At the Jordan Classic: Main Event and Regional Game Recaps

At the Jordan Classic: Main Event and Regional Game Recaps
Apr 24, 2006, 12:35 am
The main event for Saturday’s Jordan Classic took place center-stage in the greatest arena in the world, Madison Square Garden. The stars were lined up along the court; LL Cool J, T.I., Vince Carter, Rudy Gay, and none other than Michael Jordan himself. The home team, wearing white and blue, defeated the away team, wearing red and black, by a final score of 108-95 in a game where no one was really worrying about the score. Kevin Durant and Thaddeus Young took the MVP honors for their respective teams, and considering both of them have just only begun to scratch the surface of their potential, it’s not a stretch to label them as the two best prospects participating. No one player stood out in a dominant fashion. Given the nature of these all-star games, the players were forcing things a bit, leading to plenty of mistakes on the floor.

DraftExpress Jordan Classic Coverage:

At the Jordan Classic: Friday Scrimmage

At the Jordan Classic: Thursday PM Practice

At the Jordan Classic: Thursday AM Practice

Away Team (Black and Red)

Kevin Durant, 6’10, PF, Texas

16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, 2 turnovers, 5-14 FG, 4-4 FT, 2-5 3P

Kevin Durant followed up his strong performances at the McDonald’s Game and the Hoop Summit with yet another impressive performance here, filling up the stat sheet and showing just how many areas he can contribute in on the floor. Durant scored his points in a variety of ways; shooting threes, driving to the basket, or attacking the offensive boards. Durant has yet to show any prowess with his back-to-the-basket, but he’s an immensely talented offensive player everywhere else. Most of Durant’s three-point attempts were pulling up, hitting two out of five and still looking good even when he missed. Durant also showed off some of the skills he developed playing as a point guard earlier in high school, before a rapid growth spurt. He takes larger players off the dribble from the perimeter very easily, using an array of moves including crossovers, spins, and a quick first step, looking like a guard doing so. He seems to favor pulling up for a mid-range shot once he gets his man off the dribble, but isn’t averse to taking it to the basket, getting to the foul line a couple of times in this fashion. He also went glass on one of his pull-up attempts from mid-range.

Durant’s time playing point guard in high school was evident elsewhere, too. He is a great passer for a big man, and possesses good court vision when he’s moving with the ball, dumping off four assists in transition and off of drive-and-dishes. He didn’t show it in this game, but Durant also feeds the post well from the perimeter, and can adeptly hit cutters from behind the three-point-line.

Durant may not have mixed it up with his back-to-the-basket game, but over the course of the past three days at the game and practices, he’s shown he has no problem attacking the offensive glass, using his good rebounding instincts and touch around the basket to get a good amount of putbacks. He’s persistent around the glass, and with his ability to quickly get off the ground, he can get up and down for second-chance tip-ins when it doesn’t go down the first time.

Durant has already shown he can be consistently effective against the best players in his class, using his versatility to contribute in other ways when his shot isn’t falling. But it’s unseen how his game will translate to college, and eventually the NBA, if he doesn’t add some more bulk to his currently wiry frame. He would be best served to increase his strength heading into next year, while developing some reliable back-to-the-basket moves as well.

Brandan Wright, 6’9, PF, UNC

11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 5-6 FG, 1-3 FT

Brandan Wright didn’t have a great performance, but it was still an improvement on his two point, three rebound performance at the Hoop Summit, and he showed some nice aggressiveness around the rim. Wright scored four of his points on open dunks in transition, one of which was on the receiving end of an alley-oop. He also had a very nice sequence in transition where he took the ball to the basket, took a lot of body contract, and still maintained his composure despite his weak frame to lay the ball in for an and-1. He mixed it up in the halfcourt, too, where he worked for his points well. He showed a nice hook shot in the lane, which missed, but he pulled down his own offensive rebound, before getting it poked away by a defender for a turnover. Wright also showed off some face-up game, taking his man off the dribble twice, once for a routine lay-in and another time using a spin move that led to a missed jam. Wright also was attacking the offensive boards a bit, pulling down three offensive rebounds, and getting a putback dunk on one of them.

Wright has a lot of things to work on, most notably his strength, which is definitely his biggest weakness right now. He also would do himself well to spend some more time working on his post game and his shot, both of which have room for improvement.

Tywon Lawson, 5’11, PG, UNC

9 points, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 1 steal, 2-7 FG, 4-4 FT, 1-5 3P, 13 minutes

Nursing a slightly injured ankle suffered in the previous day’s practice, Lawson played only 13 minutes and definitely looked like he was missing some of his quickness. Even with the ankle injury, Lawson still was able to take his man off the dribble on multiple occasions, taking it strong to the hole and getting fouled or taking contact and still keeping his balance to lay it in. Lawson showed off some good passing in transition, but wasn’t able to execute many drive-and-dishes in the halfcourt given his ankle and limited minutes. His jump shot also wasn’t falling, hitting only one of five three-pointers in the contest. This game is not the best gauge of Lawson’s game, given the circumstances.

DaJuan Summers, 6’9, SF/PF, Georgetown

9 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 turnover, 3-8 FG, 2-6 FT, 1-4 3P

Dajuan Summers had a pretty solid performance, continuing to show the same skillset he’s shown the past two days in practice. Summers got his points by spotting up from mid and long-range, and by using his combination of strength and quickness to get to the basket and score or draw a foul. Summers had trouble at the line today, missing four of six free throws, so that’s probably something he should work on. He did get to the rim very well, though, using his face-up game from the perimeter to take opposing forwards off the dribble. In driving to the hole, Summers on separate occasions used both and up-and-under move and a spin drive, which he laid in off the glass after taking some body contact in the lane. Summers wasn’t hitting most of his jumpers today, but did have an impressive fadeaway from three-point range, and has consistently shown pretty good form.

Defensively, Summers was active in the passing lanes, breaking up some passes and stealing a couple of others.

Summers is very well built for a high school senior and looks as if he’d be best served developing his game towards the PF position. But in talking with him, Summers plans to mold his game more towards a SF, noting that one player he looks up to is fellow Maryland native Carmelo Anthony. Time will tell what direction Summers’ game heads in, but his combination of strength and athleticism at a very well built 6’9 would certainly be intriguing for a SF. Summers didn’t show any back-to-the-basket moves during the Classic, but he did say that he is capable of scoring from the post, and that given the matchups here, he thought he was best suited playing a more perimeter-oriented game. At either SF or PF, Summers should be able to instantly contribute for Georgetown next season. In the meantime, he needs to develop more consistency on his shot, and perhaps work on those post moves that we’ve yet to see.

Paul Harris, 6’4, PG/SG/SF, Syracuse

16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 7-15 FG, 1-2 FT, 1-5 3P

Paul Harris had an up-and-down game, looking dominant with his size and athleticism in the open floor, but having trouble being productive in the halfcourt. On the break, Harris had some powerful jams, which no one dared get in the way of, to go along with some lay-ups and assists as well. In the halfcourt, Harris didn’t do as well, often settling for outside jumpers and forcing the issue doing so. His shot needs a lot of work, and in speaking with him he said it’s the thing he’ll work on most this summer. But right now, it’s not game ready, and Harris missed a handful of ill-advised outside shots badly in this game. To his credit, he did hit one contested three-pointer and also had a pull-up in the lane. Harris didn’t have much success driving to the basket either, only getting to the foul line once and missing on his other lay-up attempts. He showed off his athleticism and ball-handling on a few of the drives, but couldn’t convert on any of them, namely one crossover where he drove hard and was blocked at the basket.

Defensively, in a game that had very little on this side of the ball, Harris did pretty well, using his combination of strength and length as he often does to contain his man. He has all the tools and the work ethic to be a very good defender on the perimeter.

As noted above, Harris needs to work on his shot this summer, which he already intends to do. The rest of his game is very sound, and he’s a fierce competitor to go with it. If you add the threat of a reliable outside shot to that package, you’re going to have quite the player on your hands.

Mike Jones, 6’6, SG/SF, Syracuse

16 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, 3 turnovers, 6-8 FG, 3-3 FT, 1-2 3P

After having some troubles in the practice sessions leading up to the main event, Mike Jones put everything together for a solid performance Saturday night. Jones did have three turnovers in the game, though only one of them was really at his own fault, a traveling violation when he was forcing a drive. Otherwise, Jones played well, hitting some jumpers and getting some scores in transition. Jones has a smooth release on his shot, though he only hit one three-pointer in this game. He did have a pull-up mid-range jumper that he created space for with a crossover, though, and another open mid-range jumper off a teammate’s pass. The rest of Jones’ points came in transition, where he had a few jams and an impressive lay-up following a steal, where he took a lot of contact to draw the foul and still laid it in off the glass for the and-1. Jones had another steal that led to a breakaway in the game, but couldn’t finish the lay-up on the particular attempt.

Jones should be able to contribute at the very least as a spot shooter next year at Syracuse. He should spend the summer working on his ball-handling and try to get more under control when penetrating into the lane, something that he had trouble with earlier in the practices.

Home Team (White and Blue)

Thaddeus Young, 6’9, SG/SF, Georgia Tech

28 points, 13 rebounds (10 offensive), 3 turnovers, 12-20 FG, 3-7 FT, 1-3 3P

Thaddeus Young had a very impressive performance, making some mistakes along the way, but also showing off the total package of his game, to go along with his ideal attributes for an NBA swingman. Young has an excellent combination of strength, length, quickness, and athleticism, to go along with a versatile skillset including dribbling, outside shooting, and slashing. Young may not be able to finish a lot of his drives, or hit all of his shots, but he often creates high-percentage shots in the lane and has good form on his shot. With some work, the rest will just come in time, at which time you’ll have a tremendous player on your hands.

In the game, Young attacked the rim relentlessly both with and without the ball, getting to the free-throw line frequently, scoring plenty around the basket, and pulling down 10 offensive rebounds. Young’s most effective move is a crossover on the baseline, which he uses to get his man off balance before driving past him, then either going up strong or using his length and hangtime to put up a reverse off the glass. Young knows how to use the glass on his lay-ups, doing so a fair share of times in this game. He also showed off a nice spin move and showed a good understanding of protecting the ball on his drives, showing the ability to switch hands in mid air and use his body to shield out defenders. Young missed a noticeable amount of lay-ups in the game, but was always relentless in going back up for the tip-in, getting plenty of putbacks in the process, some of which were emphatic dunks. Young finished well in transition, too, getting ahead of the break and catching an alley-oop that he threw down or just going in himself for a thunderous dunk.

Young occasionally tries to force the issue with the ball, sometimes getting himself into trouble when driving, so this is something he should probably work on. He’s only shown his outside shot a handful of times here, so maybe that’s something he needs to develop more confidence in. Young did hit one three-pointer in this game.

Regardless, Young is a tremendous prospect, and if he just continues to work on all areas of his game, he has the potential to develop into a very versatile swingman in the NBA. He definitely has some star factor to his game, and we’ll likely see him in the NBA sooner rather than later. Many suspected he would’ve declared for the draft this year if not for the new age limit rules. In talking with him, he said he’ll likely declare following his freshman season at Georgia Tech if he would go in the top 10. Even with next year’s strong draft class, that’s definitely a possibility.

Jon Scheyer, 6’5, SG, Duke

7 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers, 2-9 FG, 2-3 FT, 1-3 3P

Jon Scheyer showed how he can contribute elsewhere when his shot isn’t falling, filling up the stat sheet using his non-stop effort to chip in wherever he could. As noted, Scheyer’s shot wasn’t falling, though he was showing consistent form and constantly getting open from behind the arc. He even drew a foul attempting one three-point shot. Scheyer showed off his scrappiness on one of his three-point misses, following it up by driving in to grab his own rebound amidst a crowd. Scheyer was attacking the basket with the ball a bit, too, attempting a reverse lay-up on two separate occasions, missing one and hitting another off the glass. Scheyer also made a handful of drive-and-dishes, both by kicking the ball out to the perimeter or dumping the ball off down low. Scheyer’s passing goes beyond drive-and-dishes, though, as he facilitates ball movement on the perimeter and helps put teammates in good position for shots.

Scheyer was all over the place on the defensive end, attacking the passing lanes and often hustling to get his hand on and loose balls or stray passes. He netted three steals in this game using his anticipation and length to cut into the passing lanes.

Edgar Sosa, 6’2, PG, Louisville

13 points, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 5-9 FG, 1-1 FT, 2-5 3P

Edgar Sosa had a decent game, making more good passes then the assist numbers suggest, though forcing the issue with his outside shot a bit. Most of his outside shots came from pulling up early in the possession, and although he hit two of them, one from NBA range, we would’ve liked to see him initiate the offense more instead. Sosa was more effective when he was getting into the lane, either finishing himself or dishing the ball off to a teammate for an open shot. Sosa takes contact especially well once in the lane, possessing good body control and often being able to put up a high percentage after drawing contact. Sosa has a tendency to occasionally get stuck in the lane, though, picking up his dribble and drawing a double team that he needs to get bailed out of by a teammate. This is something he needs to work on. When Sosa wasn’t pulling up for long 3-pointers, he did well running the team’s offense in these game, creating a lot of open shots through drive-and-dishes, feeding the post, or just making a smart pass to a teammate open on the perimeter. He may have been forcing things here because of the nature of the game, but if he plays a bit more under control, he should be able to step in and contribute for Louisville immediately next year.

Spencer Hawes, 6’11, C, Washington

8 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 4-7 FG, 0-2 FT

Spencer Hawes didn’t score many points Saturday night, but that’s because he didn’t get many chances to go to work in the post in this up-tempo, perimeter-oriented game. But when Hawes did get the ball, he was showing off one of his highly effective post moves or making a good pass to a teammate for a high-percentage shot opportunity. On the passing front, Hawes showed his ability to make crisp passes from multiple positions, throwing a pass from the high-post to the low-post for an assist, hitting a baseline cutter while he was anchored in the post, or making a kickout for an open three-point shot. His teammates didn’t convert all of his passes, but he used his ability to command a double team well to create good opportunities for others.

In terms of post moves, Hawes didn’t convert on every chance, but continued to show just how versatile his arsenal down low really is. He missed a hook shot across the lane and missed a close shot off the glass. On another play he backed down his man, spun, and then faked his man to get by him for a lay-in. On another he got to the free-throw line on a spin move going towards the basket. And he also had a couple of easy jams and lay-ins created off guard penetration.

Wayne Ellington, 6’4, SG, Duke

11 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 4-9 FG, 2-2 FT, 1-2 3P

Wayne Ellington showed off some versatile scoring in this game, despite only having 11 at the final count. Ellington displayed his range, pulling up for an NBA three-pointer early in the game and easily making it. He missed one other three in the game, but also hit a very deep two-pointer. He missed some other pull-up shots from inside the arc as well. Ellington also got into the lane today, driving to the basket and finishing in a variety of ways. He banked a shot off the glass on one play, used an up-and-under move to fake his man on another, and got fouled hard before laying it in on yet a third. Ellington didn’t really contribute in any areas other than scoring, and this may be something he should work on heading into college. What is he going to bring to a team when his shot isn’t falling? He could use another skill that he could consistently rely on to contribute. Regardless, he remains an excellent college prospect.

Sherron Collins, 5’11, PG, Kansas

14 points, 6 assists, 6 turnovers, 2 steals, 6-15 FG, 2-2 FT, 0-1 3P

Sherron Collins had a very erratic game, showing some impressive ability to get into the lane, but also some bad decision-making. Collins has a quick first step, finishes well at the basket, and can take contact and still maintain his balance in the lane. He scored most of his baskets by getting past his man and then going straight to the basket for a lay-in off the glass. All of his assists also came from either executing a drive-and-dish once in the lane or by throwing an alley-oop pass. Collins had a lot of problems with forcing the issue in this game, though. He took a few ill-advised shots off-the-dribble, most of which he missed. He also had some problems passing, being a little careless, leading to his six turnovers. Collins’ biggest problems right now lie in his mentality. He needs to play more under control and not take shots out of the flow of the offense.

Regional Game: Standouts

Prior to the main event Saturday night, there was a regional all-star game held, featuring the best high school seniors from the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut areas. Many of these players will be playing with prominent major universities next season, including Boston College, Villanova, West Virginia, and Florida, among others. There were a few notable performances, and some of these players should be able to contribute for their teams next year.

The first was Eugene Harvey, a 6’0 point guard who has yet to decide what school he will attend. He has narrowed his choices down to Rutgers, Maryland, Illinois, Cincinnati, USC, and Florida. Harvey was the most highly touted prospect in the game, and for the most part he played to those expectations. He played the game carelessly, making some nonchalant underhand passes, but showed that he has great talent and a well-developed skillset for the point guard position. He was at his best in the open court, either scoring himself or making the dish to the open man. On one play in transition he got into the lane and dumped the ball behind him for a trailing teammate without even looking. In the halfcourt, Harvey had some problems forcing the issue with the passing, and also committed a few turnovers by taking it to the basket. He gets to the basket extremely well with his quick first step, though, and can finish with either hand, switching hands in mid air on a few occasions in the game. He has a quick first step, knows how to use the glass, and can maintain balance after drawing contact. If he can put all his tools together, develop an outside shot (which he didn’t show), and calm himself down with the ball, he could be a good point guard for any of the schools he is considering.

Doug Wiggins is another 6’0 point guard, and he’s heading to UConn. Wiggins has similar strengths and weaknesses to Eugene Harvey, having problems with playing under control, and having a good first step and ability to finish in the lane. Wiggins did show an outside shot in the game, but didn’t show as good of court vision or point guard abilities as Harvey.

Jonathan Mitchell, a 6’7 forward heading to Florida, also had a good game, showing some good offensive skills inside and out. Mitchell hit a few outside shots, despite not having the best mechanics, not squaring his body to the basket. Mitchell also showed some moves in the post, using spins to attack the basket and fadeaway for jumpers. He also had a few finishes in transition as well as some nice passes in transition, a few of which led to assists.

DaSean Butler, a 6’7 SF headed to West Virginia, had a pretty solid game, doing a lot of little things to go along with scoring a few baskets. Butler plays very unselfishly, making a few nice passes in transition, and getting a few assists as a result. In the halfcourt, he plays within himself, not forcing the issue with his shot or his drive. He didn’t hit any outside shots, but showed decent form, and did do well attacking the basket. He took it to the basket a few times, protecting the ball well by using his body and finishing strong at the basket. He also had two putbacks off of offensive rebounds and was active in breaking up plays on defense and chasing down loose balls.

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