Hoop Summit Day One (International focus, official measurements)
Considering this was their first day here in Portland, it wasnt surprising to see the group appear a bit fatigued by the end of the second practice, and while play got a bit sloppy at times, a few players were able to stand out.
The first practice began with a brief stretching session using bands and foam rollers followed by a few minutes of five man weave drills. With warm ups out of the way, Bob Cimmino began to focus the group on the two things he hopes to emphasize during the game: defense and transition play. Taking jetlag into consideration, Cimmino, the coach of the storied Mt. Vernon High School, decided to slow things down a bit in the first session, installing a few variations of the half court set the team will be running on Saturday and letting the group break into pairs to do some shooting to rest their legs for the second session.
One of the more interesting pairs to watch was Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving. Committed to different sides of the Duke North Carolina rivalry, the two have become very good friends in the last year. Taking playful jabs at one another throughout practice, fans of Tobacco Road basketball will have a lot to look forward to next season, as their friendship only adds another dimension to the competitiveness and talent theyll bring to the rivalry. On the whole, this group of high school stars seems to have developed an excellent rapport.
The second session featured a four quarter scrimmage pitting the high schoolers against a collection of local college players from the University of Portland and Oregon State. Despite coming out a bit flat and losing the first quarter 25 to 17, the Select Team picked up their intensity despite tired legs to pull out the next two periods by one point before winning the last scrimmage in convincing fashion 36 to 27. Matching up with players almost four years their senior, it was interesting to see how the team fared against outside competition.
Though we didnt see the playmaking from Knight that wed hoped, he was splitting time between the one and the two. When he was running the show, Knight was more vocal than we saw him in any other practice weve watched recently, telling his teammates where to go. On top of his showing offensively, he also showed some nice things defensively. Knight has exceptional lateral burst, allowing him to prevent dribble penetration and create some turnovers with his length. Built like an NFL wide receiver, this was much closer to what we expected out of Knight coming in.
Here is an interview (and highlight reel) we conducted with Marshall last week, which perfectly highlights his outstanding intangibles and unselfish nature, things that will greatly benefit him in making the transition to the high level of college basketball.
-Kyrie Irving went shot for shot with Brandon Knight throughout the day, showing great range, catch and shoot ability, and a quick release off the dribble. An extremely well rounded player, Irvings competitiveness was apparent in the scrimmages, as he was always looking for the ball down the stretch.
-Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes, the MVPs of the McDonalds Game, both showed many of the positive qualities they did in Columbus, but werent getting touches as consistently as they likely will on Saturday. Two of the most polished high school players in this glass, each contributed in multiple ways with their court vision, intelligence, and touch from the inside and out.
-Terrence Jones looked exponentially more comfortable in transition than he did in half court sets today, able to use his athleticism to his advantage. His length, speed, and ball handling make him an extremely effective player in up-tempo settings. Hell need to round out his perimeter repertoire to improve what he brings to the table when games slow down.
-Tobias Harris is in attendance, but wont be practicing or playing in the game because of a broken foot. Spending most of todays practices on the bench in an immobilizing boot, Harris is a handful of weeks away from returning from the floor. Considering the timeframe, hell likely be back to 100% in time to spend the summer preparing for his freshman year at Tennessee.
-Meyers Leonard is far from a finished product, but he flashes the ability to knock down catch and shoot jumpers out to the college three point line on multiple occasions today an interesting asset for a near 7-footer to say the least.
Select Interview Excerpts
-DraftExpress: You and Harrison Barnes were named Game MVPs down in Columbus, are you excited to be playing with him instead of against him this week?
Jared Sullinger: Definitely, Harrison is a really good player, he can get involved in a lot of ways offensively and he has great intensity. He does so many things well. Hes an awesome player, hes kind of hard to describe.
DraftExpress: What are your thoughts on next season at OSU?
Jared Sullinger: Im excited about what we can do. I know Evan [Turner] just signed an agent recently, but I think were going to surprise a lot of people. There is a lot of talent still there and we have a lot of guys coming in. I think we can prove people wrong.
-DraftExpress: Aside from Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson, are you familiar with any of the players on the international roster?
Harrison Barnes: Aside from those two, no, I dont know any of them.
DraftExpress: Some analysts have questioned the strength of the 2010 class, what are your thoughts on that, and does the fact that last years team lost motivate you to prove the critics wrong.
Harrison Barnes: I think our class is as good as any. We have a great class. It is our priority to win the game.
-DraftExpress: After all the trash talking done in the video we posted, have you gotten back at the UNC commits now that your committed to the National Champions?
Kyrie Irving: I havent yet. Initially, they wouldnt talk to me. I havent gotten back at them yet. Im waiting for the game next season.