- Antonio Williams, Basketball Recruiting
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MILWAUKEE -- In addition to an early morning practice, the East and West squads also competed in an intra-squad scrimmage Tuesday. The first half of the scrimmage saw the East jump on the West using defense to hound it into bad shots which they generally did not convert. The East also utilized its inside game in pounding the West.
In the second half, the West ratcheted up its intensity, which helped to greatly improve its second half performance. The West became the aggressor, giving the East a dose of its own medicine by jumping out early on the East through strong guard play. However, the East managed to weather the storm and made a run of their own and made the second half much more enjoyable to watch.
Ed Davis (North Carolina) missed Tuesday's action due to illness but is expected to play in the game Wednesday.
6-9 C Samardo Samuels (Louisville): Samuels imposed his will on this scrimmage from the outset, using his impressive frame to establish position in the paint to score. He also rebounded the ball well, in particular on the offensive glass. Samuels also displayed good footwork in the low-post and mid-post areas.
6-9 PF JaMychal Green (Alabama): Green again used his seemingly never-ending energy to positively affect the game for his club. He ran the floor like a gazelle and crashed the boards on both ends. Green also started to contest shots during the scrimmage.
6-5 SG William Buford (Ohio State): Buford brought his hot-shooting touch from the day's earlier practice with him to the scrimmage, connecting on a number of jump shots. He continued to master looking for his scoring opportunities within the context of his team's offense.
6-2 G Mike Rosario (Rutgers): Rosario hit a number of open jumpers when he played off the ball on offense. If Rosario has a point guard who will penetrate and dish, he fills it up from the perimeter. Rosario also does a good job of sneaking in the paint and stealing offensive rebounds from the tall trees through hustle, not leaping ability.
6-6 SG Tyreke Evans (undecided): Evans has to add a jab-step or some scoring ability out of triple-threat position. Evans has to improve his ability to set himself up for scoring without wasting his dribble. He can score the ball but needs to exercise better shot selection.
6-9 PF Chris Singleton (Florida State): Singleton displayed a rather surprising ability to connect from the perimeter with range extending out to the 3-point line.
7-0 C Tyler Zeller (North Carolina): No other big man in this class runs the floor like Zeller. He must continue to get stronger, finish at the rim in traffic better and develop his back-to-the-basket moves.
6-4 combo guard Elliot Williams (Duke): Williams struggled with his jump shot during the scrimmage due in large part to his shot selection. He opted to take shots as opposed to initiating the offense when he spent time at the point. Williams also over-dribbled at times and got himself into trouble.
6-1 PG Brandon Jennings (Arizona): Jennings in the open court presents endless problems for the defense. He has more foot speed with the ball than most guards have without the ball. His passing skills and vision came to the forefront again. Jennings correctly assumed the scoring load when his team needed him.
6-4 combo guard Jrue Holiday (UCLA): Holiday's skills off the bounce make him nearly impossible to guard. He penetrated to the rim and comfortably lays the ball in the basket after making adjustments mid-air, despite the fact he is right-handed. Holiday also plays great defense and competes at a very high level.
6-4 combo guard Willie Warren (Oklahoma): Warren displayed impressive athleticism on dunks and even played some pressure defense at times. He can use his body and quick first step to get into the lane, absorb contact and still finish. Warren can score in a variety of ways, but his shot selection issues plagued him as well.
6-10 center Michael Dunigan (Oregon): Dunigan finally exhibited All-American level intensity and grit. He ran the court and rebounded like a madman on the offensive glass. He also contested shots, making himself a presence on the defensive end as he should given his frame and athleticism.
6-8 PF Luke Babbitt (Nevada): Babbitt employs a business-like approach when he takes the court. He finished around the rim effectively and plays hard though he may not outwardly show emotions.
6-0 PG Larry Drew II (North Carolina): Drew has impressive passing skills and a high basketball IQ. However, he tends to over-dribble in his efforts to set up teammates and passes up open shots for himself, which ends up hurting his team at times.
6-4 SG Malcolm Lee (UCLA): Though thin now, Lee has broad shoulders, relatively long arms, and quick feet. He made use of all of these tools to pester opposing guards on the perimeter. He could develop into a real defensive presence at UCLA.
7-1 C B.J. Mullens (Ohio State): Mullens displayed his ability to step away from the basket and connect on jumpers from 3-point range. He needs to establish himself as the commanding presence that his ability will allow him to develop into.
6-6 SF Demar DeRozan (USC): Though blessed with a very developed body and astounding athleticism, DeRozan has to improve his ball-handling and jump shooting to realize his vast potential.
Players started to really exert their personalities during the third day of practice with particularly strong performances and establishment of leadership for their squads.
Green played with an unbelievable amount of energy during practice. He pounded the glass for rebounds with ferocity, especially on the offensive end. Green has very explosive leaping ability and gets off the ground very quickly, which helps him on the boards. He also runs the court very well, easily getting out in transition with intentions of finishing the break with an emphatic dunk. Green has to continue to play with this increased amount of intensity on a more consistent basis, on both ends of the court, as he prepares for the next level.
Buford shot the ball from the perimeter with great consistency and confidence in practice. He has a very smooth release and pinpoint accuracy, not needing much room or time to get off his shot. Buford's team did a better job of locating him and getting Buford the ball, which resulted in him converting with the spot-up jumper most of the time. To his credit, Buford does not hunt down shots or force offense, preferring to allow the game to come to him.
At times Evans really dug in on defensive, using his length, quick feet and strength to harass opposing guards into mistakes. As he continues to grow into his frame, he could develop into a defensive menace, but he does not display this effort on defense nearly enough. On offense, he spent some time "initiating" the offense from the point. He likes to command a pick from a big, only using the screen to get to the basket for his own shot, rarely attempting to find the rolling big for a lay-up. Evans can score with anyone, but he has to do a better job involving his teammates and improve his jump shot and ball-handling skills.
The East team installed offensive sets that allow Rosario to come off of screens to free him up for his lethal jump shot, and he responded accordingly with a nice shooting performance in practice. Rosario has a very nice follow-through on his shot and squares his body to the basket effectively while not having a lot of wasted motion in his jumper. He clearly looks more comfortable playing off the ball, using screens to free himself for long-range jumpers.
When he decides to establish himself, Mullens becomes the most dominant force in the Class of 2008. For two or three consecutive possessions during practice, Mullens set his mind on becoming that dominant force and easily accomplished that task. He used his body to establish deep post position, performed a definitive drop-step move smoothly and finished with a dunk in traffic. While carving out position, he became more demonstrative and demanded the ball. If Mullens displays this type of passion more often, he could develop into the top prospect from this class.
Holiday ranks as the ultimate glue-guy for his team. He does anything and everything necessary for his club to win. If his team needs a bucket, he will find a way to score, either pulling up for a mid-range jumper or going all the way to the basket, utilizing his impressive ability to finish at the rim effectively with either hand. He also rebounds very well from the guard spot. Holiday did all of this while sometimes defending the electric Brandon Jennings in practice. Most effort, glue-guy types do not come in "elite prospect" wrapping, but Holiday classifies as an effort player with supreme talent.
Jennings again provided the gas for his team's engine. This time, he displayed a nice understanding of the pick-and-roll game, which college teams employ more and more now. He quickly processes if he should pass or continue driving to the basket with the ball. He needs to rub off the screen a little closer when in pick-and-roll situations, which will make even more effective in the pick-and-roll game. Jennings' vision and passing skills off the pick sometimes surprised his teammates when he hit them with nice passes.
Antonio Williams is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. He previously worked as an NBA scout for Marty Blake Associates.