Hoop Summit: Josh Smith Delivers

<b>SAN ANTONIO –</b> Just when Josh Smith's stock was about to take a little dip after a series of so-so all-star game performances, the 6-8 wing led Team USA past a World Select squad 99-79 at the Hoop Summit in Texas.

USA's 99-79 victory over the World Select Team at the Hoop Summit was important on a number of fronts. First, the win moves the United States' overall record in the competition to 5-2. Secondly, an impressive showing by 6-8 wing forward Josh Smith, helped the standout in the eyes of the NBA contingent.

Smith, who made himself collegiately ineligible by playing in too many post-season games, was taking a public relations hit in his campaign to be a lottery pick. NBA scouts can be a ‘what have you done for me lately' bunch and the latest reviews of Smith were average at best. Then, on Sunday, he showed another part of his game.

Athletically, Smith has some freak in him, everyone knows that. Those in the know also were aware that he's a catch-and-shoot guy from downtown who can get streaky behind the arc. What they didn't know was that he was capable of going off the wing to the basket.

Obviously, some very wise sages counseled Josh recently on what he needed to do to elevate his stock once more. The advice from the inner circle was straightforward: time to prove you can take it to the rim from the wing and finish.

Against the World Team, Smith did that and more. He finished with 27 points on 12-for-18 shooting which included 3-of-6 from downtown. However, it was a series of big time drives that had be impressive to the NBA types. On one play, Smith drove baseline and threw down a nasty jam. To those in the crowd who had never seen him before, it might have been a big time athlete making a big time play. To those in the know, it was a big time athlete making a statement.

Afterward, Smith acknowledged that he was making a concerted effort to showcase his game. "I kind of took it upon myself to go the rack." He would go onto say that his aggressive play on the wing was "probably" the reason for his outstanding Hoop Summit effort.

Taking a page out of the Josh Smith novel was J.R. Smith (17 points). The 6-6 winger, also known more for his range and willingness to launch deep 3s, went to the hole himself.

It's no secret that J.R. has been looking into his NBA draft status like Josh Smith, scouts wondered about his ability to do other things beside fire deep 3s. Also like Josh, J.R. aggressively went to the hole on a few occasions and planted the seed. An athletic baseline drive and flush is sure to be etched in the minds of those who saw it.

In the cases of both Smiths, it was clear that they had heard the criticisms about their games and both took steps to prove that they could do certain things. They scored huge points though J.R. would still be best served rounding out his game on the college level.

While the Smiths showed the big leaguers they had more to their game, another serious question about Sebastian Telfair's candidacy for early entry was left unanswered. There is no doubt that the young man can pass the basketball, is speedy and has extraordinary court vision and awareness. There remains doubt that he can make jumpshots well enough to skip levels.

At the Hoop Summit, Telfair finished just 1-for-11 from the field and 1-for-3 from downtown. He did a nice job of running the team, showing leadership and passing the ball but questions remain about the jumper.

Rudy Gay (14 points) and Al Jefferson (13 points, 6 rebounds) were the other two members of the team to score in double digits. Though not a huge stat stuffer on the day, Malik Hairston contributed 4 offensive rebounds, a number of hustle plays and impressed with his versatility and hoops IQ. Hairston also showcased a fine defensive game and played with intensity at both ends.

NEWS & NOTES Luka Bogdanovic, a 6-10 forward out of Serbia, led the World team with 20 points and he made 3 3-pointers. … The inside word from the NBA guys was that the only college-bound members of the World Team were Tello Palacios and Churchill Odia.

Speaking of colleges, Ohio State, UCLA, Michigan and Kansas were represented in the chase for Malik Hairston. … Palacios drew the head coach from Florida State, a bevy of assistants from Baylor and Louisville and an assistant from Indiana. Baylor most certainly would have sent head coach Scott Drew but he recently became the father of a baby girl named McKenzie Kelly.

An informal poll of observers revealed the Mike Williams was the hardest worker in the practices leading up to the game. … ESPN sent around a cameraman following Telfair. …

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