Included are detailed breakdowns of the games top performers, as well as an interview with Syracuse recruit Donte Greene.
Michael Beasley, 69, 230 lbs, SF/PF, Signed with Kansas State
23 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 turnovers, 10-13 FG, 2-3 3PT, 1-2 FT in 20 minutes
An athletic combo forward who can play equally well in the post or on the perimeter, Beasley decided to start off this game going outside-in to show off his skill-set. He knocked down one 3-pointer from close to NBA range, and then followed that up with another from college range. Both looked smooth and effortless coming off his hands. He also handled the ball in transition looking like a true small forward, although the crafty guards of the West did do a good job sneaking up from behind him to try and poke the ball out.
Beasley also did a wonderful job creating his own shot from the perimeter, putting the ball on the floor with a quick first step and getting to the rim with the greatest of ease. Granted there wasnt much defense being played by the East, but its impressive regardless to see a guy that size create for himself like a guard, and then finish with a pretty left-handed floater. Even though he had every reason to, he didnt force the issue at all in his time on the floor, making the extra pass and showing a very good attitude around his teammates throughout.
Where Beasley was at his best, though, was down in the paint scrapping for offensive rebounds. He gets off the floor so quickly and has such great reaction time that no one was really able to keep a body on him when taking his frame and strength into consideration. He produced in this fashion with put-backs, tip-ins and just by cleaning up the old-fashioned way. At times, Beasley even got into a stance and played some defense, being fairly effective defending his position.
All in all, Beasley was the well deserving MVP of this game. If he keeps his head on straight and has the type of season we all know he can under Bob Huggins at Kansas State, there is really no limit on how high in the draft he could end up going.
O.J. Mayo, 65, 210 lbs, PG, Signed with USC
12 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 turnovers,3 steals, 4-17 FG, 1-9 3PT, 3-4 FT in 23 minutes
From the tip, it was apparent that Mayo was looking to score before getting his teammates involved in the game. He was thinking shoot, shoot, shoot every time he came off that pick and roll, rarely even glancing at the roll man. He settled for far too many contested jumpers from the perimeter, opting to take the three instead of going to the rim the majority of the time he was on the court. To O.J.s defense, he made those shots all week long in practice and has shown that he can make them on a consistent basis, but when the lights were on, unfortunately he did not come to perform.
It was troubling to see the three time Mr. Basketball shoot so much after he showed so much promise throughout the week as a playmaker. In the practice sessions, he looked to get all of his teammates involved when he would break down the defense, instead of forcing awfully difficult shots like he did Wednesday night. The Louisville fans even began booing Mayo late in the game, when his desire to put points on the board began to draw more attention then the actual game itself. His superb court vision was not on show at all, leaving many who had not seen him play before believe that he is a pure chucker with no other skills at all.
On the bright side, O.J. was pretty solid defensively when guarding power guard Eric Gordon. He was able to keep in front of E.J. well enough so that the explosive guard was not able to make it to the rim on Mayo like he did on so many others. He also showed flashes of his offensive prowess and creativity in the lane, converting on two pretty ridiculous layups in the paint over Michael Beasley.
It was clear from the tip that Mayos head was not in the game and that he was out there to put points on the board, no matter how much it hurt his team. He seemed to lose the confidence and swagger that he is renowned for, looking like an average high school player instead of the future NBA All-Star he looked like all week in practice. Mayo will look to avenge his poor performance in the Nike Hoop Summit, as well as either the Sonny Vacarro Roundball Classic or the Jordan Classic. Simply put, this was the absolute worst performance that we have ever seen Mayo have on the biggest stage he has ever played on, and dont expect this to happen again in any of the all star games this stud combo guard partakes in again.
Eric Gordon, 64, 212 lbs, PG/SG, Signed with Indiana
13 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 1 steal, 5-13 FG, 1-5 3PT, 2-2 FT in 22 minutes
Gordon showed off his downright blinding speed on the open floor, pushing the rock up the floor in the wink of an eye past the East squad. His outstanding first step was on display, allowing him to get to the rim and finish after absorbing contact. The power that he has constantly exerted at the high school level will surely carry over into the collegiate game, which is why so many feel that Gordon is one of the safest bets to put up outstanding numbers as a freshman.
Eric also used his strength and athleticism on the defensive end, really putting the clamps on O.J. Mayo throughout the game, despite Mayos ridiculous ball handling ability. He did not go for any of Mayos fakes nor bite on his crossover, allowing him to keep in front of the USC recruit on a consistent basis and force him into multiple contested jump shots. Gordons tough, gritty defense will immediately make him a fan favorite in Bloomington, as if his explosive scoring ability wasnt enough already.
While Gordon didnt blow anyone away, he didnt exactly disappoint either. He was second on an absolutely stacked squad in scoring and led his team to victory. The Indiana recruit will take his game to Memphis next, where he will show the International Team at the Nike Hoop Summit what Americas best power guard looks like up close and personal.
J.J. Hickson, 69, 240 lbs, PF, Signed with NC State
14 pts, 6 reb, 7-9 FG, 0-1 3P, 0-2 ft, in 16 minutes
Hickson put the ball on the floor to create his own shot, knocked down a 16 foot jumper, used his body extraordinary well in the post, and finished effectively around the basket, particularly after grabbing offensive rebounds. Hes an excellent athlete, blessed with great quickness for a player his size, to go along with his strength and leaping ability.
Sidney Lowe already has two outstanding post players to work with, and his rotation just appears to have gotten that much deeper with the addition of a true back to the basket threat.
Kevin Love, 69, 255 lbs, PF/C, Signed with UCLA
13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 6-10 FG, 1-2 3PT in 20 minutes
The gritty play that the Oregon native is known for was on the big screen Wednesday, as he used his bullish strength to overpower some pretty physical big men in their own right, in J.J. Hickson and Patrick Patterson. He used his body quite well around the basket in order to get his shot up over the longer, more athletic post players that the East team had to offer. He even displayed his outside shooting ability by converting on a three point attempt, and looking quite fluid in doing so. Kevin then went on to make countless touch catches on the fast break, converting long lead passes by Derrick Rose into two points on two separate occasions.
What sets Love apart from players such as Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo, or Derrick Rose is that he does not possess the immense upside that that trio does. His game seems to be getting close to peaking out, and many question how much better he will be able to get by the time it is all said and done. While he is an underrated leaper, Kevin is a bit slow on the floor and struggles guarding face the basket power forwards quite frequently. Athleticism and weight control are two issues that have arisen constantly with Love over the years, and will ultimately be crucial in where he gets picked in the NBA Draft.
The McDonalds game was not quite the setting that a player of Loves style of play thrives in. He is much better in the half court set, where he can utilize his size and post moves much better. The Nike Hoop Summit will serve as his opportunity to prove what he can really do on the court, as he will be matched up with intriguing and athletic big men prospects Solomon Alabi, Alexis Ajinca, and Giorgi Shermadini.
Gani Lawal, 69, 220 lbs, PF, Signed with Georgia Tech
12 pts, 12 reb (8 off), 2 assist, 5-12 FG, 0-1 3P, 2-5 FT in 18 minutes
He runs the floor extremely well, has good, strong hands, and seems to be a reliable target to throw the ball to for lobs and easy finishes. Hes not the kind of guy that wants to get pretty around the hoop, hell just go up and dunk it if given the opportunity to. When he tries to start creating offense for himself is when things start getting murky for him. He doesnt look to be the most polished guy in the world by any stretch, but has reportedly only been playing basketball for a few years now. Numerous people we know have gone out of their way to tell us how highly they think of Lawals attitude, character and work ethic, and that alone makes us think hes got a pretty good chance to develop into an NBA prospect down the road.
Nick Calathes, 65, PG, committed to Florida
13 pts, 6 asst, 5 reb, 5-14 fg, 0-4 3pt, 3-3 ft, 2 steals, 1 turnover in 22 min
Of course, there are those physical deficiencies. Calathes has continued to grow well into his high school career, and it is going to take some time and a significant amount of work in the weight room before he is up to par in terms of athleticism and strength. All in all, this was an impressive performance. He will immediately step into a big role at Florida, and it should be interesting to see how Donovan chooses to utilize him. Donovan already received a committment from 58 standout Erving Walker from the 2008 class, and should have a few other ballhandling options returning from this years roster. Donovan going to more of a multiple lead guard lineup would give Calathes time to develop physically and help him against more athletic defenders. It is fairly clear that he will emerge as a star over the course of his college career. As far as his professional future goes, it all depends on just how much he can improve as an athlete.
Donte Greene, 69, 210 lbs, SF/PF, Signed with Syracuse
10 points, 2 rebounds, 4-7 FG, 1-4 3PT, 1-2 FT in 17 minutes
Two areas of the game that Donte struggled in mightily were perimeter defense and pure physical strength. He was beat off of the dribble pretty regularly by Michael Beasley and Kyle Singler, not moving as feet as well as you would like to see a small forward do so. When in the paint, Greene was pushed around by Beasley, Love, and Blake Griffin, allowing the trio to combine for 12 offensive rebounds. While his frame is not outstanding by any means, it certainly does have the potential to add another 15-20 pounds to it by the time he plays his first game in a Syracuse uniform. Luckily, Greene acknowledged the fact that these were the two biggest weaknesses of his game, and assured DraftExpress that he will be working on them in the near future.
Greene has been rumored by many to be a potential one and done guy, mostly in part to his size, athleticism, and skill set for a big forward. He said that he would have most likely entered the draft this past year out of high school if given the opportunity, so he is surely a guy that draft fans must keep an eye on for the 2008 NBA Draft.
Kyle Singler, 68, SF, committed to Duke
10 pts, 4-7 fg, 0-3 pt, 2-2 ft, 4 reb, 1 asst in 17 minutes
Lets make one thing clear this game was about shot happy lead guards getting up and down the court, and athletic big men dunking. There wasnt much of a place for a patient, crafty swingman like Kyle Singler. Touches were scarce, and his outside shot wasnt falling. Nonetheless, Singler still found ways to contribute with defensive effort rarely seen in a HS all-star game and deft, unselfish play on the offensive end. He showed off an impressive midrange game with a nice baseline jumper in the first half, and impressed the entire way with his court vision and passing. His jumper loses effectiveness the further away from the basket he is, but he has NBA-ready form and all sorts of ways to get his shot off.
While we dont know for sure just how dominant Singler will be early on in his career at Duke, it is fairly obvious that the program needs an elite level scorer, someone who can put the offense on their back and hit big shots. Singler clearly has the tools, and has the tools to emerge as the next great Duke player in his freshman season. But so did Josh McRoberts, so it will be important for this skilled swingman to assert himself right away.
Jonny Flynn, 60, PG, Signed with Syracuse
9 pts, 6 asst, 2 to, 3-7 fg, 1-3 3pt, 2-2 ft in 20 min
Speaking of athleticism, Flynn appears to be no slouch himself judging by the powerful one-handed dunk he threw down late in the first half. He also used his athleticism to play pretty good defense on Derrick Rose, appearing to take to heart the challenge of guarding the much more highly regarded point guard. He seems to be a pretty tough kid who is not afraid to stick his nose in. There was a point in the first half that it looked like he might compete for MVP honors, but alas, he slowed down in the 2nd, even if he did hit a pretty clutch 3-pointer down the stretch. Still, Syracuse fans have a lot of reasons to get excited about considering the ball-handling issues they had last season.
Derrick Rose, 63, 195 lbs, PG, Signed with Memphis
5 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 TOs, 2-5 FG, 0-1 3p, 1-2 FT, 22 minutes
Jerryd Bayless, 63, 195 lbs, PG/SG, Signed with Arizona
11 points, 0 assists, 2 turnovers, 3-7 FG, 2-2 3PT, 3-4 FT, in 16 minutes
Donte Greene Interview
Greene: I could have played harder, and I could have played more aggressive. I knocked down a three, I showed that I can dunk. I caught a couple of oops. I really didnt show my driving ability, but it was ok. It was a good game.
DraftExpress: Tell me a little about the role that youre going to be playing next year at Syracuse. Are you going to be a combo forward, or are you going to be playing strictly on the perimeter?
Greene: Im going to be a combo forward. I might start off the early season at the four, and then slide up to the three depending how my other teammates develop. I just want to go out there and have a great year next year.
DraftExpress: What are your thoughts on the NBAs age limit?
Greene: Oh man, I dont think they should ban high school kids from entering. It does help guys get into college and get started as far as education, but there are a lot of guys who could still probably test the waters. Put their name in, and not necessarily get an agent. Just put their name in and see whats up.
DraftExpress: Now what would you have done personally had they not put the age rule in place?
Greene: I probably would have put my name in the draft. I dont know if I would I would have went, but I would have put my name in to see where I was at, and then move on to Syracuse.
DraftExpress: Youre a guy who people mention as a possible one and done candidate. Does that stuff go through your mind a lot now, and did that have anything to do with why you picked Syracuse?
Greene: No. It never goes through my head. If you go through college looking to be one and done, youre not going to be one and done. Youre going to be there all four years, I think. You just have to go in there and enjoy life Enjoy being a teenager. Im going to be 19 years old going into Syracuse. Im just trying to go in there and have fun.
DraftExpress: Now the summer camp circuit has changed, with Nike being the only camp announced for a while this summer and Reebok just recently announcing that they were holding their own camp. Do you like it better with one or two camps, or how it was when you were on the circuit?
Greene: I think it would be better with only one camp, so more of the top players play against each other. Youre going to see who has what, and its going to make the young guys go harder. Its going to be real competitive, and its going to be great from the media.
DraftExpress: Whats the pressure like having all three shoe companies fighting to get you to play in their respective all-star games?
Greene: Its tough. I was originally a Nike guy, but Reebok has been showing me mad love. Ive gotta stick with Nike though. I cant let Nike go.
DraftExpress: What things do you feel you need to work on next year for college, and for when you decide to go to the NBA?
Greene: The big thing is strength. Ive gotta put on at least 15-20 pounds of muscle from now until the beginning of the season at Syracuse. Then I probably need to work on my foot speed the most.
DraftExpress: What position do you see yourself being in the NBA eventually?
Greene: Small forward most likely.
DraftExpress: Who is your pick to win the NCAA championship?
Greene: My pick .Man I gotta go with my boys from G-town. My boys back home.
DraftExpress: A lot of people compare you to Kevin Durant. Do you think those comparisons are warranted? Do you see similarities in your games?
Greene: There are some similarities. I think his stroke is better then mine. I can dribble better though. I wanted to show tonight that I can create my own shot tonight, but I should be good. I still have the Jordan Game and the Nike Hoop Summit.
DraftExpress: What are your plans for the rest of the time you have left til you go to Syracuse?
Greene: Well I have the Nike Hoop Summit coming up next week in Memphis. Then I have the Jordan Game. After that Im taking a break for a while Just lift weights, get ready. After that, I go to Serbia with the USA team.