The Nike Global Challenge in Hillsboro, Ore., is the last major all-star tournament of the 2010 summer basketball circuit and features some of the nation's top high school recruits along with several elite international players. RivalsHigh will have daily reports from the event.
HILLSBORO, Ore. - The word is chambrer. In literal French, it means either "to mock" or "to bring wine to room temperature." It's also slang for trash-talk.
Some members of the USA West team decided to parlez vous a little chambrer early in their matchup with Team INSEP (France) in the first round of the Nike Global Challenge. Bad idea. La Francais came to play, heating up well beyond room temperature in the second half and holding on to beat USA West black-and-cordon-bleu, 112-108.
"We have, I think, more intensity," said French guard Benjamin John after scorching USA West for 25 points. "That makes the difference."
Indeed. It did all day.
If the players on the four USA teams figured they were the top four teams in this eight-team international tourney, they clearly were suffering from a little American elitism.
Things started off routinely enough for the host country after USA Midwest put a 41-point hurting on the All-Asia Camp team.
Then the wheels came off for USA West against France in the first upset of the day, but not the last. Canada outlasted USA East in a double-overtime thriller and Brazil came agonizingly close to sending a third straight US team to the consolation bracket before falling to USA South in overtime.
Canada's win was arguably the most impressive, coming as it did against a USA East team featuring five-star recruits James McAdoo of Norfolk (Va.) Norfolk Christian, Rakeem Christmas of Bryn Athyn (Pa.) Academy of the New Church and Michael Gbinjie of Richmond (Va.) Benedictine. But star power alone doesn't hit clutch shots - and neither did USA East in the game's waning moments.
"The US always has something to lose," said Canadian forward Khem Birch of Fitchburg (Mass.) Notre Dame after putting up a 25-point, 20-rebound performance. "We're Canada, we have nothing to lose."
Not that Birch (Rivals No. 9 for 2012) - or his teammates - had any intention of doing anything other than serving USA East humble pie coated in maple syrup.
"People always put high expectations on the US and we thought we could use that against them," said Canadian forward Kyle Wiltjer of Portland (Ore.) Jesuit High after putting up a game-high 31 points. "We went into the game with the mindset that we'd play our hearts out and have each other's backs no matter what happened. We knew they were good, but we also knew we could win."
This and that from Day 1
NGC rosters underwent last-minute musical chairs on Day One as a handful of high-profile players were late scratches from competition. Among them, Rivals No. 3 Austin Rivers of Winter Park (Fla.) High, No. 11 Myck Kabongo of Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep and Louisville recruit (and Rivals No. 14) Wayne Blackshear of Chicago (Ill.) Morgan Park. In their stead came the likes of Rivals No. 34 Rodney Hood of Meridian (Miss.) High, No. 41 Dai-Jon Parker of Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton and (Rivals No. 5 for 2012) Brandon Ashley of Oakland (Cali.) Bishop O'Dowd.
It was a rough day for underclassmen at the NGC as Canada's Andrew Wiggins of Creedmoor (N.C.) Christian Faith Center Academy (Class of 2014) and Class of 2013 recruits Torren Jones of Chandler (Ariz.) Basha and Nigel Williams-Goss of Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep combined for a total of 15 points on 7-for-25 shooting. Williams-Goss had the biggest impact, playing 35 minutes and dishing out seven assists in USA East's double-OT loss to Canada.
USA Midwest point guard Jahii Carson of Gilbert (Ariz.) Mesa - all 5-feet-11-inches of him - earned some early votes for the NBA Slam Dunk Contest circa 2014 after putting on an aerial display during pre-game warm-ups that sent a group of kids from a local Boys and Girls Club into a Coke-and-Pop Rocks kind of tizzy. And that was before he scored 22 points on 9-for-11 shooting against All-Asia.
Bobby Parks Jr. of Memphis (Tenn.) Melrose was the main - a cynic might say only - bright spot on Day One for the All-Asia team. Parks - who holds dual US-Filipino citizenship as the son of former Memphis phenom and Philippines basketball legend Bobby Parks - put up 25 points (including five three-pointers) against USA Midwest, to account for nearly a third of All-Asia's total points.
I'm not sure if "glutton for punishment" translates into Mandarin but All-Asia guard Tian Guisen certainly took more than his fair share of lumps. When he wasn't fighting off a smothering full-court press by USA Midwest, he was trying desperately - mostly futilely - to man up on speedy Jahii Carson. For variety, Guisen did a massive belly flop on the court after getting upended while battling Anthony Davis and Amir Williams for a rebound and then bowled over several folding chairs with his head while diving after a loose ball. All in a 40-point loss. This "A" for effort stands for Aspirin.
College scouts are prohibited from scouting at the Nike Global Challenge but plenty of NBA personnel were on hand Friday to size up the talent. More than a dozen pro scouts were taking tabs and scribbling notes on a group of players who figure to be shaking David Stern's hand within the next few years.
Bradley Beal of St. Louis (Mo.) Chaminade continued his endless summer - which started at the Boo Williams Invitational in April and included stops in South Carolina for the Peach Jam and Germany for a gold medal at the FIBA U17 World Championship (where he was tournament MVP - by casually scoring 28 points to lead USA Midwest against All-Asia. "It's kind of a relief actually," the North Carolina recruit said of summer's end. "I've been playing basketball nonstop. I feel pretty good right now though." Throwing up 28 will do that.
Before the first tip, sinewy USA Midwest center Anthony Davis of Chicago (Il.) Perspectives looked like a strong gust of wind would knock him out of the pre-game layup line. After the first tip, it quickly became obvious why he's ranked No. 8 in the Rivals150 for 2011. Daddy Longlegs threw down thunderous dunks, threaded touch passes, hit soft jumpers and nearly brained a referee with one of his emphatic blocks en route to scoring 23 points and grabbing nine boards in a rout of the All-Asia squad. God help the rest of college basketball if the kid adds muscle by his freshman year.
Dominique Pointer of Winston-Salem (N.C.) Quality Education Academy did his best impression of that other Dominique (Wilkins) with an advanced screening of the Human Highlight Film against All-Asia. The bulk of Pointer's 14 points came via rafter-shaking dunks, including an acrobatic alley-oop from Jahii Carson that Pointer threw down with enough authority to injure himself. "I kinda caught my hand on the back of the rim," the soft-spoken Pointer said while examining his bloodied fingers after the game. Throw in a little hairdressing a la Anthony Mason (Pointer has an Olde English "D" etched into his Mohawk fade) and there's a reason why college scouts are taking notice. Pointer was barely on the radar at the start of the summer and now, at the end, is receiving scholarship offers from West Virginia, Iowa and Tennessee, among others.