Thanks to adidas Basketball, ESPN and the TrueHoop network, I’ve been given the opportunity to cover the 2012 adidas Nations for Roundball Mining Company. For those unfamiliar with the adidas Nations, it’s a global tournament for the best players under 19, both here in the USA and internationally. It’s one of the most prestigious grassroots basketball programs in the world, where top high school talent and some of the best collegiate players in the country train under real NBA coaches.
There are a ton of Denver Nuggets connections in this year’s adidas Nations currently taking place in Southern California. Along with all of the other NBA teams, Denver’s scouting department has a strong presence here and Nuggets assistant Melvin Hunt is part of the core group of NBA coaches instructing the college counselors as well as the high school athletes in attendance. Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo joins Alec Burks, Nolan Smith, Luc Mbah a Moute and Darren Collison as some of the adidas athletes who will act as NBA ambassadors to the program.
This is an exciting event featuring a ridiculous amount of talent from the next three NBA draft classes, and I strongly encourage any hoops fan to watch the championship game on Monday night, which will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network at 6pm Mountain time. RMC will be on hand to provide coverage throughout the event.
Here’s a few of the highlights from day one of the 2012 adidas Nations.
Dante Exum shines
Dante Exum is already the next big thing in Australian basketball, and he seems to be well on his way to becoming the next worldwide hoops phenom behind an incredible performance in the opening day of pool play on Friday.
The 6-3 combo guard from East Melbourne, Australia was already drawing attention for standout performances in last month’s FIBA Under-17 world championships. He’s followed it up with a jaw dropping start in the adidas Nations, leading Team Australia to a 74-72 win over the 2013 USA Red squad. He finished with 17 points on 5-6 shooting (7-8 from the line), 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals. Most impressive was his ability to score at will without dominating the ball or freezing out his teammates.
Exum plans to attend college after finishing his last year of high school in Australia next year. He was scouted last month by the University of North Carolina, where his father Cecil played before starting a successful pro career in Australia’s NBL. His combination of length, athleticism, and playmaking instincts are almost unreal for a 17-year old. I’d bet a large sum of money he plays in the NBA and does well there. He’s a great talent and it should be interesting to follow his development as a basketball player in the coming years.
Andre Roberson interview
Andre Roberson is next in line to join Chauncey Billups and Alec Burks as rare first-round picks to come out of the University of Colorado. The 6-7 Forward will be a Junior for Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes next season and is coming off a breakout year in which he led Colorado to just their third NCAA tournament appearance in 43 years. I caught up with him at the gym to discuss his goals for next year, the NBA draft and his relationship with some of the other great players to come out of CU.
On personal goals and team goals for next season
My personal goal is to be Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Team goals, we just wanna go out there and do a repeat but go further than we did last year. I just feel we have to go compete day-in and day-out and be at the top of the conference.
On being more of a leader
Definitely. Coach Boyle wants me step up as more of a vocal leader. He says I’m more of the quiet-type and I just feel like I have to step up my overall game, go out there and compete every night.
On NBA Draft buzz and his relationship with Alec Burks
He says it’s a grind, you’ve gotta go out there and keep working hard every day and eventually it pays off. Alec is one of my good friends and I’m also going to try to get a little advice from Chauncey, who’s been through it all. I just wanna go out and work as hard as I can every day.
On how running NBA sets with the coaches here has helped him
Just cause you get a little taste of it, preparing for that next step. That little bit more to help elevate my game, going out there and continuing to practice hard.
On how he plans to step it up defensively next season
Just taking on that role of being the team stopper. Just going out there, trying to shut down the best player and just competing.
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