Roundball Classic Practices: Day One

Roundball Classic Practices: Day One
Apr 02, 2007, 06:01 pm
Practices for the 2007 Roundball Classic kicked off on Sunday, with USC star O.J. Mayo in attendance. Mayo, who had been debating whether to play in the Roundball or Jordan games, was dominant in Sunday’s practice session. Gani Lawal, Anthony Randolph, and DeAndre Jordan were also amongst the more impressive performers of the day. In outside news, Roundball selection Herb Pope was shot three times Saturday night at a party he attended. His injuries are not life threatening. DraftExpress was on hand to provide detailed reports on the top players, as well as obtain interviews with both Anthony Randolph and DeAndre Jordan.

Herb Pope Shot

From the media accounts, Alquippa HS star Herb Pope was shot three times Saturday night at a party. His injuries do not appear to be life threatening, although this is just the latest incident in what has been a troubled career for Pope. He has changed high schools five different times in four years, and now was out at a party three hours before he was scheduled to fly to the Roundball game. He was driven to the hospital by an unidentified person, and told police that he did not know who shot him, nor why they shot him. DraftExpress wishes Pope the best in recovery, and hopes that this young man is able to get his head on his shoulders and stop putting himself in such compromising situations.

Practice Recap

Practices for the Roundball Classic were different from those for the McDonald’s game in that both teams were on the same court, with each team having their own half. This allowed evaluators to get a look at both teams, as opposed to having to run back and forth from court to court at the McDonald’s practices. Pick and roll drills were highly emphasized in the Roundball practices, with trainers stressing the fundamentals of running the pick and roll properly. There was also a short scrimmage between the two teams, and below are the top performers that day one had to offer:

O.J. Mayo, 6’5, PG/SG, Signed with USC

Mayo started off the Roundball practices just as he was in the McDonald’s practices: Hands down the best player on the court. He simply did whatever he wanted out there, both in terms of running a team and scoring for himself. While there were a few instances of questionable shot selection on the day, he did an outstanding job of getting everyone else involved in the mean time. The Huntington star showed the ability to defend anyone on the court when he chose to exert forth the necessary effort, and put on a downright incredible shooting display after practice. As he hit countless three pointer after three pointer, a former college coach sitting next near by mentioned that he had counted Mayo hit at least 12 consecutive three pointers, all from well beyond the collegiate three point line. Things are surely starting off on the right foot for O.J., and hopefully he is able to continue his dominance all the way through the Roundball game itself, so we don’t have another repeat of the McDonald’s game.

Anthony Randolph, 6’10, SF/PF, Signed with LSU

While Randolph was not necessarily one of the best performers statistically on the day, it is always quite intriguing when you see a 6’10 player with legitimate small forward skills. He was outstanding putting the ball on the floor and hitting the midrange jumper, while creating problems on the offensive glass with his length and athleticism. The LSU recruit struggled a bit shooting the ball from beyond the arc and defending smaller players, despite the fact that he has shown the ability to do both on prior occasions. As Anthony will tell you himself, consistency is his biggest problem. Either way, he is one of the more intriguing prospects in terms of NBA potential that the 2007 Roundball game has to offer.

DeAndre Jordan, 7’0, C, Signed with Texas A&M

After going through a scare of possibly losing head coach Billy Gillespie to another school, the seven footer can sleep a little better at night knowing that Gillespie will be in College Station when he steps foot on campus this fall. Jordan showed off his remarkable athleticism throughout the practice session, blocking numerous shots and dunking absolutely everything he touched inside of the paint. The big man still needs a ton of refinement in terms of both his low post moves and face the basket game, but his upside is absolutely off of the charts. With DeAndre’s combination of size, athleticism, and an NBA ready body, it would have been very hard to imagine that he would have not at least tested the waters for the 2007 NBA Draft, had the age limit not been put in place.

Evan Turner, 6’6, PG/SG/SF, Signed with Ohio State

Chicago native Evan Turner was quietly one of the more consistent performers on the first day of practice. He handled the ball well in the open floor, got all of his teammates involved, and shot the ball much better from the perimeter then he has in the past. While comparisons to Brandon Roy might be a bit far fetched at the moment, the similarities in their game are certainly present. Turner has shown the ability to play all three perimeter positions, and might be forced into playing all three at times next year at Ohio State, if Mike Conley Jr. decides to throw his name into the NBA Draft. In order for him to effectively reach his potential however, he must work diligently upon his consistency shooting the ball from the perimeter as well as his level of strength (weighs only 185 lbs at the moment).

Gani Lawal, 6’9, PF, Signed with Georgia Tech

The freak athlete from Georgia carried over his gritty play from the McDonald’s game into the practice sessions at Roundball, doing every little thing you’d like to see out of a big man. He ran the floor well, did a good job catching the ball, and made his presence felt on the defensive end. The guards he teamed with had no problem getting him the rock inside, as he caught everything and normally finished with an emphatic slam dunk. Lawal still offers very little in terms of actual low post moves, but the potential is surely there for him and he is clearly one of the players with the most to offer in terms of NBA potential here at the Roundball.

Kevin Love, 6’9, PF/C, Signed with UCLA

Oregon big man UCLA has continued to quietly be one of the top performers throughout all of the high school all-star games, despite his lack of high flying dunks or blocked shots that so many of the other big men prospects offer. He did an excellent job rebounding the ball and throwing his storied outlet passes, starting a fast break before the guard has even received the ball. He was great shooting the ball from 17 feet and in, showing the potential to play as more of a face the basket player for the Bruins if need be. Of course he was a bit outmatched athletically by the freak athlete big men in the game, but this is a challenge that Love has constantly faced (and conquered) throughout his career, so it shouldn’t be a problem by the time he hit’s the hardwood at UCLA.

Jonny Flynn, 5’11, PG, Signed with Syracuse

Aside from Mayo, there has not been a player who has been more impressive then Niagara Falls standout Jonny Flynn. He has done a remarkable job controlling the tempo of the game and making everyone around him better, despite the fact that he has the reputation for being a “shoot first” point guard. The Syracuse recruit displayed the ability to get into the lane on anybody, while also playing outstanding defense on O.J. Mayo. He has carried over his production from the McDonald’s game into the Roundball Classic practices, and if he is able to keep it up, should surely contend for the starting point guard position next year at Syracuse.

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

Hickson’s developing skill set was put on display yet again, with the stage now being the Roundball Classic. His face the basket game has improved leaps and bounds over the last year. His improving perimeter game in addition to his solid low post skills, great body, and good athleticism should allow him to contribute immediately next year at North Carolina State, despite their already loaded frontcourt. Along with Jonny Flynn and Gani Lawal, J.J. is the only other player to have played well in every single McDonald’s practice, the game itself, and now the first Roundball practice session.

Anthony Randolph Interview

DraftExpress: Tell me a little bit about what happened with the McDonald’s game? Did you get any explanation as to why you were snubbed, given that virtually everyone has you as a top 15 guy in the country?

Randolph: I don’t think I was snubbed. They put the best players in the game. I’m just grateful that I was chosen for the Roundball Classic and the Derby Classic, and that’s what I’m supposed to play in. Everything happens for a reason. I wasn’t supposed to be in that game.

DraftExpress: Tell me a little bit about how your high school season went.

Randolph: We did kind of bad. We didn’t make the playoffs. I don’t think it was issue of talent, but it was an issue of us gelling and stuff.

DraftExpress: With Glen Davis entering the NBA Draft, have the coaches at LSU spoken with you about how your role might have to change a little?

Randolph: Not really. It’s the same thing that they talked to me about. They just want me to come in as a basketball player and want me to get better as both a basketball player and a person.

DraftExpress: Now have they told you what position you’re going to play next year?

Randolph: No, not really. They just said that I’m going to come in and play basketball and they’re going to make me a basketball player. That’s all I can ask for.

DraftExpress: What areas of your game do you feel you need to improve upon the most?

Randolph: My consistency. Sometimes I can hit shots when I’m hot, and others it’s just a little off. Other then that, it’s just my size and understanding of the game.

DraftExpress: With the AAU camp scene changing and there only being the Nike camp until Reebok recently announced that they were holding their own camp, do you prefer it with only two camps, or with all three major camps?

Randolph: I like it with all three camps because I feel it’s more competitive. When you have only two camps, you’re focusing on a much smaller amount of people and there’s not going to be as much focus of helping as many players get better.

DraftExpress: What is the pressure like from the three different shoe companies to play in their respective camps and all-star games?

Randolph: Really there is no pressure. I just play basketball to have fun. That’s what I’m going to do.

DraftExpress: So how did you decide which camps and all-star games to play in personally?

Randolph: Well I knew I was going to play in the Adidas game because that’s who I was with. I knew if I was selected for the Roundball Classic, I was going to play in this game because there is such a historic atmosphere. So many great players have played in it and it would have been a great honor just to be selected, so I knew I would come play here if I was selected.

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

Randolph: Honestly, at first I didn’t like it because I was one of the kids who thought I had a chance to go (to the NBA). Now I realize that I have a lot of work to do and it’s going to get me better by going to college. I will have that college experience. College will allow me to put on weight and it will make me better as a person.

DraftExpress: If there is no age limit, what are you doing? College or the NBA?

Randolph: Now, I would go to college. Before if all of this wouldn’t have happened, I would have tried to go (to the NBA).

DraftExpress: Who is your pick for the Ohio State/Florida game?

Randolph: Florida. They’ve got everybody coming back. That’s just experience. Ohio State is pretty good, but I think it would be an upset if Ohio State won.

DraftExpress: When selecting a college, were you looking for a school that would give you the opportunity to be “one and done” after your freshman year?

Randolph: Not so much be one and done, but if I was ready…and everything went right and I was able to go one and done, yes. Mostly just where I’d be comfortable and where I could see myself for four years. I looked at each college and told myself “can I see myself for four years and get my education, while still having fun?”

DeAndre Jordan Interview

DraftExpress: What was going through your mind when all of the rumors of Coach Gillespie were leaving were circulating?

Jordan: I wasn’t really too worried about it. I just tried to focus on school and stuff like that. I can’t go to school if I don’t graduate high school. I wasn’t too worried about that, because if you’re going to be successful, you’re going to be successful anywhere you go. It doesn’t matter what school or what coach you played for. I just kept calm while everyone else was panicking a bit. I just kept calm and waited to see what he was going to do. I just kept calm, that’s it.

DraftExpress: If Coach Gillespie would have taken the job at Kentucky, or somewhere else, what would you have done?

Jordan: I can’t really tell you right now. That didn’t happen, so there’s nothing to talk about. If he did leave, I probably would have left and went with him. I would have just looked at all my options.

DraftExpress: When selecting a college, were you looking to go to a school where you would have the opportunity to be one and done?

Jordan: I wanted to go to a school that had a good coach. I didn’t care about the location, but I had to like the style of play. I wanted a lot of up and down play, a team that got the ball into the post a lot. A school who focused a lot on defense. I wanted to go to a school where I could not make a name for the school, not one necessarily already has a name for itself and I would be in the line of top recruits. I wanted to go somewhere where I could make a name for myself, and the school.

DraftExpress: What are your thoughts on the NBA’s age rule

Jordan: They made the rule, so I guess they think it’s the right thing. I just feel that if a player is physically ready to go to the league, they should have the opportunity to do so.

DraftExpress: What areas of your game do you think you need to work on the most before you hit Texas A&M, and then possibly the NBA?

Jordan: My perimeter shot. My 15-17 footer. Then just my perimeter defense. If a team comes out with a guy whose 6’6 and I have to guard a guy who is 6’6...a wing….then I have to work on my perimeter defense.

DraftExpress: What is the pressure like from the three major shoe companies to play in their respective camps and their respective all-star games?

Jordan: There’s no pressure. I’m just loyal to the people who have been loyal to me. Whether it’s Reebok, Adidas, or Nike, I was just going to be loyal to the people who were loyal to me.

DraftExpress: Did they give you any explanation as to why you didn’t make the McDonald’s game?

Jordan: No, there was no explanation. I just wasn’t selected. Everything happens for a reason. I just have to come here and go hard. I can’t come here and think about how I didn’t make the McDonald’s game. I mean, this isn’t the rookie game. Half of these guys played in the McDonald’s game, so I have to play this game as if it were any other all star game.

DraftExpress: I mean, you’re a top 10 player in the country on every recruiting service. How does a top 10 player not get picked for the McDonald’s game?

Jordan: (laughs) I don’t know. I have no idea. I’m pretty sure there was a reason, but I don’t know what it was off of the top of my head. I can’t dwell on that though. I just have to focus on Roundball.

DraftExpress: Ohio State or Florida?

Jordan: Florida

DraftExpress: Why?

Jordan: Florida is mature. They’ve been in this situation last year. I think maturity is going to get the best. Ohio State is a good team, but I think maturity is going to get the best of them.

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