- Reggie Rankin, RecruitingNation
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Here's a look at the most intriguing matchups to watch during the 2010 Jordan Brand Classic. The contest takes place Saturday, April 17 (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET).
Reggie Bullock versus Will Barton
The potential matchup of Reggie Bullock (Kinston, N.C.) and Will Barton (Baltimore/Brewster Academy) is intriguing as it would pit two outstanding scorers head-to-head in the open-floor setting of an all-star game. Bullock, a future Tar Heel, is a system player who scores within the offensive structure and understands when to pick his spots to take over a game. He is an excellent shooter with range who has consistently produced big numbers. On the other hand, Barton is an explosive scorer who looks to attack off the dribble and create his offense with his high-energy game. He has the ability to get on some unbelievable runs scoring in both half court and transition. Because this is a free-flowing all-star game that tends to not focus much on defense, the advantage goes to the more aggressive Barton.
C.J. Leslie versus Terrence Jones
If C.J Leslie (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God) and Terrence Jones (Portland, Ore./Jefferson) get the opportunity to square off against each other it could make for an interesting challenge between two athletic forwards who fill a box score. Leslie, who has the ability to play inside and out, may be the most explosive forward in the country; he impressed the NBA scouts in attendance at the McDonald's Game practices with his ability to finish in transition, block shots and his relentless attack of the offensive boards. Jones, who likes to play more facing the basket, showed in the Nike Hoop Summit that he can impact the game from the paint area. The versatile forward can stretch the defense out to the arc and can finish around the rim in traffic. This could be a fun matchup, but because of his motor the advantage goes to Leslie.
Jared Sullinger versus Tristan Thompson
Ohio State and Texas fans have something else to get excited about -- besides waiting for football season to start -- if these two post players get the opportunity to tangle at the Jordan Brand Classic. Both players are strong bodies who love to battle in the trenches and seek contact when attacking the basket. The Ohio State-bound Sullinger (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) is deceptively athletic. He plays with a skill level and basketball IQ beyond his years. It seems that whenever someone tries to find a reason to doubt him, he shows another aspect of his game that adds to the legend. The Texas-bound Thompson (Brampton, Ont./Findlay Prep) is a dynamic post player who combines strength and athleticism into a dominating presence in the paint. He showed at the Nike Hoop Summit that he can hang with Sullinger inside. The advantage goes to Sullinger, whose perimeter skill level will be tough to match in this open-floor setting.
Brandon Knight versus Cory Joseph
The Kentucky-bound Knight (Coral Springs, Fla./Pine Crest) will be fired up to compete against one the best shooters in the 2010 class in Joseph (Pickering, Ont./Findlay Prep). Knight has the quick hands and defensive foot speed to contest Joseph's jumpers and stay in front of him. Knight will also be in attack mode and look to set up his new and improved jumper by going right at Joseph off the dribble. Joseph will not back down and work to create space off the dribble in order to get off his sweet jumper. It will be interesting to see who imposes his will first and how the other reacts. The edge goes to Knight because of his relentless attacking approach to the game. He will find a way to make himself shine with his defensive intensity even if he's not scoring.
Roscoe Smith versus Doron Lamb
The offensive battle of these two scoring wings and Oak Hill teammates could be very entertaining. Smith (Baltimore/Oak Hill) will be looking to shoot the deep 3 and midrange pull-up. Lamb will have the ball on a string looking to make scoring plays off the bounce. Smith must make Lamb take contested shots and Lamb must make Smith put the ball on the floor and then work to stay in front of him. Both are capable of big numbers and play with toughness, but we're giving the edge to Lamb, who will want to win in his home city and show up the future UConn sharpshooter.
Dion Waiters versus Josh Selby
The battle of Philly (Waiters) and Baltimore (Selby) could be a special matchup. There are not two more confident and attacking perimeter players in the 2010 class. The Syracuse-bound Waiters is a freight train off the dribble; he scores through contact and comes at his defender with no mercy. The problem for Waiters (Philadelphia/Life Center) is Selby (Baltimore/Lake Clifton) has the same approach -- attack first, ask questions later. Both of these guards are tremendous playmakers with the ball in their hands. Selby is the better shooter with deeper range, but Waiters is a load to handle once he gets a full head of steam toward the rim.
Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton. He played at Ohio University from 1986 to '90 and was an All-MAC first-teamer his senior season. Mike LaPlante contributed to this report.