Our 2023 Nike Hoop Summit World Wishlist

Nike and USA Basketball announced that the upcoming Nike Hoop Summit would finally add a second game for the top women in the United States and around the world in the same format that men have played for years. Recruiting is covered in enough depth for American players that there will be plenty of opinions on which players heading to college next season are most deserving of this historic honor. On the World side, there are plenty of players who could get the call.

This event is a major step in the right direction after the pandemic halted the momentum of similar events. The Jr. NBA Championship focused on much younger players and had its share of flaws, but it had been a very organized event with plenty of available information for fans and as those players from the first tournaments are approaching an age where their career paths are clearer, it is impressive how many notable players were participating. Hosting a public event for players who are more at a recruitment-relevant age at the 2019 Final Four was an excellent idea that will hopefully be repeated in the coming years. With just one event with variable levels of access to top players around the world, there were still multiple players who have gone on to contribute at a high level in college like Georgia Amoore, Aaliyah Edwards, Yvonne Ejim, and clear event MVP Nika Muhl.

The exact eligibility rules will have to be decided by the event organizers, but this list will include players who were born in 2004 and 2005 as a separate article for possible international player selections in the 2023 Draft will be published later in the season. It is possible that there are American players with ties to other countries that get invited to the World roster, but this list will focus on players who have already represented national teams besides the United States or are not American. Geopolitical considerations mean that one notable prospect will not be included due how unrealistic it would be for her to participate and players expected to still be injured at the time of the event will not be listed, but shoe deal or potential club schedule conflicts are not a factor. Unfortunately, the player that the organizers probably had at the top of their realistic wishlist quickly went out of consideration as Cassandre Prosper is heading to Notre Dame this winter instead of in the summer or fall.

Isobel Borlase, SG, Australia, Adelaide Lightning, 2004 Born

The young player with the biggest emergence so far this season in Australia’s WNBL, Borlase has shown an impressive scoring touch at this age and plenty of fearlessness in challenging more seasoned defenders and being comfortable with taking the lead on possessions even in close games. Getting to see her with and against players closer to her age plus practice time that presumably at least media will be able to watch would provide more of a glimpse of what she can offer in the future, especially with her opponents making more adjustments that will force her to shoot more from distance.

Nyadiew Puoch, SF, Australia, Southside Flyers, 2004 Born

The 2004 generation in Australia looks set to be one of the better ones in recent memory when it comes to number of players who will be somewhere on draft boards in their year of availability as internationals. Puoch has certainly shown flashes of what she might be able to do and has all of the tools necessary to be an impact player at the next level. From a development perspective, she is getting some of the benefits of getting eased into the national league scene while still having a consistent spot in the rotation. A short, but intense period with talented players her age could give a clearer indication of how far along she is overall right now.

Elena Buenavida, SG, Spain, Valencia, 2004 Born

If everything had gone according to plan, Buenavida would certainly not have been available for this event. Long interested in the college path, she was set to play with UCLA starting this season only to have it fall through late. The memorable game of her summer was a big scoring output in a loss at the U18 European final and then she returned to club play in Spain. Valencia has hoarded young talents in recent seasons as she is hardly the only player there who will get considerations for this event and the ability to get them additional minutes at the second division level with Paterna should continue to pay off in the coming years. In the long run, there is some expectation that she will shift down to point guard as a primary position, but that may not be fully seen for some time.

Matilde Villa, PG, Italy, Reyer Venezia, 2004 Born

A relentless slasher, Villa has had plenty of responsibility at the club level as she is now in her fourth season of being an important player for a team in the top division in Italy. The move to a team with expectations this season has meant that she does not have the freedom she did in past seasons, but her ability to run an offense and pass to more established teammates has been key in understanding her transition from precocious scorer to modern point guard. Last summer, she was also able to display plenty at the youth national team level and there is still a path for her to make a global impact in the coming year along with her established national potential.

Leila Lacan, PG, France, Angers, 2004 Born

It seems rather fashionable for good players of any height to aspire to play point guard these days, but Lacan is a taller guard who truly seems cut out to be labeled as one going forward. Although she certainly took on a bigger scoring role on teams where she was the key player, she has shown playmaking prowess every time that she has been on the floor with talented teammates. Her debut in the top division in France this season has featured some of that scoring again given that she is teammates with a very prolific passer, but scoring in that step up might actually be more impressive. Getting the team on the same page in a short amount of time in this format is difficult so organizers will certainly be prioritizing lining up the right floor general.

Maimouna Haidara, PF, Mali, Adareva (Spain), 2004 Born

After doing a lot of everything to get Mali Africa’s U18 crown, Haidara got some exposure to a much higher level of play when she got new responsibilities on the senior team in the World Cup where she did her best to make an impression. After that, she joined a new club team in the Canary Islands, a place whose teams have a long history of bringing in good young players from around the world, making her one of many candidates for this event among players living there. She has had a solid season so far in Spain’s second division, which is a pretty strong level of competition, and part of the question long term will be whether she can effectively play both forward positions.

Toby Fournier, PF, Canada, Crestwood Prep, 2005 Born

Canadians have been an important piece of the World team reducing the dominance displayed by the United States in the early history of this event, but there now looks to be one main star in Fournier that will be targeted as a big name for the first women’s game. Missing her Canada running mate, it will definitely be a different international experience than her busy youth national team summer, but after they played the United States tough at the U18 level, there is plenty of time for excitement about that next year. Her natural athleticism has certainly caused people to take notice of some of the things that she can do on the court, but any high level event she can attend will be a big way to showcase her development in other areas and what position she can play in at the next level.

Juste Jocyte, SF, Lithuania, Lyon (France), 2005 Born

The name that people would have included on this wishlist for multiple years now, the ability to draw Jocyte back to the country of her birth would be a big early sign of credibility for this event. The literal WNBA rules being what they are, this type of event might be only time that she can be seen in the United States for quite a few years. She has made quite a splash at all age groups at the national team level for Lithuania, but even with increasing playing time since heading to France at the club level, she still has to defer to more established teammates. An environment where she can demonstrate her advanced scoring and playmaking skills without also being asked to carry the team would be a great showcase for her.

Dominique Malonga, C, France, Lyon, 2005 Born

Certainly a name that fans who were not already familiar with that they had a chance to learn this year, Malonga had been flying under the radar a bit despite being an unquestioned top talent within her age group. Part of that lack of attention is due having to wait until this season to get some sustained playing time at the club level as her team has plenty of ambitions, but she has consistently demonstrated her talent in comparison to her peers during summers of youth national team play. While the dunking certainly commanded attention, the story is the base of athleticism that those growing offensive and defensive skills are being built on every day.

Ajsa Sivka, PF, Slovenia, Schio (Italy), 2005 Born

Tony Parker was just hoovering up top international prospects from this birth year last season at Lyon, but Sivka had her own spotlight last summer with her youth national team where her ability to do a little big of everything made it clear why people are excited about her future. She moved to Italy this season knowing that garbage time minutes will be her main playing time to prepare for a bigger role in coming seasons. Compared to other players on this list who will be playing rotation minutes on teams in key stretches of their seasons at the time of this event, her availability certainly increases the likelihood that an invitation would be accepted.

Annika Soltau, SF, Germany, Keltern, 2005 Born

Slightly more hidden than a lot of the other players on this list, Soltau only led the whole competition in scoring average when she showed up at the U17 World Championships in the summer. She returned to the German second division to start the club season, but recently made a big move to a strong team in the top tier. Participating in this event would be very helpful in making some determination of whether her long-term vision aligns with realistic position aspirations. She has been playing as a do-everything forward with a preference for being a small forward, but she certainly has the height and toughness to effectively play as a power forward naturally while situationally playing center.

Elina Aarnisalo, SG, Finland, Helsinki Basketball Academy, 2005 Born

The Helsinki Basketball Academy has given quality training to a number of young Finnish players while offering them significant competition in the country’s top division, facing teams with as many as three Americans and holding their own. Aarnisalo is their next showpiece player and is given plenty of opportunities to show everything that she can do as a result and should she stay there next year, there is a good chance for her to be the primary ballhander as well. She had been rising in global awareness over the past two summers at the youth national team level, but her two performances for the senior national team in tough qualifiers last month show that she deserves a bigger stage right now.

Faith Ehi Etute, PF, Luxembourg, Diddeleng, 2005 Born

The group of international players born in 2005 is quite talented and new players seem to make names for themselves from that group all the time. Over the summer, Ehi Etute was one of the new names to emerge from the youth national team scene for a country with not too much basketball tradition. She did not slow down when the club season rolled around, but the biggest impression that she made was for the senior national team in November when she made an argument that she was already the best player as they won a big game against Switzerland to show that they are no longer just a pushover. Having missed out on the last global prospect event, this would certainly be a great platform to showcase herself.

Letycia Vasconcelos, C, Brazil, IMG Academy (FL), Baylor signee

A consistent aspect of the World roster for this event is being able to bring in players who have tremendous potential, but have not been able to show at much in other formats. Vasconcelos is certainly an emerging player in her last high school season after having plenty of colleges to choose from in her recruiting battle. All of this comes after a summer where she did not get to see much court time for her youth national team. At her height, it would be no surprise for her to still be progressing rapidly and she definitely has the raw tools to be tough at the college level and establish a career beyond that.

Jana El Alfy, C, Egypt, Al Ahly, Connecticut signee

A player who has commanded attention every time that she has shown up on the international stage, El Alfy did occasionally spend long stretches out of the spotlight. For all the advancements that the league in Egypt has made towards offering strong competition, with a number of teams able to bring in talented foreigners, providing useful coverage to those outside of the country has not been in their plans. She is known to be a contributor for a strong club, but where her skills have been evident every time is at the youth national team level as she has taken on the burden of elevating the team to new heights. There has been plenty to read about her recruitment as her preference for the college path has been clear for a while and there is certainly some excitement about seeing what role her strengths are put towards in a situation where she is not the only key player.

Dominika Paurova, SF, Czech Republic, DME Academy (FL), Minnesota signee

Youth club decisions are always tough with local teams, bigger teams in the same country, and clubs in other countries for top prospects providing many options. For Paurova, a solid debut at the top division in her home country led to her choosing the high school in the United States route. It is hard to say that has not paid off as each summer back home has seen her impact at the youth national team level grow and her reputation increase. Having already settled on the college route as well, another global recognition could be on its way.

Crystal Wang, SF, China, Sierra Canyon (CA), Northwestern signee

While obviously not the player on her high school team who will get the most enthusiastic invitation to this game, Wang is certainly the kind of player who would benefit from the different level of attention at this sort of event. There is a constant debate within the Chinese basketball ecosystem about how exactly youth development should be handled and she is the most prominent example on the girls’ side of a belief that getting talented young players into the American school system as early as possible is a good idea. For her, having talented teammates while still having an important role on the team has been beneficial even if it is not quite the same stage as youth national team or high level club league play.

Maia Jones, SG, New Zealand, Mainland Pouakai, St. Mary’s signee

There are plenty of different goals for events like this and being able to bring in players from a variety of countries, including places where basketball is still an emerging sport, has always been part of the long term objectives. New Zealand has put in a lot of effort in recent years to provide a more equitable experience for women to pursue the game locally and Jones played a few games in their new league to get more experience besides youth national team, school, and lower quality club play. She next heads to college as that continues to be the main development option.

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