McDonald's All America Game Practices: Day Three

McDonald's All America Game Practices: Day Three
Mar 28, 2007, 06:05 pm
The third and final practice for the McDonald’s All America Game was an uneventful one, with the West team cutting their practice short by about thirty minutes in order to save their players’ legs for the real game. The East squad conducted a inter-squad scrimmage for the large portion of the practice, with O.J. Mayo stealing the show yet again. DraftExpress was there to take in all the action and has provided player evaluations, and was also able to get an in depth interview with Indiana recruit Eric Gordon.

East Team

The East team went through a number of shooting drills before conducting their inter-squad scrimmage. Competition was hot and heavy, and O.J. Mayo was dominant for the third consecutive day. Mayo did absolutely whatever he wanted out there on the floor, both as a playmaker and as a distributor. Here are our breakdowns of some of the top performers from the East squad on day three:

O.J. Mayo, 6’5, 210 lbs, PG, Signed with USC

Three days, three dominant performances from Mr. Mayo. The star point guard has shown the ability to score on absolutely anyone if he wants, while also getting everyone else on his team involved. He scored 7 straight points at one point through a contested three pointer and two gorgeous takes to the basket, only to have an assist the next time down the floor, and yet another three pointer on the following possession. The future Trojan has looked like an NBA player competing with high school players throughout all of the practices, and don’t expect that to change during the game Wednesday evening.

Nick Calathes, 6’5, 185 lbs, PG, Signed with Florida

While Calathes struggled guarding Mayo (like everyone else did), he played remarkable off the ball defense. He was outstanding rotating defensively and got a ton of steals via his quick hands and ability to know when and when not to gamble on the defensive end. The Florida commit was great running the show, throwing ridiculous no look passes on the fast break all throughout. His high basketball IQ continued to make up his lack of super athleticism, allowing him to be one of the top performers in the practice sessions yet again.

Donte Greene, 6’9, 210 lbs, SF/PF, Signed with Syracuse

During the scrimmage, Greene played on the perimeter the majority of the time and looked mighty fine doing so. He shot the ball well from the perimeter and was able to break down smaller defenders off of the dribble to get to the rim. The future Syracuse forward still struggles a bit staying in front of opposing small forwards on the perimeter, but is able to use his excellent length to make up for it. He will have the opportunity to be a “one and done” candidate next season at Syracuse, given their lack of a formidable scoring presence in the post for next season.

Kosta Koufos, 7’1, 240 lbs, PF/C, Signed with Ohio State

While Koufos was not outstanding, he gave everyone in attendance a preview of the role that he will play next year with all of the pick and pop plays that he executed. He shot the ball consistently from mid-range, while knocking down two three pointers as well. He struggled a bit defending quicker power forwards, but he will likely guard opposing centers next year at Ohio State with defensive stopper Othello Hunter taking care of the team’s opposing power forward.

J.J. Hickson, 6’9, 240 lbs, PF, Signed with North Carolina State

J.J. brought his A game yet again Tuesday, finishing well inside and playing the role of bruiser for his squad. He continued to battle with Patrick Patterson in the paint, and showed the ability to finish at the rim with either hand. Hickson rebounded the ball well, while playing solid positional defense in the post. He has been one of the most consistent players here on the week, and should have a solid performance in the game Wednesday night due to his athleticism and ability to finish inside.

Patrick Patterson, 6’8, 230 lbs, PF, Undecided

After two lackluster performances, Patterson really stepped it up on Tuesday. He used his strength and length to score inside, doing all of the little things that coaches dream of from a big man. Not only did he rebound well, but he was able to block a few scoring attempts by athletic counterparts J.J. Hickson and Gani Lawal. It was great to see Patterson get back on track after struggling early on, and it will be interesting to see where the physically imposing big man lands once UK announces their next head coach.

West Team

The West team cut their practice quite short, as coach Derrick Taylor let his team save their legs for the scrimmage that would take place later in the day. The team went through a series of shooting drills and went over out of bounds plays, but no competitive five on five action was played. Here are brief breakdowns of how some of the top players fared in the shooting drills:

Kevin Love- Love was automatic from midrange, whether it be off the dribble or from a standstill. He has shown that he can surely be a high post player in terms of his shooting ability, if UCLA chooses to have him play that role at times. With improved consistency, it is certainly not out of the question to see Love shooting the three-ball on a regular basis in college.

Eric Gordon- Beyond the three point arc, Gordon was deadly on the day. Once he got into the 15-17 foot area, his frequency went down a bit in the drills. The Indiana recruit was still hampered by injury, going through the drills somewhat gingerly and not leaping a ton on his injured hamstring.

Jerryd Bayless- Bayless was automatic in the shooting drills with his ridiculous lift and super high release point on is jumper. He was consistent from both midrange and beyond the arc, leaving Coach Olson a whole lot to look forward to next year at Arizona with the potential combination of Bayless, Chase Budinger, and Marcus Williams together on the perimeter.

Derrick Rose- The Memphis signee struggled a bit shooting the ball, as his awkward form makes his jumper incredibly inconsistent. There were stretches that he was able to make a decent amount of shots, but also stretches where he couldn’t buy a bucket at all. Rose openly admits that his shooting ability is his biggest weakness, and has been seen working on his shot each of the three days after the practice sessions concluded.

Kyle Singler- Singler was money from midrange in the drills, while also shooting the ball consistently from beyond the arc. While he doesn’t get a ton of lift on his shot, he shoots the ball the same way each and every time and is always going to be tough to defend due to his outstanding size for a wing. Kyle will certainly be able to step in and contend for immediate playing time next year at Duke.

Michael Beasley- The Notre Dame Prep forward showed that he can shoot the ball out to the NBA three point line, when he wants to actually play basketball. He has the potential to be an outstanding shooter when it is all said and done, but getting Beasley to exert maximum effort is much more of a concern at the moment then his actual on the court skills are.

Eric Gordon Interview

DraftExpress: What position are you going to play next season at Indiana? Has Coach Sampson told you whether you’re going to be playing point, or shooting guard?

Gordon: I’m going to be playing a mixture of one and two. It looks like I’m going to be more of a point guard at times, but I’m going to be playing a mixture of both.

DraftExpress: Do you have a preference personally as to which position you play?

Gordon: Well I’m more of a scoring guard, so I like to get more of that overall complete guard game. Playing a little bit of point guard, handling the ball. Then playing a little bit of shooting guard, and scoring. My main thing is scoring though, so shooting is probably my more favorable position.

DraftExpress: Obviously this has to have crossed your mind plenty of times, but what’s it going to be like the first time you go to play at Illinois this season?

Gordon: It’s probably going to be one the craziest atmospheres I’ll ever go to. It’s just one game there, so it’s not like I’m going to play there 100 times during the year.

DraftExpress: What were the main reasons that you decided to de-commit from Illinois and attend Indiana?

Gordon: It was closer, and I was much closer to the Indiana coaches. It was just a great for me to stay home at Indiana.

DraftExpress: Do you like the way the summer shoe camps have changed, with there only being one camp now? Or do you prefer it the way it was this past summer, with three different camps?

Gordon: I would say that it’s probably better to have all three big camps because you’re already playing against some of the top kids anyways. You’ve got to have another opportunity for other kids to get a scholarship as well, and that’s why I’d prefer all three.

DraftExpress: Now you’re a kid who bounced around the different sneaker companies AAU circuits. You’ve played for a Nike team, an Adidas team, and a Reebok team respectively. What was it like to have all that pressure from all these different shoe companies to play in their tournaments?

Gordon: They were really different. Each tournament is totally different. It just depends on the competition level. Different tournaments have different competition levels. That’s the only main difference.

DraftExpress: With having had past relationships with all three shoe companies, how did you decide which all-star game to play in, in addition to the McDonald’s game? What made you decide to play in the Jordan game?

Gordon: I picked the Jordan game because I have never been to New York. I’ve never played at Madison Square Garden. Everyone says “There’s nothing like the Garden”, so I had to take that opportunity.

DraftExpress: Who were your picks for the final four?

Gordon: At the time I had Florida, North Carolina, Ohio State and um….I don’t know who the other one was.

DraftExpress: Well who do you have winning it now?

Gordon: Well originally I had North Carolina, but since they are already out, I would say that Florida is going to win it again.

DraftExpress: What are your thoughts on the NBA’s age limit for the NBA Draft?

Gordon: It can be good and it can be bad. I would say the only bad thing is when they hold kids back who are physically ready. I mean, there are kids who develop physically early in their careers. Now you see it that they’re the best players in the league right now. I’m just saying for those who are ready physically, that might be the main problem in all of this.

DraftExpress: Now with you being one of, if not the most physically ready guard in this class, would you have considered going to the NBA out of high school had there not been the age limit?

Gordon: I probably would have thought about it, but I wouldn’t have put too much into it. Now I’m not even in the position to go, so I don’t really think about it. I definitely would have thought about it. Anybody would.

DraftExpress: Do you prefer the way the McDonald’s game practices are now, in a virtually empty gym with kind of with this laid back atmosphere? Or would you rather have these stands be filled with NBA scouts, like it was two years ago?

Gordon: I like the way it is now with things being kind of laid back. I mean, people are already trying to show their talents and everything, and you don’t want egos getting in the way when people are trying to show themselves in front of NBA and college scouts.

DraftExpress: Illinois produced a lot of guards who went to the NBA, yet you still chose to attend Indiana. Has the thought crossed your mind that you are going to be able to showcase yourself immediately as a freshman, to the point that you will be one and done?

Gordon: Well I mean, you never know if I’m going to be a one and done guy. It’s a year to year basis. I think the stuff Coach Sampson runs….the stuff he does….is really a great fit for me.

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