Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Best of McDonald's Day 2 practices
By Reggie Rankin
CHICAGO -- The McDonald’s All American Game preparation continued on Tuesday with some full and half-court five-on-five offensive execution in preparation for Wednesday’s game (9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and WatchESPN). Both teams worked on cleaning up their patterns and sharpening their timing.
Here are a few matchups and performances that caught my eye during Tuesday’s practice sessions.
Florida-bound PF Chris Walker used his athleticism to win the dunk contest on Monday and battle Julius Randle in practice on Tuesday.
This was a battle of length and elite athletic ability between the slam dunk champ Walker and the power and explosiveness of Randle. Both excelled and made plays on each other in the open court and in the lane. Walker simply elevates and finishes, while Randle powers through opponents. It was fun to watch these two contrasting styles compete and raise each other’s games.
The low-post scoring was few and far between in practice, but when it occurred Johnson attacked the rim and drew fouls. Meeks is more effective facing and making his move. These two big bodies banged and bumped with great force. Johnson did an excellent job holding his ground defensively, while Meeks played with his hands up in order to contest and make Johnson finish over the top. This wasn’t a matchup full of highlights, but it was plenty physical.
• Keith Frazier (SMU) again shot the ball well. He loves to hit the deep 3 from the right corner, and he came off screens on baseline out-of-bounds plays and in set offense. He also created off the bounce for a couple pull-ups deep in the lane after a spin move. This kid can flat out get on a scoring roll. Frazier also made news by committing to SMU on Tuesday.
• Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona) was impressive on the defensive end of the floor. He is a terrific athlete with lateral foot quickness and the heart to get the job done. Hollis-Jefferson has defended positions 1 through 4 effectively during the practice sessions. He is a glue guy who finds a way to get the job done.
This was a classic shooter (Jones) vs. scorer (Hamilton) matchup. They had a few possessions where they competed against each other to get off shots. Jones hit a couple deep, rainbow 3s and Hamilton used his great knack for creating off the dribble and his crafty scoring ability to earn a couple buckets. This battle was short but very intense.
This was a battle of length vs. length. Both Lee and Portis block and alter shots with the best of them. They also put pressure on each other in transition by running the floor well. Lee and Portis have fast-developing skills and amazing upside. They show flashes of greatness, but it is clear their best days are ahead. And when that day comes, watch out.
• Jarrell Martin (LSU) seemed more comfortable and aggressive on Tuesday. He displayed his ability to face and knock down open shots with time and space. He has a soft touch around the glass as well. Martin is a tough matchup because he can pull bigs away from the basket.
• Jabari Bird (California) had some impressive possessions that didn’t go unnoticed. He made a couple strong and explosive above-the-rim finishes and knocked down open jumpers from behind the arc. He played with good energy and effort and quietly put together a solid practice. I liked the way he didn’t force things but didn’t pass up opportunities either.