With World Select Team alumni Patrick Mills and Nicolas Batum in attendance, the international practice culminated a week of hard work with a short session Thursday morning. After warming up and getting some shots up, the teams went back and forth, working on their full court pressure and zone offense. There were a number of players that stood out, but none more so than the pair from Findlay Prep, Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson.
We already wrote about Thompson after the first practice we saw, and he continued his strong play today. Scoring on three consecutive possessions with dunks during the scrimmage and numerous others throughout the day, Thompson's athleticism allows him to stand out much more against this group of international prospects than it did last week in Columbus against his high school peers. It will be interesting to see if he finds similar success in the game tomorrow.
More impressive than Joseph's play on offense was his play on defensive. He and Tristan Thompson gave their teammates fits during the scrimmage when asked to apply full court pressure. Showing excellent lateral quickness and good length, Joseph proved to be a very pesky defender. It will be interesting to see how he fares against the likes on Brandon Knight and Kyrie Irving tomorrow.
-Enes Kanter performed well once against, but wasn't getting touches as frequently as he did during the first practice we saw. He knocked down the open looks he got in pick and pop situations and made the most of his opportunities.
-Nikola Mirotic was impressive once again. He shows a very high basketball IQ, seemingly always in the right place at the right time. He has unorthodox mechanics on his jumper, but displays outstanding touch from the inside and outside.
-Dejan Musli looked a bit better today, scoring on a couple of quick moves against Rob Loe, contesting shots, and doing his best to use his body down low despite his severe lack of physical strength.
-Yanick Moreira saw substantial minutes in the scrimmage today, showing some tools in the process. Extremely long and skinny, the Angolan big man displayed soft touch and a nice activity level on both ends, It's pretty clear that he's still growing into his body at this point, but his upside is very interesting, and he's definitely a prospect worth keeping an ear out for down the road.
International Interview Excerpts
Enes Kanter: My old team, Fenerbahce, wanted me to sign a six year contract. My dream has always been to play in the NBA, so I decided to leave.
DraftExpress: A lot has been made about the eligiblity of European players in the past year after the Deniz Kilicli situation. Will you be eligible immediately next season?
Enes Kanter: Yes, definitely.
DraftExpress: The biggest obstacle to making that jump often revolves around money paid to players before making the jump. Were you paid during your time with Fenerbahce?
Enes Kanter: No, I don't know anything about that.
High School Practice
After spending the last half of practice getting up and down against some local college players yesterday, the entire practice today was dedicated to a similarly structured scrimmage. Unfortunately, with the gym packed with NBA scouts, the Oregon State players who had kept things close were unable to attend. The high school prospects won each 10 minute quarter convincingly before playing amongst themselves for a few extra minutes at the end of practice, with a number of players showing extremely well.
Harrison Barnes came alive today, getting to the rim on a couple of isolations from the top of the key and being extremely opportunistic. Barnes was clearly pressing in front of the NBA audience, forcing the action in a way that we often don't see from him. Immensely talented, polished, athletic, and possessing good size for his position, Barnes is an extremely versatile offensive player. Knocking down a couple of deep jumpers, putting the ball on the floor to use his exceptional body control at the rim, and using his athleticism to crash the glass and get out in transition, Barnes showed the full spectrum of his talented offensively. He still leaves a bit to be desired defensively, but he's incredibly refined for a player on the offensive end.
Brandon Knight followed up his improved play yesterday with an even better performance today. He's settled for fewer and fewer jumpers in each practice that we've seen. He did a great job getting to the rim both against the local players and his teammates. Doing a much better job making the easy play when looking to score and using his quickness and court vision to set his teammates up with open looks, today's practice let Knight highlight his strengths.
-Terrance Jones stood out immediately in the first scrimmage, looking poised to take over the game in front of all the scouts. Knocking down an NBA three, getting out in transition as he often does, and using his excellent frame defensively, Jones is still refining his skill set, but has all the tools to make an impact in an up-tempo system next season and a ton of long-term upside.
-Patric Young is one of the most aggressive players around the basket that you'll see at the high school level. Looking to dunk absolutely everything, Young has a very strong frame and a knack for crashing the offensive glass. He got beat a couple of times in the post today defensively, but could become a very good defender with additional experience.
-Reggie Bullock continues to be one of the high school team's more effective catch and shoot threats. He shows nice range and good touch, though his release remains a bit low.