Great point guards on display
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The first practice for Wednesday's McDonald's All-American Game got underway Monday morning. The 24 high school all-stars took the floor and didn't disappoint. Here's what we learned at the week's first practice session.
Matchup mayhemThese were my favor matchups to observe at this first practice.
Josh Selby (Baltimore/Lake Clifton) versus Joe Jackson (Memphis/White Station): Who doesn't like watching great point guard play? These two, surely, are among the nation's finest. Both Jackson and Selby are high-energy, explosive scoring guards. With their aggressive styles, it was no surprise that they went right at each other on Monday. They're both capable of scoring a lot of points on consecutive possessions and each creates his own shot with ease.
Ray McCallum (Detroit/Country Day) versus Keith Appling (Detroit/Pershing): These two Michigan products are familiar foes. McCallum is like a coach on the floor. His great hoops IQ should come as little surprise considering that he is a coach's son. Appling is very similar to Selby. He's constantly trying to find creative ways to score. This aggressive guard could put up monster numbers during Wednesday's game and as a potential go-to offensive option at Michigan State.
Harrison Barnes (Ames, Iowa) versus Jereme Richmond (Waukegan, Ill.): These two smooth, skilled wings went at it during the regular season, with Barnes and Ames coming out on top. Once again, these are two similar players with great size and the ability to post up and play on the perimeter. Both also are skilled passers. In a year dominated by elite wing play, Barnes and Richmond are two of the nation's finest perimeter prospects.
Kyrie Irving (Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick) versus Kendall Marshall (Dumfries, Va./Bishop O'Connell): This is a showdown of future ACC lead guards -- Irving's bound for Duke, Marshall will play at UNC. Marshall is the best passer in high school basketball, and he had no trouble putting his teammates in positions to succeed on Monday. Irving is an all-around threat. He can do whatever is necessary to help the team -- set up guys or score.
• I'm hearing that Bob Huggins and West Virginia are making a late push for Doron Lamb (New York/Oak Hill). Huggins and his assistants are likely selling Lamb on all the success New York products, such as Devin Ebanks and Kevin Jones, have had with the Mountaineers.
• It was a tough weekend for Kentucky, with the Wildcats falling a win short of the Final Four. However, there could be some good news on the horizon for UK fans. The buzz around Columbus is that Brandon Knight is feeling good about the Cats, and he's hardly the only one. Terrence Jones (Portland/Jefferson), Lamb, CJ Leslie (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) and Selby also have UK on their lists.
• With the graduation of Sherron Collins, Kansas coaches are hoping Selby, whose game is similar to that of Collins, will be their next playmaking point guard.
• Jared Sullinger's power in the lane continues to impress me. It's also worth noting that Sullinger (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) has more skill and versatility than he gets credit for.
• The most impressive motor in the gym belonged to Leslie. He's active, runs the floor and rebounds above the rim. He is a highlight waiting to happen in transition.
• It may not have had a similar impact on the players, who are too young to remember his playing days, but my jaw dropped when Larry Bird walked into today's practice. With this much talent on the floor, you never know who will show up.
Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton. He played at Ohio University from 1986-90 and was an All-MAC first-teamer his senior season.