To kick off the 2022 Nike Hoop Summit on Friday night, the full Team USA and World Team roster was read. While the names include many future NCAA Division 1 stars, the Moda Center crowd mostly cheered politely as there was little local connection.
But Kel’el Ware’s name was met with a big reaction from the crowd. The North Little Rock, Arkansas elder smiled brightly as he stood up and was greeted with a friendly nudge from a teammate.
The seven-footer will soon call Oregon home as he plays for Dana Altman and the Oregon Ducks next season.
At the Nike Hoop Summit, Ware was able to show off her abilities to her future fans. He finished the game with 11 points, five rebounds and one steal in 18 minutes played. He threw some killer dunks and showed his reach with a deep two-pointer and a three-pointer.
Team USA defeated Team World Select 102-80.
After the match, Ware entered the press conference room without shoes. On the team’s way to the locker room, Ware was stopped by fans and signed for his shoes to be given away.
Even two hours north of his future home in Eugene, Ware said he was greeted by fans left and right on Friday. He said it was a great welcome.
“I’m pretty grateful that I came today,” Ware said. “Even just outside there were quite a few fans. So I know once I step into the arena, I know it’s going to be so much more. Playing for them and playing for Oregon is going to be great.
The Ducks finished the 2021-22 season with a 20-15 record. They qualified for the National Invitational Tournament, where they defeated Utah State in the first round before seeing their season end by Texas A&M.
Although he is seven feet tall, Ware said he would be able to play an all-around game for Oregon next season.
“Everything. I like to do everything,” Ware said of his ability to stretch the floor. With his shot on Friday, he made sure to back it up.
Ware wasn’t the only player with a local connection to take part in Friday’s Hoop Summit. The World Select featured Omaha Biliew and Felix Okpara. Neither player will play college basketball in Oregon (Okpara is committed to Ohio State and Biliew is undecided with a roster that includes Kansas, Nebraska and Ohio State). Oklahoma), but both players were in the metro area in December to play in the Les Schwab Invitational as part of Link Academy.
The Lions cruised through the field of Oregon teams at the Les Schwab Invitational, last defeating OSAA 6A State Champion Tualatin in the Finals.
“It feels like home,” Biliew said with a laugh.
Biliew hasn’t spent much time in the area, but said visiting the Nike campus was a great experience. He said his favorite part was seeing the LeBron James Innovation Center, which houses the
“Just to be around that, you know, know its greatness. To be surrounded by a wonderful human being who has sacrificed a lot to put people in a position to succeed.