Three American players widely considered top-10 prospects were left off the roster for the 2019 Nike Hoop Summit announced by USA Basketball on Thursday.
Anthony Edwards (No. 5), Jaden McDaniels (No. 6) and Kahlil Whitney (No. 9) were among those who didn't make the team. Isaac Okoro (No. 40 in the ESPN 100), Justin Moore (No. 51) and De'Vion Harmon (No. 53) join a roster full of top-20 recruits who are more highly regarded by NBA scouts.
Scouts likely would have preferred to evaluate the three projected lottery picks in this setting.
A USA Basketball official told ESPN that the organization tends to prioritize players who have built up equity in its system by attending various training camps over the years and spending summers playing for the national team. Edwards passing on USA Basketball training camp invites in October and June played a role in him not being selected for the Hoop Summit, according to the official. McDaniels, Edwards and Whitney all struggling at the prestigious Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts, last month likely didn't help either.
Okoro, Harmon, Wendell Moore and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl were all excellent role players for the U17 and U18 USA teams over the summer, playing a defense-oriented, unselfish style valued by USA Basketball. After being blown out in last year's Hoop Summit in somewhat embarrassing fashion -- the fourth loss in seven years to the World Team -- USA Basketball appears to be invested in adding motivated, versatile defenders who don't need the ball to be more competitive. A similar strategy was used for the 2016 team, which went on to set a record for largest winning margin at the event with a 34-point victory.
With this year's group, USA Basketball has three physically dominant big men in James Wiseman, Vernon Cary Jr. and Isaiah Stewart who should be able to punish the World Team inside, crash the offensive glass and outmuscle the international players. Cole Anthony brings unabashed scoring prowess, Matthew Hurt has deep perimeter shooting range, and both Tyrese Maxey and Scottie Lewis carry the type of athleticism and defensive physicality in the backcourt that the team was lacking last year.
The World Team roster is still being finalized and will likely be announced in early April.