Global Challenge: Day One Rundown

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Nike Global Challenge tipped off on Friday and DeMarcus Cousin, John Henson and DeShaun Thomas all put together big efforts on day one. Although it shouldn't be surprising to hear those names excelled, it was surprising to see one of the USA teams fall in the opening round.

In just their second year of putting together the Global Challenge, Nike managed to bring in some quality international opponents to face off against a trio of USA teams. The format consists of the eight teams facing off in tournament play and that began from the onset of the event.

During the first contest of the day USA Team #1 took on Senegal, and despite predictions of a blow out by many, the Senegal team gave the USA squad all they could handle, as Aziz N'Diaye dominated the paint defensively and was a physical presence inside. Down the stretch, DeMarcus Cousins was the answer for the USA team and they managed to pull off an 81-68 win.

The second match up was a contest that paired two international teams. Canada, which does have a handful of guys that will be eligibly to play college ball in the United States, knocked off Lithonia 83-78, behind a strong efforts from Marvin Binney, a 6-foot-1 PG, and Alwayne Bigby, who went 5-for-6 from the field and scored 14 points in the win.

The most competitive game of the day was the Serbia/USA Team #3 match up. With the USA team winning virtually the entire game, Serbia went on a surge in the last 2 minutes and pulled out a one-point victory. Serbia fed off of the energy of Nikolva Markovic, a 6-foot-8 active forward, and 7-foot Dujan Musli, who scored 14 points. DeShaun Thomas and John Wall led the USA team in scoring and the two combined for 40 points.

In the final game of the day USA Team #2 squared off against Puerto Rico. Cortes Cintron put together a big effort of 27 points (on 10-for-19 shooting) for P.R., but it wasn't nearly enough as the USA squad won by a score of 81-72. Avery Bradley put together a great game on both ends of the floor, while John Henson flirted with a triple-double and caused havoc on the defensive end.

DeMarcus Cousins, C, USA Team #1 – When the USA squad needed a bucket, Cousins was usually the guy that stepped up and provided it. With their contest against Senegal close throughout, Cousins made a number of big plays and helped the USA team breakaway in crunch time. During the first half he hung out on the perimeter a little too much, but knocked down a pair of three-pointers. Once the second half hit, he got more physical inside, scored off a variety of post moves and was virtually unstoppable on the block. Cousins finished 9-for-12 from the field on his way to 26 points.

Roger Franklin, SF, USA Team #1 – Mr. Consistency put together a solid effort in game one. The 6-foot-5 wing went 7-for-10 from the field and scored 16 points. Most of his buckets were off of mid-range pull-up jumpers, but he also mixed in some finishes at the rim.

Tommy Mason-Griffin, PG, USA Team #1 – In the first half against Senegal the T.M.G. that had been so impressive throughout July didn't show up, as he turned it over and looked a little lost at times. The future Sooner certainly made a change as he was much more poised and was able to knock down shots in the second frame. He finished with 13 points, four assists and four turnovers.

John Wall, PG, USA Team #3 – The Lithonia team ended up getting the win, but the speed and athleticism of John Wall certainly gave them a heck of a test. Offensively he advanced the ball as fast as possible and had a number of finishes around the rim. On the other end, he recorded four steals and caused problems for the Lithonia guards. He finished 8-for-15 from the field on his way to 18 points.

Gary Franklin, PG, USA Team #3 – Down the stretch, Franklin hit some big three-pointers for the USA squad, but it wasn't enough to keep them in the winners bracket. The 6-foot guard finished 4-for-8 from the three, scoring 12 points overall. To go with the damage he did from long range, the Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei standout hit the glass hard, finishing with eight rebounds.

John Henson, PF, USA Team #2 – His evolution as a basketball player has been a joy to watch. This time last year he was known as a quality prospect with a high upside, now he's grown into a dominating presence with the potential to possibly play in the NBA. Around the rim he uses his length to swat shots and he seemed to contest every shot attempt around the basket, which led to nine blocks. On the offensive end he displayed impressive touch at the rim, knocked down a three-pointer and hit a floater in the lane. He finished with 11 and nine rebounds for the game.

Jordan Hamilton, SF, USA Team #2 – The talented 6-foot-7 wing seemed to be pressing a little, especially early on, but once he settled down and got in a groove he looked like the prospect he has during the spring and summer. To go with his 14 points, Hamilton made an effort to get on the glass, as he corralled a game high 15 rebounds. There aren't many wings in the 2009 class that can score like Hamilton, as he's crafty, is consistent from 22 feet and can make adjustments at the rim.

Avery Bradley, SG, USA Team #2 – From a shooting standpoint, Bradley was one of the more efficient players of the day. Against Puerto Rico he shot 8-for-10 from the field and scored 18 points. Bradley, a 6-foot-2 guard, shot it well from mid-range, attacked the rim and had the dunk of the day when he drove baseline and threw down a one-handed slam on a Puerto Rican defender. However, it wasn't just the offensive that caught our attention, Bradley's on the ball defense was nothing short of stellar, as the Puerto Rico guards struggled against his ball pressure.

DeShaun Thomas, PF, USA Team #3 – With John Wall flying up and down the court, Thomas, a 6-foot-7 face up four man, managed to work in plenty of buckets around the rim and was often times on the receiving end of passes from Wall in the open court. Thomas is extremely efficient in the paint and knows how to score when he gets it within 15-feet. Although he didn't knock down any three-pointers, which he is capable of doing, he did face up a defender and hit a 18-footer. Thomas led his team with 22 points on 11-for-18 shooting from the field. He also recorded six rebounds.

Rodney Williams opted to not give a list of schools. He said the plan is for him to return home from the Global Challenge, sit down with his family and hash out a final list.

Cory Joseph, who will be at Findlay Prep this coming season, said he's already heard from a bunch of colleges. He mentioned Kansas, Minnesota, St. John's, Texas, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, UNLV, Memphis and Kentucky.

Aziz N'Diaye, of the Senegal team, was extremely impressive against USA Team #1. He received some good buzz last year, before ending up at Lake Forest Academy. Next year he'll head to College of Southern Idaho, where he potentially could get a lot of strong looks from college coaches. He's a strong, active big man that is a defensive presence.


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