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April 4, 2004

USA Select Wins Hoop Summit Game

With a disciplined approach and overwhelming athletic ability, the USA Select team soundly defeated the World Select team 99-79 in the Hoops Summit game in San Antonio. The wild and free style play of the recent all-star games was limited in this more serious affair. Players for the USA played hard on both ends of the court and shared the ball.

Indiana signee, but apparently NBA bound Josh Smith led all scorers with 27 points on 12 of 18 shooting. He connected on 3 of 6 three point attempts and also led the USA team along with Al Jefferson in rebounding with 6 boards. He had 3 steals and 2 blocks as well in a team high 33 minutes of play.

J.R. Smith added 17 points on sub par shooting from behind the arc where he hit 3 out of 11. Rudy Gay and Al Jefferson chipped in with 14 and 13 points respectively.

Sebastian Telfair only scored 6 points but did a brilliant job running the offense, finishing with 7 assists and only 2 turnovers.

Starters for the USA team were Sebastian Telfair, J.R. Smith, Rudy Gay, Mike Williams, and Al Jefferson.

Luka Bogdanovic, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward from Serbia, led the World team with 20 points on 5 of 11 shooting. He made 3 of 5 from behind the arc and 7 of 8 from the free throw line.

After the game, Bogdanovic noted the impressive play of Josh Smith, Rudy Gay, Sebastian Telfair, and Al Jefferson.

"They are very athletic," said Bogdanovic. "On defense they were slapping and more physical, but I like that kind of game."

The USA forced the World team to turn the ball over 19 times while the USA only turned it over 6 times. Early in the game, the World team kept the game close by using its height advantage to out rebound the USA. Yet in the second half the quickness and agility of the USA team took over, and the World team only out rebounded the USA by 3 boards.

J.R. Smith, Josh Smith, and Al Jefferson each had tremendous dunks over hapless defenders in the second half when the athletic advantage of the USA team really took over.

Both teams played strictly man to man defense in the half court. In the first half the USA used an effective 2-2-1 zone press that forced the World team to use up much of the shot clock getting the ball in a position to initiate their offense.

Xavier signee Churchill Odia played a solid game for the World team, scoring 10 points on 4 of 8 shooting and 2 of 3 shooting behind the arc.

Another World team player, undecided Juan Diego Palacios, also scored 10 points on 5 of 12 points in only 13 minutes of play.

The other undecided player in the game Malik Hairston played an active and effective game off the bench for the USA team. He scored 7 points.

Other scorers for the USA were Mike Williams with 7, D.J. White with 4, Joseph Jones with 2, and late addition Daniel Gibson with 2.

Future Bruin point guard Jordan Farmar sat out the game with a grade one ankle sprang, suffered in practice.

Faces in the Crowd & The Undecided

A multitude of scouts, college coaches, and former players were in the crowd. Danny Ainge, Jerry West, Steve Kerr, Rex Chapman, Danny Ferry, and Chris Mullins were just some of the notables in attendance.

With Malik Hairston and Juan Diego Palacios still undecided, the Michigan, Florida State, UCLA, Louisville, Ohio State coaching staffs were very visible around the court.

Hairston did say after the game that he will make a decision in the next seven days and at this point has no idea where he will end up. Hairston's good friend Jordan Farmar has been working him hard to go to college in LA.

"He is probably my best friend on the circuit," said Farmar. "I have been telling him that I want to play with him. UCLA is a good situation with lots of talent coming in, a great coach, in a great place, with good academics, and lots of networking possibilities being in LA."

A source very close to the Palacios situation said that Palacios wants very badly to bypass college and go straight to the NBA. He has not played well enough lately, however, to get the guarantee from a NBA team that he will be their first round pick. Based on his play in the Hoop Summit game, it looks like he will be attending Florida State, Louisville, Baylor, or Indiana next year. Word has it that Florida State is the leader.

A more detailed analysis of Palacios' game with be forthcoming, along with other player profiles. Unfortunately, Palacios was not made available to the media after the game.

Along with Hoop Summit player profiles with evaluations and player quotes, more news and notes from the Hoop Summit game and the Final Four will appear in On the Bounce with Coach Meyer in the coming days.


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