Worth the drive
Once Aaron Gordon announced he would play for the Arizona Wildcats earlier this month, Jeff Englestadter forked over $50 for courtside seats to Saturday's Hoop Summit game for himself and daughter Eliyse.
That wasn't the only sacrifice he made. He also had to make the five-hour drive from Klamath Falls, Ore., just to get to Portland.
It was typical behavior for Englestadter, who started watching Arizona play in the early 1990s with a friend.
"Ever since then we've been fans," he said.
Since then, he's made several trips to Tucson to watch UA, while also catching the Wildcats when they play in Oregon along with a group of 20 Klamath Falls fans who routinely travel to the games together.
While Englestadter didn't make the trip to Eugene, Ore., last season that was probably just as well. The Wildcats suffered their first loss of the season, and one of his friends watched as fans stormed the floor at Matthew Knight Arena.
"He said, 'That's OK. They storm the floor. At Arizona, we hang banners.' " Englestadter said.
Rose City Wildcats
About a dozen members of the RoseCityCats, the Portland area UA alumni group, were on hand for Saturday's game at the Rose Garden.
That's hardly a surprise, considering how active the group is during the regular season. Chapter president Brad Rankin said he chartered two buses full of alums to attend the Jan. 12 game in Corvallis against Oregon State, with one fairly recognizable member on board.
"Isaiah Fox came down with us," Rankin said of the former Wildcat big man.
Rankin said the chapter also stays involved with former UA standout Channing Frye and his annual "Kick for Kids" event. Frye, who played two seasons for the Trail Blazers and spends summers in Portland, hosts the kickball tournament to raise funds for childhood cancers.
French forward Livio Jean-Charles spoke in slightly limited English during a postgame interview Saturday, but said all he probably needed to.
"We shared the ball, played together," Jean-Charles said. "That's cool. We had good chemistry."
The World team had 11 players from 10 different countries, taking Monday to Friday to assemble a team under Canadian coach Roy Rana.
Some of it just came naturally.
"Probably the most impressive thing was the way we've shared the ball from the very first practice," Rana said. "The kids were just phenomenal to coach. Like I told them in the locker room, it is certainly going to be one of my more memorable coaching experiences, just because of the quality of kids we've had here this week."
Even off the floor, UA signee Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had a chance to impress NBA scouts this week. He recorded a wingspan of 7 feet 1 inch on his 6-foot-6 1/2 frame (with shoes) in official measurements released by USA Basketball.
Jefferson also weighed in at 212 pounds, the same as the virtually fat-free Gordon, who measured 6-9 with shoes.
The big number
Sets of brothers to play for the USA in the Hoop Summit game: Drew (2008) and Aaron (2013) Gordon, JaRon (1998) and Brandon (2005) Rush, and Andrew and Aaron Harrison (both 2103).
Although they were all lumped together on the World team, the international players at the Hoop Summit were able to represent their own countries.
On the front jersey of each World player was the name and flag of the country he came from.
Before the game, in the spirit of international play, the players exchanged gifts at the midcourt line.
Predictably, those gifts were Nike hats.
"I think this speaks to the growth of the game globally at the youth level"
- Roy Rana, Canadian coach of the World team, which won its second straight Hoop Summit game for the first time ever.