The World Select Team has been announced for the 2012 Nike Hoop Summit, the premier annual basketball game featuring many of the world’s leading basketball players aged 19-years-old or younger, which will take place on Saturday, April 7 (7 p.m. PDT tip-off) at the Rose Garden, in Portland, Oregon.
The game, which sees America’s top senior high school players take on a World Select Team, has been staged on 14 previous occasions and has given an extraordinary number of talented youngsters the chance to showcase their abilities. As of 2011, an incredible 125 Hoop Summit alumni have been drafted into the NBA.
Seeking their first victory since 2009, when the World Team beat the USA 97-89 in front of a record crowd of 11,246 and a national television audience, the World Team has named a strong 11-man roster for the 2012 game, including two players returning from the 2011 squad.
Forwards Dario Saric (6’9”, KK Zagreb Croatia Osiguranje / Croatia) and Evan Fournier (6’6”, Union Poitiers Basket 86 / France) were members of the World Team beaten 90-78 at the Rose Garden nearly 12 months ago.
Along with the two returning players, the team has named two Canadian forwards based in the United States – Anthony Bennett (6’8”, Findlay College Prep, Nev.) and Andrew Wiggins (6’7”, Huntington Prep, W.Va.).
The team also features four guards from Europe – Aleksandar Cvetkovic (6’3”, BC Crvena Zvezda DIVA / Serbia), Leo Westermann (6’5”, ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne / France), Dmitry Kulagin (6’6”, BC Triumph Lyubertsy / Russia) and Michal Michalak (6’6”, LKS Lodz / Poland).
The global squad is rounded off with centers Marcos Delia (6’9”, Boca Juniors / Argentina), Wang Zhelin (7’0”, Fujian SBS Xunxin / China) and Patson Siame (6’10”/ Zambia).
Cvetkovic plays for the prestigious Crvena Zvezda team in the top division of Serbian basketball and was a key member of the Serbia under-19 national team that won silver at the 2011 World Championship in Latvia where he was voted best guard and also selected to the All-Tournament first team.
Westermann is one of two French players chosen to the 2012 Hoop Summit team and plays his club basketball for the storied Asvel-Villeurbanne team in his homeland. He stood out at the under-20 World Championship in 2011, where he helped France to a bronze medal, and comes to Portland fresh from winning the skills challenge at the French All-Star Game.
Russia’s Kulagin plays for the Triumph Lyubertsy team in Moscow. A player on both the Russian under-19 and under-20 teams last year, Kulagin helped his under-19 team reach the semi-finals of the World Championship where his form earned him a place on the All-Tournament first team.
The final guard on the 2012 roster is Michalak from Poland who plays for the LKS Lodz club in the top division of Polish basketball. Michalak starred at the 2011 under-19 World Championships in Latvia where he was the fifth highest scorer in the competition, averaging 17.4 points per game. Michalak was also a Polish League All-Star in 2011.
France’s Fournier plays for Union Poitiers in the French Pro A league and, after two seasons at the highest level of professional basketball in his country, was selected to the full national team in 2011. Fournier also enjoyed an outstanding under-20 European Championship where he led France to the bronze medal and was voted best guard and named to the All-Tournament first team by the influential Eurobasket.com.
Another returnee from the 2011 Hoop Summit team, Croatia’s Saric plays his club basketball with KK Zagreb Croatia Osiguranje and was voted Defensive Player of the Year in Croatia’s A1 league in 2011. After appearing in Portland last April, Saric enjoyed a strong under-19 World Championships for Croatia, finishing fourth overall in scoring (18.1 points per game) and third in rebounds (10.1 rebounds per game).
Also at the forward position, Bennett is a veteran of the Canada under-16 and under-17 national teams, having played for World Team head coach Ray Rana on the under-17 team that won bronze at the inaugural FIBA under-17 World Championship in Germany in 2010. He is currently playing high school basketball at Findlay College Prep in Nevada.
Wiggins also played for Coach Rana and Canada at the 2010 under-17 World Championship where he scored 20 points in 22 minutes in his country’s 103-83 defeat to the United States. Like Bennett, he is playing high school basketball in the USA, at Huntington Prep in West Virginia.
Moving to the center position, Argentina’s Delia is with the Boca Juniors team in LigaA, the top division of basketball in his homeland. Delia also appeared for his national team at the FIBA Americas under-18 Championship in San Antonio, Texas, in 2010 and helped his country reach the semi-finals of the under-19 World Championship in Latvia last year.
China’s Wang Zhelin, from the Fujian SBS Xunxin club, played for his national team at both under-19 and under-23 levels in 2011 and, in 2010, was voted best center and named to the All-Tournament first team as China won gold at the All-Asian under-18 Championship in Yemen.
The final spot on the 2012 World Team roster is taken by Zambia’s Patson Siame who first came to the attention of scouts when he made a strong impression at the 2011 Basketball Without Borders event in South Africa.
To date 125 former USA and World Select players have been drafted by NBA teams and, as of January 25, 2012, 63 former USA players and 17 former World team members were active in the NBA.
The list of World alumni currently in the NBA includes: Bismack Biyombo (Charlotte Bobcats); Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder); Nicolas Batum (Portland Trail Blazers); Andrea Bargnani (Toronto Raptors); Omri Casspi (Cleveland Cavaliers); Enes Kanter (Utah Jazz); Yi Jianlian (Dallas Mavericks); Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks); Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs); Vladimir Radmanovic (Atlanta Hawks) and Luis Scola (Houston Rockets).
Tickets for the 15th annual Nike Hoop Summit are now on sale. General admission is $5 in advance and $10 on game day, and reserved courtside seats are $25 and $50. Tickets can be purchased through the Rose Quarter Ticket Office at 877-789-ROSE (7673), by visiting rosequarter.com or at nikehoopsummit.com.
Thanks to USA Basketball for the content and to Sam Forencich of USA Basketball for the Dario Saric photo.