USA Midwest's trio shines on Day 1
HILLSBORO, Ore. -- After the first day of action at the Nike Global Challenge, there are a couple of teams that appear to be a cut above the rest. The USA Midwest squad is immensely gifted and are led by three of the premier players, at their respective positions, in the country in 6-foot-9 PF Anthony Davis (Chicago/Perspectives), 6-4 SG Bradley Beal (St. Louis/Chaminade) and 5-11 PG Jahii Carson (Gilbert, Ariz./Mesa).
If there is one team that could take down USA Midwest, it's going to be Canada. Coincidentally, Canada's two best prospects -- Kyle Wiltjer and Khem Birch -- play their high school ball in the United States. Wiltjer, who is arguably the best prospect on the West Coast for his class, displays his skills at Jesuit High School in Portland, Ore., while Birch is an up-and-coming talent that plays above the rim for Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass.
2011, PG, 5-11, 165 pounds | Team: USA Midwest
Carson, who has a tendency to play more for flash than substance, was terrific in his team's dismantling of Team Asia. His 22-point, nine-assist (with only one turnover) performance was solid on many levels. His penetration into the teeth of the defense and decision making were the catalysts to his team's easy victory. He has elite-level quickness and speed and his change of direction was impressive. Plus, when the opening wasn't available, he calmly sank his jump shot.
2011, PF, 6-8, 210 | Team: Canada
Wiltjer is arguably the most skilled 4-man in the country. He isn't overly athletic and he needs to get stronger for the next level, but his skill level is peerless. He has savvy beyond his years and understands scoring angles better than most. His up-and-under moves, step-back jump shots and left-handed finishes are impressive. The knock on him through the years has been his tendency to play soft, but throughout the summer that area of his game has significantly improved. Overall, he didn't have his 3-point shot going (1 of 7), but he finished the night with 31 points and 18 rebounds.
Dom Pointer (Winston-Salem, N.C./Quality Education Academy)
2011, SF, 6-5, 195 | Team: USA Midwest
Pointer has a terrific wing-type frame, has off-the-charts athleticism and gets his points by attacking the rim. He takes contact well and usually elevates over the competition. He can finish with either hand and his conversions are usually of the spectacular variety. However, at his size, his jump shot needs to get better. The lift on his shot is ideal, but he tends to shoot on the way down causing his shot to be flat.
One to watch
2012, PF, 6-7, 185 | Team: Canada
Birch is one of the elite prospects in the Class of 2012. He has a long, lean frame and is extremely bouncy. He influences the game at a high level, despite being limited offensively. He had a number of extraordinary blocks and electrifying dunks in traffic. He gets to the rim before most get off the ground. He projects as a hybrid 4-man, but his skills and fundamentals need polishing.
• Beal displayed why he's the most complete shooting guard in the country. He's not at the same level as Austin Rivers (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park) in terms of all-around scoring ability, but he's more complete in other areas of the game -- including a more consistent shooter.
• Nick Johnson (Henderson, Nev./Findlay Prep) is an undersized shooting guard for the next level, but he affects the game in a variety of ways. He is a tenacious on-ball defender and attacks the rim with a vengeance.
• Team Canada has a clever point guard in 6-1 Kevin Pangos (Holland Landing, Ontario/Denison Secondary). He changes direction well and has a great feel for the game. Gonzaga is one of the schools showing interest.
• Lucas Riva Nogueira, a 6-9 center from Rio de Janeiro, hasn't improved much offensively from a year ago, but he alters the game defensively due to his length and timing.
• James McAdoo (Norfolk, Va./Norfolk Christian), a 6-8 senior, struggled from the field (10 of 28) but helped his team stay in the game against Canada by snagging 13 rebounds and blocking five shots.
• In the nightcap, 6-5 UNC commit P.J. Hairston (Greensboro, N.C./Hargrave Military Academy) powered USA South to a hard-fought overtime win against Brazil. Hairston attacked the rim off the bounce and nailed four 3-pointers to keep the defense honest.
Joel Francisco is a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting.
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