Both teams then went on to defenseless walkthroughs of the handful of offensive sets theyd be using in the upcoming All-Star game this Saturday. From a scouting perspective, there wasnt much to be learned about the prospects from this portion of the practice. The players were all generally receptive, competent, and went through the walkthroughs with a respectable level of effort.
On the Blue Team, Thaddeus Young showed off his pretty fadeaway jumper on a few occasions, while Paul Harriss intensity was impossible to ignore on the Red Team, even in the basic walkthroughs. The practices concluded with each team running their own intra-squad scrimmage. The Blue Teams lasted for about 20 minutes, while the Red Team played for just 10, though there was much to be learned here.
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Blue Team scrimmage
Edgar Sosa, Jon Scheyer, Curtis Kelly, Deshawn Sims, and Jonathan Kreft matched up against Sherron Collins, Wayne Ellington, Thaddeus Young, Duke Crews, and Spencer Hawes in this intense intra-squad battle. The marquee matchup was that of the two centers, Washington-bound Spencer Hawes and FSU-bound Jonathan Kreft. Both measure in at approximately 70 with shoes, and though Hawes had the clear edge in the matchup, both were pretty impressive.
Hawes showed off his nose for the ball and touch around the basket to get his hands on a few offensive rebounds, as well as tipping a few others. He scored two put-backs in this manner, to go along with what he did by going to work in the post. On one occasion, Hawes made a nice fake, and then with his back facing the basket, showed off his awareness by laying it up over his head, without looking, for an easy swish, all with a man guarding him. On another occasion, he turned away from his man down low and faded away for a pretty jump hook, another score. On another play, he managed to pull down an errant pass thrown by a teammate, tiptoe along the sideline, regain his balance, and then have the awareness to kick it back out and not force the issue from a bad position. He also showed some prowess in the high-post, making a very nice backdoor pass to a cutter for the score.
Hawes may be low on athleticism, but his polish around the basket is remarkable for a high school senior. He has a vast array of post moves along with all the know-how to put them to use.
Kreft may not have had quite the showing Hawes did, but he managed to show a few flashes of what he can do. His only score from the post was a turnaround hook, as he didnt get many opportunities down low. He also showed off some passing skills from down low with a backdoor pass to a cutter. Kreft also had a jam over Hawes off a pass from a teammate, but like Hawes, Kreft isnt oozing with athleticism either. He doesnt possess nearly the polish as Hawes, but he has a nice base to work with in terms of skills. It will be interesting to see how he develops.
Thaddeus Young showed off an impressive mid-range jumper earlier in the practice, but he didnt get many opportunities to use it in the scrimmage. He hit one fallaway from mid-range and missed one other. He had a few finishes at the basket, including one athletic alley-oop jam from teammate Edgar Sosa. He also made one drive of his own, during which he appeared to be out of control, until he rebounded his own miss for an athletic putback. The Georgia Tech-bound Young, who measures in at 69, has a nice combination of size, length, and athleticism for a small forward, and appears to have the versatile skill set to go along with it.
Curtis Kelly, another 69 forward, had a tough time in most of the scrimmage. Kelly, UCONN-bound, plans to make the transition to small forward in college, though he played most of the scrimmage in the post. Kelly showed off an array of spins and hooks, though wasnt able to convert on any of them, and looked out of control on a few attempts. He did have one nice drive across the lane that he finished with a hook shot, though.
Kellys high school teammate, Louisville-bound Edgar Sosa, a 62 point guard, had similar troubles scoring, but was able to contribute elsewhere for his squad. Sosa missed a few outside attempts, but ran his offense well, making passes and not turning the ball over. He made a very nice drive-and-dish for an assist after getting a step on his man with a hesitation dribble. He also was breaking up passes on the defensive end, one of which led to him throwing an alley-oop down the court to teammate Young. Sosa did get one score in the scrimmage, a drive into the lane that he finished with a hook shot over an opposing big man.
Duke Crews, a 67 forward headed to Tennessee, was another player with a strong showing in this scrimmage, putting in hard work on both ends of the floor. Defensively, he showed great fundamentals and footwork on post defense, using them to contain Kreft on one play, a player five inches taller than him. He also showed off his athleticism with an impressive weakside block where he came out of nowhere to knock down a Kreft hookshot that was well into the air.
Offensively, he used spins and fakes in the post to get around or over his man, looking very impressive doing so. He also had the awareness to know when to kick it out of the post, doing so after trying a variety of moves that didnt work on one possession. He had a few other scores off slashes and drives, one of which he came off a backdoor screen for a powerful alley-oop jam.
The rest of the Blue Team had non-descript performances. Wayne Ellington (UNC) and Jon Scheyer (Duke) showed off impressive form on their mid-range and long-range jumpers, hitting and missing a few each.
Deshawn Sims (Michigan) hit two mid-range jumpers, one of which was off a spin move and a fake, but didnt do much else.
Red Team scrimmage
The Red Team scrimmage, which was significantly shorter and less revealing than the Blues, featured Tywon Lawson, Paul Harris, Dajuan Summers, Vernon Macklin, and Brandan Wright up against Demond Carter, Mike Jones, Obi Muonelo, Kevin Durant, and Brian Zoubek.
Durant, the reigning McDonalds Game MVP, was the best player on the court for the Red Team. He missed both of his three-point attempts, but smoothly hit a contested pull-up jumper from mid range and also made another score in transition. Durant also showed off his length and creativity on one drive where he took it to the basket and then wrapped the ball around his defender to pass to his teammate for a score.
Durants teammate, 66 Syracuse-bound Mike Jones, was featured in most of the rest of their squads possessions. Jones had a bit more trouble than Durant, missing a few mid-range shots and making one turnover on an out-of-control drive. He did finish one easy lay-up off a pass in the halfcourt and another in transition, but seemed to be forcing the issue for most of the scrimmage.
On the other side of this intra-squad matchup, Harris -- also headed to Syracuse -- led the way both physically and vocally. Even louder than he was in drills, the ever-energetic and charismatic Harris was constantly egging on his teammates with various phrases of positive reinforcement.
Harris hit one mid-range jumper, missed a three-pointer, and had a tremendous slam in transition as he went past two opposing defenders. Harris has extremely broad shoulders and a large, chiseled frame, similar to that of Michigan States Shannon Brown or the Miami Heats Dwayne Wade. He also possesses excellent length and athleticism, which he uses to get into the lane and finish in a variety of ways.
Tywon Lawson, a 511 future UNC point guard, was running the point for Harris squad, and did a solid job doing so. He hit a three-pointer off the dribble, a fadeaway jumper on the baseline, and has a nice assist in transition.
It was, unfortunately for observers, a very brief scrimmage. Dajuan Summers, a 69" powerforward headed to Georgetown, showed off a great combination of strength, length, and athleticism, possessing similar characteristics physically to Floridas Al Horford. Summers had two huge dunks in transition, a nice drive for a score, and just missed a toughly thrown alley-oop that wouldve been for a jam. He showed decent form on his jump shot from mid-range in both practice and scrimmage, but wasnt able to convert in either. Summers showed no real moves in the post, but he may just have not had the chance to yet.
The rest of the group, including highly touted prospect Brandan Wright, a 69 PF headed to UNC, did little of note.
Tomorrow the Red and Blue teams will face each other in an inter-squad scrimmage, assumed to be for a full 40 minutes, which should be much more revealing for all of the prospects.
After the scrimmages, the practice had concluded, and the players were free to relax or leave, which most of them did. But some stuck around to work on their shots, most notably Edgar Sosa and Paul Harris. Sosa wandered from court to court practicing his three-point shot, which has pretty good form. While most of the players were sitting around, getting re-hydrated, or talking with others, Sosa was consistently working on his shot for a good half hour.
Demond Carter, Vernon Macklin, and Spencer Hawes, among others, also shot around for awhile. Hawes impressively hit about 10 baseline three-pointers in a row at one point, despite not having the best of forms.
The most notable work put in was that of Paul Harris. Harris outside shot is less than stellar, with his form possessing multiple noticeable problems. He often doesnt fully extend his arm, he often pushes forward rather than having a more upward release, and his arm occasionally drifts to either the left or the right.
Harris, working with a coach, was performing a common drill in which one stands in front of the rim with his feet on the ground, practicing the full extension of the arm and the upward release while shooting into the basket. As you get more comfortable, you gradually move back, further away from the basket. Harris did this, with picture perfect form, all of his problems rectified, up until a little bit past the free-throw line. The coach kept emphasizing the extension and upward release, and Harris showed the ability to do both. The problem is that in game situations, his mind is still conditioned to shooting the other way, which he likely has for quite a long time.
But with work and dedication, both of which he has, and continued practice on his form, over time his form should improve, as will his ability to hit the outside jumper. Couple the idea of that with his ability to get to the hole using his impressive strength, length, creativity, and athleticism, and you have quite the force. It will be interesting to see how Harris jump-shot develops in the coming months and years.