Hoop Summit: Kevin Porter steals the show
PORTLAND, Ore. -- On Thursday at the Hoop Summit, USC-bound Kevin Porter -- who isn’t playing in Friday’s game -- stole the show.
National Basketball analyst Eric Bossi explains how Porter turned heads in an event he’s not on the roster for, plus other takeaways from a busy day of action at the Hoop Summit that included two practices from Team USA and one from the World.
KEVIN PORTER STOLE THE SHOW
Each year at the Nike Hoop Summit, the USA team holds a Thursday night scrimmage against a team that has been affectionately dubbed the Portland Generals. It’s usually local college players or overseas pros that can put up a fight but lose. This year, USC commit Kevin Porter from Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach was included on the roster and in a gym full of NBA decision-makers, the future Trojan stole the show.
A 6-foot-5 southpaw with athleticism and a big, strong frame, Porter has long been one of the class of 2018’s most pure scorers and that held true on Thursday night. What was most impressive, though, was the huge chip on his shoulder that Porter hit the floor with to play against a USA Team full of players ranked higher than him.
During a scrimmage that lasted four 10 minute quarters, Porter was the best player on the floor. He attacked the rim, he bombed deep jumpers made slick passes and if he was out to prove a point that he’s just as good as the players on the USA’s Hoop Summit team, he did so. Based on a big-time senior year at Seattle (Wash.) Rainer Beach and the work he put in Thursday night, Porter deserves serious consideration for elevation into five-star status when we release our final ranking of the class of 2018 on Monday.
USA TEAM THURSDAY NOTES
Going strictly off of how they played on Thursday, five-star Vanderbilt-bound point guard Darius Garland was the USA Team’s top performer. After fighting some shooting struggles when I saw him during the high school season and at the McDonald’s All-American Game, the Nashville product was on target with his jumper. He was even more on target directing the offense, finding open scorers and showing some competitive fire on the defensive end. His strength will come with a college weight room but he looks like everything that Commodore fans are hoping he’ll be next season.
During Thursday night’s scrimmage, the Kansas-bound duo of five-star combo guard Quentin Grimes and top 35 big man David McCormack showed very well. For one, both played with good energy for a team that sometimes lacked it and two they played to each of their strengths.
Grimes looked like the best passer on the USA squad and he did a great job of mixing in versatile offense via drives to the rim, deep jumpers and pull-ups. As for McCormack, I’m not sure I’ve seen a player over the past few days who better understands his role. He’s in Portland to be physical, crash the glass and provide some toughness and hustle and he filled that role well. If everybody is back at Kansas next year the Jayhawks will be huge across the front line with McCormack joining former five-stars Udoka Azubuike and Silvio De Sousa and Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson. With Lawson’s skill and the size and strength of McCormack, Azubuike and De Sousa, Bill Self should be able to run the most high/low action he’s run since twins Marcus and Markieff Morris played for the Jayhawks.
Understandably, NBA guys have sometimes been conflicted when watching top five big man Bol Bol in Portland. At times the Oregon-bound big man hasn’t been consistent, but he’s also made some plays that nobody else in the gym could think of making. Thursday night’s “wow” moment was a recovery to block a shot with his left hand and snatch it out of the air -- and away from an opponent who looked to have it secured -- with his right before hitting the ground. It’s not a teachable play, and Bol specializes in plays that aren’t teachable because of his size, athleticism and skill.
After the McDonald’s All-American Game, undecided five-star Jordan Brown spent some time at home in Sacramento (Calif.) with his family to rest and get ready for the Hoop Summit. Because of that, nobody could go see him at Napa (Calif.) Prolific Prep the past week or so.
To recap, Brown has visited Cal, Louisiana-Lafayette, St. John’s and UCLA. Recently, Arizona and North Carolina have been among those to try and jump in. UNC wanted to see him but with Brown at home hasn’t been able to make their way out yet. However, Brown said that he should be meeting with the Tar Heels soon after the Hoop Summit. At that point he’ll really start to dive deep into making a decision.
Brown had a good day Thursday, playing with activity and proving to be the best off (left) handed finisher of the USA big men.
WORLD TEAM NOTES
Headed to Michigan, five-star forward Ignas Brazdeikis continues to look like one of the best program fits I’ve seen in 2018. He’ll play inside and out for the Wolverines with his floor stretching jump shooting and his toughness will allow him to be an asset on the glass.
The World team added a new piece Thursday in four-star junior big man Kofi Cockburn from Middle Village (N.Y.) Christ the King. He was a welcome addition because of his size and physicality and motor during their Thursday scrimmaging. What stood out to me is how much better Cockburn looked in Portland than when I saw him in January. In the winter Cockburn looked out of shape and despite having a big advantage near the rim settled for jumpers. Cockburn told me that he realized he needed to “wake up” after his junior season and he looks fully woke.
He’s in much better shape, was quick off the floor and mixed power and jumpers nicely. 2019 is setting up as a nice big man class and if Cockburn keeps up like this he only strengthens that thought. St. John’s, Georgetown, Syracuse, Florida State, LSU, Oklahoma State, Providence, Seton Hall, Oregon and many others have already offered and he should be a priority guy during April’s two live evaluation weekends for coaches.
Class of 2019 five-star wing Josh Green continued a solid showing in Portland. He’ll enter the spring with a lot of momentum because of it. The Australian who plays at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG is solid in all phases of the game. When we talk about a kid being a “basketball player” we are saying he plays to strengths, knows the game and has versatility. Green is a basketball player.
He had some ups and downs during the scrimmage portion of practice. But, during skill work, situational play and full court drills, 2018’s No. 1 player R.J. Barrett was playing with an extra gear. The future Duke Blue Devil had his energy turned up from where it was on Tuesday and his teammates took a cue from him resulting in the most locked in and efficient of any of the five total practices I saw over the last three days in Portland.
MCDANIELS SET TO EXPLODE THIS SPRING
The younger brother of San Diego State redshirt freshman and former four-star prospect Jalen McDaniels (who has thrown his name into the NBA Draft), the 2019 forward from Federal Way (Wash.) has big upside himself. In fact, he looks to be a better prospect than his already lofty ranking of No. 63 in the junior class would suggest.
He can shoot, is capable of switching up and down a lineup on defense and is just a pup figuring out how good he can be. At the same age, reminds me quite a bit of former five-star prospect Jonathan Isaac, who just finished up his rookie season with the Orland Magic.