2007 McDonald's All America Game: Player Breakdowns

2007 McDonald's All America Game: Player Breakdowns
Mar 29, 2007, 02:04 am
The 2007 McDonald's All America Game has came and gone, with the West team taking home a narrow 114-112 victory. O.J. Mayo disappointed, Michael Beasley flourished, and Gani Lawal surprised many.

Included are detailed breakdowns of the games top performers, as well as an interview with Syracuse recruit Donte Greene.

Michael Beasley, 6’9, 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


Jonathan Givony

The MVP of this game, and rightfully so considering the way he dominated in the 20 minutes he played, Michael Beasley did a marvelous job displaying his entire arsenal of skills. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that if this were two years ago and players were still allowed to enter the draft out of high school, this performance would have locked him into the top 5-10 spots of this year’s draft. Unfortunately for Beasley (or not depending on your perspective), he’ll be heading to Kansas State, where he has a chance to take the Big 12 by storm in a way that will have many people comparing him to Kevin Durant.

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 wasn’t much defense being played by the East, but it’s 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 didn’t 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, 6’5, 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

Rodger Bohn

The nation’s best player had his worst possible game Wednesday, shooting a frosty 23% from the field and missing the shot that would have won the game for his East squad. He reverted back to his reckless style of play that he had as a youngster, when he consistently forced shots and could be awfully selfish at times. After three fantastic days of practice, Mayo shocked every member of the media in attendance with his atrocious performance, and surely has some ground to make up for in the Nike Hoop Summit and whichever other all-star game he decides to play in.

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 Mayo’s 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 don’t expect this to happen again in any of the all star games this stud combo guard partakes in again.

Eric Gordon, 6’4, 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

Rodger Bohn

”E.J.” had a quiet, but solid showing in the McDonald’s game. His 13 points tied for third most in the game, and he showed flashes of the point guard skills that so many thought were non-existent. The former high school teammate of Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. was attacking the rim at will throughout the game, using his chiseled physique to absorb contact and get shots up over bigger and stronger defenders. He shot the ball poorly from the outside however, an anomaly considering that is one of the strong points of his game.

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 Mayo’s ridiculous ball handling ability. He did not go for any of Mayo’s 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. Gordon’s tough, gritty defense will immediately make him a fan favorite in Bloomington, as if his explosive scoring ability wasn’t enough already.

While Gordon didn’t blow anyone away, he didn’t 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 America’s best power guard looks like up close and personal.

J.J. Hickson, 6’9, 240 lbs, PF, Signed with NC State
14 pts, 6 reb, 7-9 FG, 0-1 3P, 0-2 ft, in 16 minutes

Jonathan Givony

J.J. Hickson had one of the better showings of any of the players at the McDonald’s All-America game in the limited time he saw on the floor. Comparing him from last summer in Las Vegas to the player we see today, it’s really night and day in how much he’s managed to improved. His body is much better, his perimeter game has evolved, and he seems to have quite a bit more purpose in the way he conducts himself on the floor. He really did a nice job showing all of these things together in the 16 minutes he played, but especially in the three days of practice our colleague Rodger Bohn was at.

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. He’s 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, 6’9, 255 lbs, PF/C, Signed with UCLA
13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 6-10 FG, 1-2 3PT in 20 minutes

Rodger Bohn

Love brought his old school approach to the McDonald’s All America Game, doing nothing spectacular but doing all of the little things that you need a big man to do to lead you to victory. He started the fast break numerous times with his abnormal outlet passes, which he can fire to half court from under the basket with a simple flick of the wrist. This allowed Derrick Rose to get out in transition and obtain many of the 5 assists that he finished with. Rose owes Mr. Love a big thank you for this, and if Darren Collison decides to stick around Westwood for another year, he will surely be thanking Love after every single game once he sees his assist numbers jump the way they should.

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 McDonald’s game was not quite the setting that a player of Love’s 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, 6’9, 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

Jonathan Givony

Another one of the top performers of the night for the East was their extremely long and athletic big man Gani Lawal, who just wanted to do the dirty work for them all game long. No one played harder in Louisville, whether it was running the floor like a madman, being incredibly active on the glass, playing very strong defense, or trying to fight for position inside with Michael Beasley. 12 rebounds (8 offensive) in 18 minutes should give you an indication of the kind of nose for the ball that Lawal has, and when combined with his incredible wingspan and athleticism, we’re talking about a guy who can have a real impact in his career at Georgia Tech.

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. He’s not the kind of guy that wants to get pretty around the hoop, he’ll 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 doesn’t 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 Lawal’s attitude, character and work ethic, and that alone makes us think he’s got a pretty good chance to develop into an NBA prospect down the road.

Nick Calathes, 6’5, 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

Jonathan Watters

Nick Calathes doesn’t exactly look like an elite basketball prospect. He’s painfully thin, and doesn’t move up and down the court like a D1 floor general. But it doesn’t take long to realize that there is plenty of reason for all the hype surrounding the next Gator point guard. After a few forced passes early on, Calathes settled down and played an excellent game. His court vision is clearly special, and his feel for the game makes up for a lot of what is lacking in the athleticism department. He is a threat to pull up from just about anywhere, is crafty enough with his dribble to get to the basket, and - most dangerous of all – he is a constant threat to create easy looks for his teammates via the pass. There was an assortment of highlight reel passes on the night, the kind that you don’t expect a 6’6 18 year old to make.

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 5’8 standout Erving Walker from the 2008 class, and should have a few other ballhandling options returning from this year’s 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, 6’9, 210 lbs, SF/PF, Signed with Syracuse
10 points, 2 rebounds, 4-7 FG, 1-4 3PT, 1-2 FT in 17 minutes

Rodger Bohn

The Baltimore native had a fair showing in the McDonald’s game, giving fans a glimpse of the inside/outside game that he will take to Syracuse next year. He and future SU teammate Jonny Flynn showed outstanding chemistry, converting twice on pick and roll plays. Greene was on the receiving end, finishing one with a tough layup inside and the other with an alley oop dunk. The combo forward looked quite comfortable playing on the perimeter, knocking down one three pointer and handling the ball well. He showed flashes of why many compare him to Kevin Durant, given his length, athleticism, and inside/out skill set.

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, 6’8, SF, committed to Duke
10 pts, 4-7 fg, 0-3 pt, 2-2 ft, 4 reb, 1 asst in 17 minutes

Let’s make one thing clear – this game was about shot happy lead guards getting up and down the court, and athletic big men dunking. There wasn’t much of a place for a patient, crafty swingman like Kyle Singler. Touches were scarce, and his outside shot wasn’t 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 don’t 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, 6’0, PG, Signed with Syracuse
9 pts, 6 asst, 2 to, 3-7 fg, 1-3 3pt, 2-2 ft in 20 min

Jonathan Givony

One of the more pleasant surprises of the evening was the play of starting point guard Jonny Flynn. He performed his duties fairly well, creating offense off the dribble constantly thanks to his excellent ball-handling skills and quick first step and getting into the paint. Usually he would look to dish off to a teammate rather than finish the play himself, and in turn racked up quite a few assists for himself, particularly in the first half. His chemistry with fellow Syracuse commit Donte Green looked particularly promising, giving his future teammate a chance to show off his athleticism with some nice finishes around the rim. Flynn would have finished with even more assists had his other teammates done a better job of converting his passes.

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, 6’3, 195 lbs, PG, Signed with Memphis
5 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 TO’s, 2-5 FG, 0-1 3p, 1-2 FT, 22 minutes

Jonathan Givony

This was a pretty quiet game from Derrick Rose, never really getting into the flow of things due to the constant substitution patterns and not getting to show us just how electric of a point guard he can be off the dribble. He did a solid job finding the open man and running his very deep team, especially with some long outlet passes he threw from the backcourt to teammates streaking in transition. His jumper didn’t fall for him, but to his credit, he didn’t force the issue. One all-star game hardly defines a career, so Rose will still be the same extremely highly regarded prospect he was yesterday going into tomorrow.

Jerryd Bayless, 6’3, 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

Rodger Bohn

After an outstanding week of practices, Bayless came out a bit flat in the McDonald’s game. He was forced to play off of the ball for the majority of the game, giving him little opportunity to show his point guard skills. The Arizona recruit was able to show off his beautiful jumper on two successful three point attempts, which has better lift then any player the class of 2007 has to offer. Aside from that pair of trifectas, he never really seemed to get in the flow of the game and looked to shoot each and every time he got his hands on the ball, not exactly what you’d like to see out of a 6’3 guard. Jerryd will have the opportunity to put his offensive repertoire on display next year for the Wildcats, given their lack of a true point guard and Marcus Williams likely early entry to the NBA Draft.

Donte Greene Interview

Rodger Bohn

DraftExpress: You play scout for me. Give me a self evaluation of your performance tonight.

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 didn’t show my driving ability, but it was ok. It was a good game.

DraftExpress: Tell me a little about the role that you’re 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: I’m 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 NBA’s age limit?

Greene: Oh man, I don’t 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 what’s 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 don’t 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: You’re 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, you’re not going to be one and done. You’re going to be there all four years, I think. You just have to go in there and enjoy life…Enjoy being a teenager. I’m going to be 19 years old going into Syracuse. I’m 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. You’re going to see who has what, and it’s going to make the young guys go harder. It’s going to be real competitive, and it’s going to be great from the media.

DraftExpress: What’s the pressure like having all three shoe companies fighting to get you to play in their respective all-star games?

Greene: It’s tough. I was originally a Nike guy, but Reebok has been showing me mad love. I’ve gotta stick with Nike though. I can’t 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. I’ve 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 I’m taking a break for a while…Just lift weights, get ready. After that, I go to Serbia with the USA team.

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