Eric Gordon, 6'2 SG, Meanstreets Express
Gordon is a scorer in the purest sense, skilled and talented enough to put the ball in the basket from anywhere on the floor and in the toughest of situations. He showed off both his slashing and shooting game today, taking the ball the hoop tenaciously time after time with his incredibly powerful first step and awesome ball-handling skills with both his right and left hand. He gets to the hoop in a flash and finishes with contact with no regard whatsoever for his personal safety. He has both the strength and a fantastic feel for finishing at the rim, knowing how and when to use the glass and being equally adept at using either of his massive hands to go along with his outstanding frame and length. He is confident and assertive like most great scorers are, never hanging his head and looking prone to put his team on his back and give them two points at any given moment even without the help of a screen or set play. He has a wide array of ball-fakes and hesitation moves in his arsenal he utilizes to assist him with the task at hand, mixing up an effective pull-up game off the dribble with his terrific footwork to constantly keep his defender guessing as to what his next move will be. If his man cheats and tries to give himself an extra step to try and stop his super quick first step, he will compose himself instantaneously and elevate for a smooth jump-shot, having terrific mechanics and a superb feel for throwing the ball in the hoop even with a hand in his face. The one flaw you might find in him at the moment is his shot selection, being a bit prone to take shot early in the shot-clock with no conscience, but the system (or lack thereof...) he plays in and the playground nature of these AAU games has just as much to do with it. When he wasnt on the floor his team looked completely lost today, and they probably could have done a better job going to him down the stretch when they needed points.
As far as his NBA potential goes, there will always be question marks about his position in the NBA, since he is essentially a 6-3 shooting guard and does not look ashamed in that even one bit. What he did show today (as opposed to yesterday) is the fact that he actually has a good feel for finding the open man, not being selfish and not having a problem giving the ball up if his shot just isnt there. The term combo guard is becoming less and less of a bad word with each season that goes by, and if players like Ben Gordon and Randy Foye can go 3rd and 6th in the draft, there is no reason why Eric Gordon cant go somewhere in the lottery either.
O.J. Mayo, 6'5 PG, D1 Greyhounds
The much-anticipated Mayo-Rose matchup finally took place, and didnt disappoint in the least bit. Both players essentially did what they wanted on the offensive end, with Mayo going off from beyond the arc. Showing beautiful form on his jumper, Mayo hit deep three pointers from all over the court, even calling a bank from the wing. He didnt attack the basket much, but he really didnt need to. Every time his team needed a basket, Mayo would come through with a big 3-pointer. The D1 Greyhounds were in major need down by 3 and with time running out, when Mayo came up with a truly history-making moment. He exploded past the halfcourt line, pulling up from 25+ feet out. As he reached full extension on his jumper, a hard-charging Eric Gordon attempted to contest the shot from behind. Whether or not contact was actually made, the miracle shot hit the bottom of the net a split second after the referee blew his whistle. The crowd erupted, Mayo calmly hit the decisive free throw, and Rose dribbled the ball out of bounds at the buzzer. Mayo finished with 26 points, hitting 7 of 8 three-pointers, dishing out six assists, and committing not a single turnover. Nothing less than the stuff of legends, folks.
Unfortunately, Mayo couldnt put in a repeat performance against the SoCal All-Stars, a game that pitted perhaps the two most talented AAU teams in the country against each other. D1 was probably sunk from the beginning, as Bill Walker missed the game due to injury. Forced to completely carry his team on the offensive end, it would have taken another 7 3-pointer outing from Mayo for D1 to win this game, and Mayos shot abandoned him in this one. He again got to the basket at will, but couldnt finish early on. Several shots just rolled off the rim, and he had a 3-pointer rim out early in the half. Soon, SoCal was up by double digits and Mayo found himself on the bench. Mayo played a bit better in the second half, converting on an outside jumper and finishing a couple of nice transition drives, but the most anticipated AAU battle of the summer had already fizzled. This night belonged to Kevin Love, Brandon Jennings, and the SoCal All-Stars.
While Mayo wasnt consistently scoring off the dribble today, his extreme quickness was still impossible to ignore. He attacks the defense relentlessly, hanging in the air for a teardrop off the glass or finding a teammate with a crisp bullet pass straight through the teeth of the defense. He is a blur in the open court, and continues to amaze with a seemingly endless variety of creative passes on the move. At the same time, Mayo probably still has a bit to learn about controlling tempo and playing under control. He is so creative on the move that he must constantly resist the urge to attempt the spectacular, risky play. His incredibly quick hands and remarkable anticipation ability should make him a dominant defender, but Mayo often takes plays off on the defensive end. Rose was able to get by him at will, and eventually he switched to an easier assignment. Mayo gets to almost any loose ball that he goes after, but he could give a more consistent effort on the defensive end. Even with the disappointing night cap, it is hard to understate his charisma, polish, and professional potential. OJ Mayo is the type of talent that will likely star from the moment he steps onto an NBA court.
Derrick Rose, 6'3 PG, Meanstreets Express
Roses biggest weakness at this point is his shot, where he displays poor mechanics and an inconsistent release point. This doesnt stop him from taking a few long range shots from time to time, and it is evident that his shot selection will need to be improved. He also struggles with his touch around the hoop, and needs to work on making the adjustments to get around the defenders inside. This would allow him to attack the hoop with more tenacity. Rose possesses all of the physical attributes to become a very good defender, but at this point he is inconsistent with his effort, though his quick hands allow him to get some steals.
Against OJ Mayos team, Rose stepped up to the competition with a triple doubled that included 24 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists. He is very competitive, and wanted his team to be placed in the same pool as Mayos so he could prove himself against the best. It is easy to see why Rose is mentioned with the top prospects in the country, and he is definitely a guy who will play in the NBA down the road.
Kevin Love, 6'9 PF, Southern California All-Stars
Kevins most impressive skill shown on Sunday however was his passing. While many referred to Dee Brown as a One Man Fast Break, Love fits the term even better. His outlet passing ability is like that of no other big man that weve seen in recent years. The future McDonalds All American is able to grab a tough rebound, turn, and quickly outlet the ball 40 feet ahead of him to start the break. Brandon Jennings benefitted from this more then anyone, as he was able to constantly have 3-on-1 and 3-on-2 situations solely off of Loves outlet passes. The punishing big man also showed some nifty interior passing, and even threw an alley-oop to the 6'2 Jennings on one of the first plays of the game against the D1 Greyhounds.
On the negative side, the top five recruit struggled a bit against more athletic players, despite his lofty numbers. Justin Anyijong (a long, athletic, but very raw big man from the Michigan Hurricanes) really was able to alter quite a few of Loves shots, seemingly making him uncomfortable for quite some time there. This raises questions as to how Kevin will fare at the college level against long, athletic big men his own size. He did pick it up however, and wound up finishing with 29 points and 12 rebounds in a win over the Hurricanes.
It is going to be very interesting to see how Love fits in at UCLA in 07. He is seemingly the perfect fit at the moment to play along side Darren Collison, Aaron Afflalo, and Luc Richard Mbah A Moute. The PAC-10 style of play is quite fast, and Kevin should be able to continue to be the One Man Fast Break he is at the high school level with his amazing outlet passes. While we will most likely see Love in the NBA some day, we may have to wait a little bit longer due to the fact that he doesnt quite have the potential of many of his peers, although he is far more talented at the moment.
Brandon Jennings, 6'1 PG, SoCal Allstars, 2008
Jennings biggest weakness at this point is his tendency to try and be too flashy. He turns the ball over too much for a point guard with great court vision, and that is a direct result of him trying to be too fancy with his passes. On one occasion Jennings created dribble penatration and had an open teammate inside, but rather than throw a simple pass to his teammates hand, he tried a no-look pass which went right into the hands of the defender. Jennings also tends to be a little wild while running a half court offense, and needs to work on being more patient at times. Down the road he will need to work on developing a mid-range game.
In his first game of the day, Jennings scored 8 points against the Michigan Hurricanes, while dishing out 8 assists and turning the ball over 4 times. Against the D1 Greyhounds, he scored 14 points, and handed out 8 assists with 3 turnovers. He has looked like a very promising point guard, and his combination of athleticism, court vision, and scoring. He will have to become more disciplined when running an offense, but he has a very bright future ahead of him.
Renardo Sidney, 6'10 PF, Southern California All-Stars, 2009
The major question when dealing with Sidney is trying to project what position he will be at the next level. He took the world by storm as a rising ninth grader in the spring of 2005 when he was a 6'9, 200 pound small forward who played strictly on the perimeter. Fast forward one year and we have a 6'10, 240 pound post player who still has the ability to handle the ball in the open floor and shoot the three pointer, but doesnt have the same quickness as before. There is still plenty of time for Renardos camp to decide what position theyd like him to play, considering that he is only going into his sophomore year of high school. While it may seem like it is a bit early to mention a 2009 high school prospect, Sidney has such an interesting skill set that we felt that Draft fans should definitely keep his name etched in their heads, and is a guy we should definitely follow through his storied high school career.