SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Atlanta Celtics (Ga.) shooting guard Jordan Usher wants to play in the NBA; so does Team Loaded (N.C.) forward Brandon Huffman, Game Elite (Ga.) guard Darius Perry and the hundreds of other players lacing ’em up at the adidas Finals at the Upward Star Center this week.
But with a record-setting 14 of the 30 first round picks in last month’s NBA Draft being foreign born, elite high school stars are beginning to realize that accomplishing their ultimate goal is only getting more difficult.
In total, 26 of the 60 players drafted were foreign.
“We just look at the rankings and see 100 guys from all the different states around the country,” Usher said. “We don’t even think about all of the players working as hard or harder than us overseas. It’s an eye-opener for sure.”
MORE FROM ADIDAS FINALS: Nick Weatherspoon motivated by lack of national respect
Usher, Perry and Huffman experienced the talent overseas firsthand, competing in the adidas Eurocamp in Italy last month.
Team USA, comprised of 11 of the top players on the adidas Gauntlet, went 0-3.
“It definitely gave me a greater appreciation for their game,” Huffman said of playing in Italy. “They play really fundamentally sound and they do things that a lot of American players won’t do. I learned a lot.”
The biggest lesson Perry learned on the Italian tour?
Value the ball.
“They made us pay for every turnover,” Perry said. “That and they play really physical over there. People think they’re style is soft but it’s more physical over there. The whole experience just made me want to work harder.”
Therein lies the answer to how Usher said elite players should react to the growing number of foreign players being drafted every year.
“It’s the best of the best in the NBA, and not just in this country,” Usher said. “The only thing you can do is work harder. There’s no other way to handle that. I feel like that’s a good thing though because it’ll only make everyone raise their games. Take stuff you learn and build on it.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY