intriguing traits. He’s a bit undersized but is just a shot maker, plain and simple. He’s quick with the ball, knows how to get open and has deep range on his jumper. While he’s probably not a one and done, look for him to develop into a star in college and have a shot at a future draft.
Michael Nwoko is a high energy big forward heading to Miami next year. He had a really solid showing, displaying his rebounding, hustle and interior scoring. He’s more of a long term NBA prospect but is someone to monitor over the coming seasons. He finished the night with 17 points and 8 rebounds on 7 for 10 shooting. He also committed a game-high 5 fouls.
This was a great chance to see London Johnson (Jamaica) get some run playing against peers. After spending the last year mostly riding the pine in the G League Johnson had an opportunity to show his stuff tonight. I came away less than impressed. He had some nice moments but he’s just painfully thin and struggles to assert himself. The skill level is there (and developing) and he shows some nice flashes but at less than 165lbs and with a painfully skinny frame he looks far from NBA ready. He’ll be moving down a bit on my draft board.
The Top Performers On Team U.S.A
Ron Holland is just a beast. He’s not overly skilled, doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well but he goes super fucking hard and fills up the stat sheet. His athleticism combined with his high energy level is next to none. Holland put up 15 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 6 steals in the game! While he might not be a first option type of offensive player he’s a gamer, a baller and the type of player you want on your team.
Isaiah Collier came off a great performance last week in Houston at the McDonald’s All American game and looked solid again this week in Portland. I’m not sure he’ll be a star at the next level but he’s clearly got the potential to be a good starting level point guard. Collier went 4 for 7 in the game but continued to struggle from the FT line, hitting only 3 out of 7.
Jared McCain continues to show that he’s got first round potential. He’s got the type of game that fits well in today’s NBA with his quick release and accuracy from outside and his ability to keep the ball moving. McCain shot 5 for 9 in the game and should be a star next year at Duke where he’ll combine with Tyrese Proctor to form a massively talented backcourt.
D.J. Wagner is a gunner and sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. He’s an undersized scoring guard, which might work well in college but I have my doubts about how that will translate to the NBA. He might be more of a spark of the bench player, unless he can really develop his lead guard skills. Wagner went 4 for 14 in the Hoops Summit game and didn’t really standout, even in this weak class.
Bronny James looked OK and had a few really nice moments. He also hoisted back-to-back air balls and looked like just another one of the guys athletically. A certain publication has Bronny in the top 10 of their 2024 mock, which boggles my mind. He’s obviously a very big name player who is going to get a ton of hype but he’s not one of the top players in next year’s draft. I gave my full thoughts on Bronny a few months ago and most of that remains the same. He’s a future NBA player but wouldn’t be considered a first round pick next year if his name was Bronny Smith.
Justin Edwards continues to show flashes and a lot of upside, while also proving to be very much an unfinished product. The Kentucky signee went 4 for 11 for 10 points. He’s the type of athlete you want to bet on but will require a lot of patience as well. He’s probably a one and done but I could also see a world where he needs an extra year in school before being NBA ready.
Local star Jackson Shelstad played well, showing his big time shot making ability, speed and toughness, in a compact 6-0 frame. He won’t be on the fast track to the NBA but he should be a big time star at Oregon over the coming seasons.
Blake Buchanan had some really nice moments, showing off his toughness and athleticism. The 6-9 forward heading to Virginia hit 3 of 6 shots and grabbed 8 boards in 16 minutes of play. He’s not a one and done but is one to watch over the coming years.
Overall, the story remains the same: this is not a great class of prospects. I’m not trying to be Debby-downer over here but I need to call it like I see it.
The fate of the 2024 NBA Draft could be in the hands of returning college players and hopefully some late risers. While it’s too early to give up all hope it is time to temper your excitement about next year’s draft class.
Here’s my latest 2024 Mock Draft