Before the nation gets to view the 2013 McDonald’s All-Americans on ESPN, NBA executives and high school scouts enjoyed two days of intense inter-squad practices filled with juicy individual match-ups. In one of the most talent-laden fields in recent memory, the scrimmages were fast and furious with competitive shooting drills and even some work on set plays.
On Monday, the East squad gave viewers a ton of interesting match-ups. Andrew Wiggins vs. Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle vs. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Isaiah Hicks vs. Chris Walker, and Wayne Selden vs. Keith Frazier were just some of the compelling combinations that matched-up during the allotted time limit.
Top 3 (Monday – East):
Keith Frazier (6-5, SG, SMU) – Frazier shot the lights out on Monday and then announced his college decision on Tuesday. Frazier is Larry Brown’s first All-American recruit at SMU, and started the morning off curling around screens and knocking down 3-pointers from the right wing and top of the key. After draining jumpers without a defender on him, Frazier continued the shooting exhibition during the scrimmage making the right wing his sweet spot. Frazier was the top outside shooter on the day, knocking in several shots from well behind the college line. While Frazier’s jumper might not be picture perfect, the result definitely is as every made shot ripped through the net without glancing the rim.
Andrew Wiggins (6-8, SF, Undecided) – The top player in the country showed off his crazy athleticism while also knocking down jump shots from the wing on Monday. Wiggins showed off his quick release in shooting drills knocking down over 50% and then continued the hot shooting against Noah Vonleh during the scrimmages. While Wiggins did not dominate on the offensive end, he battled on the defensive end with anybody on the court, no matter their size. On one possession, 6-9 Isaiah Hicks posted Wiggins up in the paint and tried an eight foot fade-away. Wiggins timed his jump perfectly and sent the ball right back to Hicks. Despite all the athleticism on the East squad, the top notch athleticism that Wiggins possesses was on full display for his future NBA suitors.
Julius Randle (6-9, PF, Kentucky) – Despite missing most of the high school season with a fractured right foot, Randle wasted no time showing that the selection committee made the right decision in letting him participate. If he wasn’t grabbing defensive rebounds, Randle often took over the point forward position and brought the ball up the court. His go to move was a right handed drive from the top of the key utilizing a stutter step to freeze the defender. Once Randle picks up a full head of steam there aren’t many defenders on any level that will want to get in his way. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson did a solid job absorbing Randle’s blows, but it was apparent that the Randle’s speed and power are a rare trait.
Other East notes:
- On Monday, the three point guards on the team got to face off. Anthony “Cat” Barber got hurt half way through which left Kasey Hill and Demetrius Jackson to go head to head. Hill used his quickness to get in the lane and finish amongst the trees with his superb one foot jumping ability while Jackson used his brute strength to do the same. Both Hill and Barber sat out practice on Tuesday and Wayne Selden helped out at the point.
- Isaiah Hicks stands 6-9, while Chris Walker stands 6-10, both with lanky frames. While these two did not match-up often they both displayed why they are some of the top big men in the nation. Hicks ran the court with ease and scored transition lay-ups on four straight possessions at one point while Walker blocked shots and even calmly drained a three from the top of the corner.
- Centers Dakari Johnson and Kennedy Meeks battled down low with their big bodies in the one true post match-up of the day. Johnson showed a nice touch around the basket along with an eye opening fast break finish. Meeks used his wide body to keep Johnson out of the paint and set vicious screens for his point guards at the top of the key.
On Tuesday, the West coaches set aside a bit more time for set plays than on Monday, but the scrimmages still featured four of the top six players in the country.
Aaron Gordon (6-8, F, Arizona) – On the day he was planning on making his long awaited college decision, Gordon played with a bounce in his step. Leading the team out on the court, getting players pumped up, and finishing first in sprints were the little things Gordon exhibited that his future coach Sean Miller will get to enjoy. Explosive jumping, quickness, and ball-handling are the big things Miller will like as well. Gordon finished in traffic and ran the court all session long on Tuesday. With the scrimmage coming to an end and matched up with Jabari Parker, Gordon went right at him from the left wing. Even though his first shot missed, Gordon followed it up with a put back to end the game. While Gordon needs to work on his shot to play the small forward position next year for the Arizona Wildcats, he is already well aware. Both days Gordon was the last player on the court taking jump shot after jump shot.
Jabari Parker (6-8, F, Duke) – During both the controlled and open portions of the scrimmages, Parker cut to the basket for short shots and found the open man for uncontested lay-ups. While he forced a few deep jumpers, Parker was usually scoring or getting fouled by his defender when he touched the ball. Parker didn’t do anything flashy, but just turned in a strong overall performance. After taking several months to round back into shape during the high school season, Parker is coming on strong at the right time.
Jarell Martin (6-9, PF, LSU) – Instead of banging down low against fellow SEC counterpart Bobby Portis, Martin decided to step outside and show off his outside jump shot. Martin hit a deep jumper from the left side to start and added in another deep jumper as the scrimmage continued. While there were several intriguing one on one match-ups, the play of Martin had everyone talking.
Other West Notes:
- Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Harrison were going at it and Williams-Goss never backed down from the physical play of Harrison. Williams-Goss was able to dish to the open man on the offensive end and knock down a mid-range jump shot when needed.
- While the East squad had a triumvirate of point guards going at it early on in the first day, the West showcased three shooting guards. Jabari Bird, Isaac Hamilton, and Matt Jones all had their moments on Tuesday whether it was finishing above the rim off tip backs, slicing to the basket, or draining a long range jumper.
- James Young participated in shooting drills at the end of practice but his involvement was limited over the two day practice session.
Here are some top individual match-ups to watch:
Wiggins vs. Parker – This match-up was supposed to take place during the Peach Jam when both players were ranked number 1 in their class, but never materialized with Parker’s injury.
Randle vs. Gordon – These two have been ranked neck and neck from the time they started high school and will provide an interesting contrast in styles with Gordon’s finesse and Randle’s power.
Kasey Hill vs. Andrew Harrison – Once again, these two point guards are vastly different. Harrison has the height and strength while Hill has the quickness and dribbles the ball like it’s a yo-yo.
While the West has four of the top six players in the country, the East has Andrew Wiggins and a plethora of long, athletic big men that will lead the East to a victory.--------------------------------------------
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