Roundball Classic Practices: Day Two

Roundball Classic Practices: Day Two
Apr 03, 2007, 10:41 pm
The second and final day of practices for the Roundball Classic came and went, with O.J. Mayo and Jonny Flynn leading the way yet again. The two point guards went head to head with the ultimate intensity during the final prelim before the game, while Kevin Love, DeAndre Jordan, and Gani Lawal were also awfully impressive. DraftExpress was there to give you the latest on these five amongst others, as well as to provide interviews with Jonny Flynn[ and J.J. Hickson.

Here are some of the notable performers from Day Two:

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

Mayo’s work ethic was immediately evident during the practice session, with him being the very first player on the court before things started putting up a countless number of jump shots. During the drills, his excellent fundamentals and understanding of the game were put on display, seemingly teaching all of the other players the proper fundamentals in terms of coming off screens and running the pick and roll. The USC recruit was the most competitive player on either team during the drills, becoming very frustrated in the rare occasion that he actually would miss a shot.

O.J. had a heated battle with Jonny Flynn, with neither backing down from each other. He had showed off his beautiful crossover dribble move and played outstanding defense on the super hot Syracuse recruit, forcing the diminutive guard into many contested shots. He displayed the ability to post smaller guards, catching the ball on the blocks and making a remarkable fade away jumper from about 17 feet away. The motivation and drive that was displayed by Mayo on the floor is reminiscent of Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan, a rarity for a player at such a young age. On the downside however, he did force a few passes and his shot selection was a bit questionable at times. All in all though, this was another outstanding performance by Mayo in the second practice session.

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

Aside from Mayo, there hasn’t been another player that has been more productive then the tiny guard from Niagara Falls. He played outstanding defense on Mayo throughout both days of practice, making him work to get off whatever he could from the perimeter. He was automatic in the shooting drills, rarely missing,whether from the midrange or from beyond the arc. Things only got better in the scrimmage for Flynn, who went at it with Mayo harder then anyone had in both the McDonald’s and Roundball practices. He was outstanding controlling the tempo on the court, despite the fact that he is a bit of a ball dominant point guard. Flynn’s drive and dish abilities will surely make him a contender, if not the favorite for the starting point guard position next year at Syracuse.

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

Love continued his dominance inside, both rebounding the ball and scoring on the blocks. He showed the ability to consistently score down low versus taller, more athletic defenders via a plethora of turnaround jumpers out of the post, with the large majority kissing the glass before they went through the net. The Oregon native was able to get his shot up over athletic marvel DeAndre Jordan through a series of shot fakes that often drew the Texas big man up in the air, resulting in Love drawing a subsequent foul call. With each passing all-star game and practice, it is becoming more and more evident that Kevin will succeed as a Bruin, despite his athletic deficiencies.

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

The seven foot freak put his talents on display in the second day of practice, using his immense physical abilities on both ends of the floor. His athletic ability reminds a bit of Dwight Howard at the same age, as opposing players had no choice but to foul Jordan or let him score, once he got his hands on the ball inside the paint. By no means does Jordan have post moves that are even somewhat reminiscent of Howard, but the potential for sheer physical dominance is certainly there. On the defensive end, the future Aggie made every single offensive player think twice before putting a shot up in the lane. His size, timing, and leaping ability have proven to be enough to change the entire score of a game. While DeAndre is still incredibly raw, the potential is clearly evident for him to be a one and done player once he hits Texas A&M, because he possesses absolutely everything that NBA teams are looking for in a young center prospect and has shown the ability to constantly get better over the years.

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

After a very promising practice Sunday, Randolph fell off a bit in the second day of preparation for the Roundball game. He was unable to get into the rhythm of the game, not finishing inside and getting pushed around quite a bit in the paint. On the bright side, Anthony boasted his nice perimeter skills through his ability to handle the ball, whether it be in the open floor or in the half court set. He owns a first step that only a handful of 6’10 players out there can brag about, allowing him to get to the rim on virtually any power forward in the country. The potential is absolutely limitless for this 6’10 forward, and with even average refinement, he should see himself in the NBA before it is all said and done.

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

While the Georgia Tech recruit is certainly not the most skilled big man here at Roundball, there has not been another post here in Chicago who has played with the passion and intensity that he has. He has run the floor and shown a motor unlike any other player down low in this event, never giving up on a loose ball and always finding himself getting his hands on the ball around the rim. His excellent hands and ability to finish inside have made him a favorite of the East guards, even though he is lacking incredibly in terms of pure talent. Look for Gani to take his passionate play to Atlanta next year, where he will be able to contribute next year for the Yellow Jackets.

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

Hickson came through yet again with his automatic mid-range jumpers, in addition to his rapidly improving post moves. He has been arguably the most unstoppable big man with the ball in his hands thus far, killing you away from the basket just as well as he does at the rim. The Georgia native’s shot selection and post defense can be questionable at times, but those are certainly two areas that Sidney Lowe and his staff will be able to help him on by the time he is ready to leave the Wolfpack for the next level.

Justin Burrell, 6’8, PF, Signed with St. John’s

One of the less heralded players in the game, Burrell came out and surprised many with his inspired play down low and ability to hit the fifteen foot jumper. His freakish athleticism and nose for the ball allowed him to be one of the more productive players throughout the practice session. Justin is an absolute steal for the Red Storm, committing to them when he was an unheralded and undersized post out of New York City who only held offers from St. John’s and Hofstra. Look for Burrell to be an immediate impact player next year for St. John’s with his gritty, athletic style of play.

Jonny Flynn Interview

DraftExpress: Jonny, many people viewed you as a shoot first point guard, yet you came out in the McDonald’s game and looked like as pure a point guard as anyone in the game. Tell me a little about why some have that misconception of you.

Flynn: Well the teams they see me on, like my AAU and high school team, that’s the position I’m put in. Around here, McDonald’s game and Roundball Classic, we are all good players so I can fall back and don’t have to carry the load of shooting, as I would on my AAU or high school team. It just felt good to be playing the position that I’m going to be playing at Syracuse.

DraftExpress: Tell me what your role is going to be next year at Syracuse.

Flynn: I think the same thing I’m doing here, that’s what I’m doing here. Like you said, everybody thinks I’m going to run the two. I’m like “I’m 5’5! How am I going to run the two at Syracuse, in the Big East?” I’m just trying to come out and show everyone that I can get my teammates involved and lock up defensively.

DraftExpress: Now it’s no secret that you and Paul Harris are extremely close. Has he told you about why he struggled a bit early on this past season at Syracuse?

Flynn: He just told me that college is way different from high school. It’s a big jump from high school to college. You have to be way prepared mentally for all the things outside of basketball. Balancing basketball, schoolwork, social life, things like that. It just took him a little longer to get adapted to college life, and towards the end of the season, he just started clicking on all cylinders.

DraftExpress: Now have they told you if you will be able to go in and start as a freshman, or if you will have the opportunity to start as a freshman?

Flynn: The thing about Syracuse is that they give you the chance to go out and start. It’s not like “this guy is starting”, or anything like that. They give everyone a chance to lose their job. If somebody is outworking you, you might not be playing as much. That’s what I like about Coach Boeheim and his coaching staff. They give you a chance to work and go out there and earn your spot.

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

Flynn: I’m not really fond of that rule. It hurts people from making a living. Some people aren’t meant to go to college, and can’t go to college and do the bookwork. Some people aren’t gifted like that mentally to do that. You look at tennis and golf, where you can be 13 years old and play pro. Why can’t you do it in basketball? I don’t get it. I don’t like the rule. Not saying that I could have done it, but I just don’t like the rule.

DraftExpress: Now with the GC Ballers, you guys played on the Nike, Reebok, Adidas circuits…

Flynn: We played in everything! We didn’t really have a sponsor. We were everywhere!

DraftExpress: (laughs) Exactly. With you not having a set sponsor and playing in events hosted by all three shoe companies, what was the pressure like from the three shoe companies to play in their respective all-star games and camps?

Flynn: There was a lot of pressure, especially coming down to camps. Reebok has always shown me love. That’s where I blew up at two years ago, at ABCD camp, so I had to go back to them last year. Reebok was where all the love was shown.

DraftExpress: So what made you decide to play in the Roundball game?

Flynn: Because of Sonny Vacarro and the relationship that I have with Reebok. I don’t have a relationship with Adidas. I know the people at Adidas or Nike, but I don’t have a relationship with them like I do with Sonny. It’s like a family here at Reebok, and that’s why I like it.

DraftExpress: What are your thoughts on how the summer camp scene has changed? At first it was only going to be the Nike camp, but now Reebok has announced that they will be having a camp as well. Do you prefer two camps, or all three camps like years past?

Flynn: I like what it’s doing now. They’re getting all of the best players at one camp. You’re getting EVERYBODY at one camp, so there are not a lot of players who shouldn’t be there. The only thing is that it’s limiting people to get looked at, like the people who come out of the woodwork and blow up. It’s limiting those people, but this is good. They’re teaching us the right things at an early age.

DraftExpress: Tell me how it feels to have proven all of your critics wrong in the past year and a half that you actually deserve a scholarship at Syracuse? As I’m sure you heard, when you first committed, everyone said that Syracuse only took you to get Paul Harris…

Flynn: That was the fire behind my workouts. Every time I walked in the gym, I thought “people really think I’m a package deal and I can’t play ball” and stuff like that. That helped me out a lot. I thank you for all of the people who said that. It helped me become a better person, just to prove them wrong.

J.J. Hickson Interview

DraftExpress: You had a pretty solid performance in the McDonald’s game. Give me a self evaluation of how you felt you played?

Hickson: I think I played real well. I think I showcased my talents and what I can do, as well as what I need help on. I’m trying to get to college and show the world what I can do.

DraftExpress: Why did you pick NC State, given that they have a first year coach in Sidney Lowe?

Hickson: That’s one of the main reasons that I picked NC State, because he was a first year coach.. He played there, he won a national championship, so he knows what it takes to get there…the skills that it takes to get there. He knows what a team has to put together to get there. He pushes his players to work hard, and I’m trying to go there and be great.

DraftExpress: Now you have really expanded your perimeter game that wasn’t really existent in the summer. How have you been able to extend your shooting range so much in such a short period of time?

Hickson: Just a lot of hard work in the gym. I shoot endless shots in the gym working on my 18 footer. Just catching the ball, taking my time, and working on proper mechanics. Just working hard at it.

DraftExpress: Has Coach Lowe spoken with you specifically about what your role is going to be next year, with you having Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley playing similar positions?

Hickson: He didn’t tell me my specific role, but he told me that he expects me to come in and be a leader on and off the court, and to push my teammates.

DraftExpress: What are your thoughts on the way the summer camp circuit has changed? Nike appeared to be the only camp, but now Reebok has announced that they will be holding a summer camp as well. Do you prefer it with two camps, or with all three as in year’s past?

Hickson: I don’t really care. I like it better with three camps because you have more kids who can go and make a name for themselves, so I like three camps better.

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

Hickson: I mean, I’m 50/50 on it. As a ball player, I would like to see high school players be able to go right to the league. You have to look at the other side of it. People good in high school may not be good in the NBA, or fit that mold as an NBA player. So I’m 50/50.

DraftExpress: With you choosing NC State, were you looking for a school that you would have the opportunity to be one and done at?

Hickson: That could be a possibility. I’m not going there thinking I’m just going to be one year and done. I’m going in there with the right mindset of just working hard. Then if the right opportunity presents itself, I’ll talk about it with my family and my coaches and just go from there.

DraftExpress: Ohio State or Florida?

Hickson: Florida.

DraftExpress: Tell me about the pressure that you receive as an elite player to play in their respective all-star games and camps?

Hickson: That’s just the business side of basketball. What camps you’re going to and who sponsors you in the summer. Whoever sponsors you in the summer is what camp or all-star game you’re supposed to go to.

DraftExpress: Why did you choose to play in the Roundball as opposed to the Jordan or Adidas games?

Hickson: Because the best players are going to be here. There’s a lot of talent here and everyone here is competitive. That’s why I chose to play in the Roundball game.

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