The 2014 Nike Global Challenge included four foreign teams in the four day tournament held in Chicago, IL. Teams from Brazil, Canada, China, and Africa were all invited to compete amongst each other as well as the four USA teams in participation. Overall, the foreign teams struggled when faced with competition from the United States; however China participated in the third place game after upsetting the USA South team and the three other foreign teams all showcased a few talented individuals.
Shuai Yuan, China, 6’2”, SG
Yuan struggled in his first game but was on fire for his remaining three games. He led all players in scoring at 24 points per game and made a total of 19 three point attempts including 14 in his final two games. In total, Yuan shot 44.2% from behind the arc and almost 55% overall. He hit 7-12 on Friday night against Africa and followed that up with a 7-13 performance on Saturday in the third place game. While Yuan was deadly from the wings he also had enough quickness to get be defenders when they closed out on his outside shot. He might have started slow, but by the end of the tournament Yuan was one of the most exciting players to watch.
Jalen Poyser, Canada, 6’4”, SG, 2015
The leader for Team Canada was without a question 6’4” shooting guard Jalen Poyser. He was named to the All International team and averaged a shade over 20 points per game. Quick and explosive, Poyser wasted no time showing his athleticism in the opening game going for 17 points against USA Midwest. No matter who was guarding him Poyser got any shot he wanted with a long and quick first step. He could explode at the rim for a two hand dunk or a pull-up for a jump shot. While he was fun to watch in the open court and on drives to the basket, Poyser still needs work on his outside shot hitting just 6-19 from three. He has the ability to knock down several in a row, but a slight hitch in his jump shot prevented him from being a consistent marksman. With continued work on his outside shot, Poyser should have his name listed with the top shooting guards in the country.
George de Paula, Brazil, 6’4”, G
|De Paula's 7 foot wing span - HoopsHypeCA|
For a player that was not well known outside of his home country, George de Paula certainly made an impression on his short trip to Chicago. In his first game, de Paula exploded for 34 points on 15-21 shooting against the top team in the Challenge (USA West). Playing predominantly as the team’s point guard, the lefty consistently got into the lane for baskets around the rim and hit 3-6 from deep. De Paula plays with a powerful grace given his running back-esque upper body and was usually too strong for quicker defenders to handle. In addition to his strength, de Paula possessed freakishly long arms sporting a 7’0” wing span. He averaged 20.8 points per game and also displayed a nice passing ability at times from outside the arc hitting the Brazilian cutters in stride for easy lay-ups. He cooled off from three after his first game finishing just 5-21 from the arc while sometimes making his lefty stroke look more like a shot put. Even still, de Paula was always a presence on both ends of the floor. With good hops, de Paula was often seen grabbing rebounds and pushing the break in addition to providing defensive pressure on the ball. De Paula also has a certain fun fact. Thanks to an interview by HoopsHype CA, it came out that de Paula lived with Bruno Caboclo, the recent first round draft pick of the Toronto Raptors.
Chimezie Metu, Africa, 6’10”, C, Lawndale (CA), 2015
Just like AAU teammate Stephen Zimmerman, Chimezie Metu looked like a different player at the Challenge compared to his EYBL play with the Oakland Soldiers. Metu showed off his versatility throughout averaging 16 points and 9.8 rebounds per game for Pan-Africa while shooting 59% from the floor. He ran the floor well and displayed some ball-handling and shooting skills in the half court set. He had a few NBA scouts drooling after hitting a 17 foot fade-away, but Metu still needs to tighten up his shot mechanics. In each game Metu looked “free” and “loose” and given his size and length the future USC Trojan possesses a fair amount of upside.
Gao Shang, China, 6’5, SG/SF
Shang was almost as good as his teammate and International MVP Yuan Shuai. He shot 47.6% from behind the arc (10-21) and averaged 21.5 points per game to go with 5.5 rebounds. In the third place game, Shang stepped up his play and almost helped lead China to another upset scoring 24 points on 8-14 shooting. Not just a shooter, Shang was also a slasher and attacked the basket with aggressiveness and athleticism. He had his best game against Jaylen Brown’s squad finishing with 26 points and eight rebounds in an upset win.
Corey Johnson, Canada, 6’4”, SG, Vermont Academy, 2015
Armed with a jump shot straight out of a shooting video, Corey Johnson hit five three’s in the opening game of the Challenge. While he cooled off a bit after his initial outburst, Johnson finished the four day event shooting 38.5% from three (15-38). Right now Johnson is hearing from mid-majors along with schools such as Creighton and Virginia Tech but expect that to change come November with the arrival of the National Prep Showcase. He can hit three’s from a stand still position as well as off the dribble and has good size and strength for a shooting guard.
Lucas Vezaro, Brazil, 6’0”, G
It wasn’t a good first game for the Brazilian guard who went 1-12 from the field, but after getting the initial jitters out Verazo was a knock down shooter from deep. He then went 4-7, 3-7, and 4-10 from behind the arc. Not the quickest or most athletic of guards, Verazo consistently found open space from the left and right wings with the help of George Paula’s penetration. He averaged 17.3 points per game while shooting 39.3% from behind the arc.
Ted Kapita, Africa, 6’9”, PF, Huntington Prep (WV), 2015
Big man Ted Kapita started the Global Challenge with a bang, but ended with a whimper. At 6’8” and sporting a chiseled upper torso, Kapita dazzled the crowd and the NBA scouts with his professional ready body and output. In a close loss in Pan Africa’s opening game, Kapita finished with 36 points and 16 rebounds in an overtime loss on 15-22 shooting. He played with energy, led the break at times, threw down alley-oop dunks, and even scored on jump shots from 15 feet. After that performance, a lot was expected of Kapita going forward. Unfortunately, in subsequent games Kapita averaged 8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. He struggled with foul trouble and showed that he was still fairly raw on the offensive end. A good straight ahead runner, Kapita lacks fluidity at times and is not the quickest on his feet laterally. He still showed some glimpses on a spin move down the lane, but wasn’t able to regain his opening game magic. Kapita stood out for his basketball body, but he is still a raw talent with room to grow.
Lucas de Souza, 6’9”, PF, Brazil
De Souza is another long and lean stretch forward that was one of the key contributors for Brazil. He made an impression in his first game running the floor, stepping outside for deep jump shots, and being active on the defensive side of the floor. He averaged 10.5 points and almost seven rebounds a game throughout, but often played a bit out of control evidenced by his 13 turnovers. De Souza was quick off his feet and possessed a versatile skill-set; however he did not excel in any one single area. He hit a three in his first game but he shot with his right elbow out wide leading to a fair amount of jump shots off the rim. Overall, de Souza was fun to watch on both sides of the floor and has potential given his height, length, and athleticism but will need to work on his skill-set to become a more dominant player in the future.
Narcisse Kalamba, Canada, 6’6”, SF, Montreal, QC
Not to be confused with the Boardwalk Empire protagonist, Valentin Narcisse, the Canadian Narcisse Kalamba exhibited lots of potential over the four day span of the Global Challenge. A long and lanky wing, Kalamba was a blur on his drives to the basket and averaged 10.8 points per game. He excels in transition but is still a work in progress when it comes to his jump shot. He did hit several mid-range shots and four three pointers but shot under 44% from the floor and 23.5% from the arc. Kalamba still shoots more of a set shot than an actual jump shot and needs to work on locking in on his follow through given many of his misses were off to the left and the right. Kalamba has the athleticism and skill on the break, now he just needs additional work on his shooting mechanics in order to become the leader for next year’s Canadian team.
Yakwe Kassoum, Africa, 6’7”, Our Savior New American (NY), 2016
Long and lean, Kassoum was the most explosive foreign player given his strong two footed jumping ability. He averaged just 6.5 points per game, but was a menace on the defensive end whether it was blocking shots or pressuring the ball handler all over the court. Right now Kassoum has lots of unharnessed power, but is still raw on the offensive end. He has the size of a small forward, but lacks the offensive skills to play consistently outside the paint. He struggled mightily to dribble the ball on the break, but he could get into the paint on one or two dribbles in the half court set. Once he got in the paint he usually finished going to his left with a lay-up or jump hook. Either option wasn’t getting blocked given his leaping ability.