McDonald's All America Game Practices: Day Two

McDonald's All America Game Practices: Day Two
Mar 27, 2007, 10:03 am
The second day of the McDonald’s All America Game practices came and went. O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless were dominant yet again, while Eric Gordon was still hampered by injury. DraftExpress was on hand to take in all the action, providing detailed player breakdowns as well as in depth interviews with O.J. Mayo and Nick Calathes.

McDonald's All America Game Practices: Day One

East Team

O.J. Mayo, 6’5, 210 lbs, PG/SG, Signed with USC

The three-time Mr. Basketball was terrific yet again Monday, playing the role of true point guard for his East squad in the intersquad scrimmage. His court vision and ability to see over smaller guards allowed him to pick apart some of his smaller East team counterparts, and let big men Patrick Patterson and Kosta Koufos convert on numerous easy dunk attempts. In the shooting drills, Mayo was absolutely automatic, making 10 consecutive three pointers in a row off the backboard, by our count. Despite his remarkable shooting prowess in the practice session, he had a bit of a disappointing showing in the three point contest, not emerging as the victor.

Nick Calathes, 6’5, 185 lbs, PG, Signed with Florida

Calathes had yet another solid day in practice, making the smart plays out there on the floor that have made him a consensus top 15 player in the class. While he is not the most explosive athlete, he was still able to get into the lane well enough to collapse the defense and get assists. His court vision was outstanding and he displayed the ability to throw passes equally well with both his left and right hands. Nick did struggle a bit defensively against O.J. Mayo, but then again, who doesn’t struggle defensively against Mayo.

Austin Freeman, 6’5, 215 lbs, SG, Signed with Georgetown

The next in the line of great Dematha HS products was excellent in the scrimmage session that the East squad conducted during Monday morning’s practice session. He just finds ways to put the ball through the hoop, whether it be through his underrated outside shooting ability or his knack for finishing inside with his outstanding strength. Freeman put on quite the show in the Powerade Jam Fest, considering his thin build, making Kevin Durant’s description of Austin’s “quiet bounce” completely accurate.

Donte Greene, 6’9, 210 lbs, SF/PF, Signed with Syracuse

The Baltimore native put his silky smooth game on display Monday by killing opposing power forwards on the perimeter with both his ability to go off the dribble and deadly shooting ability. It has been evident this week that he is much more comfortable facing the basket and handling the ball, and it is likely that he will play a role similar to Kevin Durant this year at Texas when he arrives at Syracuse, as a perimeter oriented power forward.

Gani Lawal, 6’9, 220 lbs, PF, Signed with Georgia Tech

Lawal will be the next in the line of long, athletic big men that Paul Hewitt has been able to bring into Georgia Tech. His offensive game has improved mightily over the last year, although he is still not a finished product by any means. The athletic big showed how much he is able to change the game in a short period of time on one stretch where he pinned a Nolan Smith breakaway dunk attempt on one end, only to run the floor down to the other and posterize Patrick Patterson with a vicious dunk. While Gani may not contribute a double-double at GT from day one, the potential and work ethic is certainly there for him to do so down the line.

J.J. Hickson, 6’9, 240 lbs, PF, Signed with NC State

The Georgia native had yet another strong performance in practice Monday, showing an emerging perimeter game that was non-existent for so long. He displayed great hands and finished well inside, while still knocking down 15 foot jumpers on a regular basis. It has been a big week thus far for Hickson in separating himself from some of the other power forwards in the class of 2007, and a strong performance in the McDonald’s game itself would seal the deal.

Patrick Patterson, 6’8, 230 lbs, PF, Undecided

Patterson struggled a bit for the second day in a row, seemingly unable to find a rhythm against the athletic and long duo of Gani Lawal and J.J. Hickson. He struggled shooting the ball facing the basket, and wasn’t able to use his bullish force inside like he usually does. It appears that Patrick will be starting the game for the East squad, so he will have plenty of opportunity to prove himself against Michael Beasley and Kevin Love.

West Team

Jerryd Bayless, 6’3, 185 lbs, PG/SG, Signed with Arizona

Bayless came out playing with a fire unmatched by any of his teammates on the West squad. He looked to score each and every time he got the ball, and this could have possibly been to show the coaching squad what they were missing out on by not starting him. The Phoenix native shot the ball consistently from three, got to the rim at will via his explosive first step, and played solid defense against the duo of Rose and Gordon. Look for Bayless to put up big numbers come Wednesday, despite the fact that he will be starting the game on the bench for his west team.

Derrick Rose, 6’3, 195 lbs, PG, Signed with Memphis

Rose was outstanding running his group in the intersquad scrimmage, distributing the ball to everyone and getting the break started in a hurry. He and Kevin Love seemed to be on the same page all throughout the day, allowing their team to start a fast break at every available opportunity. The Memphis recruit struggled a bit defensively however against Jerryd Bayless, having a hard time dealing with a player nearly as athletic as him with the “attack, attack, attack” mentality that Bayless has had throughout the first two days of practice.

Kevin Love, 6’9, 255 lbs, PF/C, Signed with UCLA

Love was able to start at least 10 fast breaks on the day through his abnormal ability to throw a perfect outlet pass. He made things so much easier for Derrick Rose by getting him the ball at half court from a defensive rebound, that the Lake Oswego stud didn’t even have to run into the backcourt half of the time. He showed outstanding shooting ability from the perimeter, leaving open the possibility that he could be used in some “pick and pop” sets in once he hits Westwood. Cole Aldrich did get the best of Kevin on the defensive end today, as Aldrich has been absolutely unconscious from the field shooting the ball and has consistently made contested shots that most 6’11 guys just aren’t supposed to make. It wasn’t so much that Love played bad defense, as he did force Aldrich into some tough shots, but rather the fact that Cole just seemed to make everything he put up out there on the floor.

Michael Beasley, 6’9, 230 lbs, SF/PF, Signed with Kansas State

While Beasley played absolutely zero defense, he was downright fantastic on the offensive end. He made a few incredible plays for a 6’9 player, handling the ball in the open floor and gliding through the air to the rim as if he were a 6’4 guard. The Kansas State recruit exerted more effort today then he did in Sunday’s practice, but still seemed to lose focus at times. However, when Beasley decided he wanted to play, the offensive performance that he put on was honestly scary given his size, skill level, and athleticism.

Kyle Singler, 6’8, 210 lbs, SF, Signed with Duke

Singler has continued with his consistent, but unspectacular play throughout the week. He shot the ball well from outside, especially from the mid range area. The future Dukie struggled a bit against some of the more athletic players out on the floor at times, but was still able to have a fair showing on the day because of his excellent skill set for such a tall wing player.

Eric Gordon, 6’4, 212 lbs, PG/SG, Signed with Indiana

Gordon didn’t stand out in Monday’s practice, and didn’t participate in portions of the full contact scrimmage. Clearly the coaching staff is trying to give him time to rest up on his injury, so that he is able to go at full speed in the actual game itself. The Indiana recruit displayed his remarkable range all throughout the practice and three point contest, shooting (and making) three pointers that would have counted for three in the NBA consistently. Hopefully the time that he has taken off thus far in practice has allowed him to heal up, so that we are able to see him when the game rolls around Wednesday evening.

Blake Griffin, 6’9, 240 lbs, PF, Signed with Oklahoma

Griffin used his absolutely remarkable body to give Michael Beasley and Kevin Love fits during the West scrimmage. He is every inch as tall as Beasley and Love, and did not back down to his more heralded counterparts. Blake’s game is somewhat reminiscent of former Minnesota star Kris Humphries, in that it’s totally dependent upon his strength and athleticism, although he did show surprising ball handling skills today in the open court. Fans will see the Oklahoma recruit’s athleticism on display during the dunk contest, where he shocked many with his powerful leaping ability.

Cole Aldrich, 6’11, 250 lbs, C, Signed with Kansas

Aldrich continued his hot streak from day one, as nearly everything he put up somehow managed to find its way through the net. He hit two three pointers, leaving Kevin Love openly shaking his head in disbelief. The Minnesota prep star ran the floor well and finished well inside, playing with a passion that was non-existent for so many stretches of time on the AAU circuit. It will be interesting to see if Cole is able to keep it up for the remainder of the week and continue to live up to the outstanding potential that he has.

O.J. Mayo Interview

DraftExpress: So it’s over. Your six year high school varsity career is over. What’s it like now that is all over?

Mayo: It’s good man, to put that behind you. What happened is history, and I can’t go back and change it. I just have to get ready for the future. I have to get ready for tomorrow.

DraftExpress: Now you mentioned your history….You had a great year on the court, a not so great year off the court with those few incidents. Can you tell me about what happened with those incidents?

Mayo: Well there weren’t too many incidents, just two. With the first one, the referee fell and I got accused of pushing him. With the other, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time in my neighborhood. There was a drug bust two houses down, by my friend’s house and I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. That is all behind me now and I’ve just got to keep moving on.

DraftExpress: Now tell me what it was like in your last game for Huntington, where you threw the ball off of the glass to yourself for the dunk at the end of the game, only to then throw the ball into the crowd. What was going through your mind at that time?

Mayo: It was all emotions. Like you said, it’s been six years and that was my last game. It was all emotions and we had won the state tournament. I didn’t mean for it to be a big deal, but it happened.

DraftExpress: Can you compare your experiences in high school basketball in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia to each other?

Mayo: It was great. I had great support and great love in all three states. I miss all three. I’ll be heading out to Cali next year, so it’s been a great experience to meet different people, play under different coaches, learn different things, and put them all into one.

DraftExpress: Now has Coach Floyd told you what position you’ll be playing at USC? Will you be playing point or shooting guard?

Mayo: He said in the NBA I’m going to be a one, so I’m going to play the one. It’s always good to be a one with two guard skills, as far as shooting. Shooting is probably the last thing I need to work on. I really need to just work on controlling the tempo of the game, controlling the ball, and making players around me better.

DraftExpress: Who is your pick to win the final four?

Mayo: I had Kansas.

DraftExpress: Well with them being out, who are you going with?

Mayo: I’ve gotta go Ohio State. Greg and Mike, they’re winners. They were winners at the high school level. Now they’re doing it in college, so I think they’ve got the best chance.

DraftExpress: Obviously it’s not an option for you now, but what would you have done had the NBA not instilled their age rule?

Mayo: I still would have went to college. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. The NBA is going to be there as long as you take care of your business, and that’s always what I’ve planned on doing.

DraftExpress: Do you prefer the McDonald’s game as it is now with no scouts here, or do you think it would better with scouts here because it would make everyone step up their competition a bit?

Mayo: I can only speak for the east side, but on the east team, the competition is rising every day. Everyone is competing and playing hard, and that’s what it’s all about. The scouts at times could be an extra distraction. Now this way you have to focus on playing hard and hopefully going well on Wednesday.

DraftExpress: They still have you listed for both the Roundball and Jordan games. Have you made your mind up as to what game you’re going to play in yet?

Mayo: You’ve got to go with what they list. Roundball and Jordan. I might do both.

DraftExpress: Now you’re aware that if you play in both of those games, you’re ineligible for school, right?

Mayo: I was just saying “whatever they have listed”. I’m aware of the rule. I know you only get two all-star games. I’m just going to see what game best fits me, and have my Mom get off work for whatever one best fits her too.

DraftExpress: What do you think about the way the summer camp circuit has changed? Do you like it with only one camp, or do you prefer it how it was when you were on the circuit with all three camps?

Mayo: I like it. I would have preferred if there was only one. That way all of the top players would have came to one camp instead of bs’g over a shoe thing, or whatever company sponsors your AAU team. I think that can be a distraction at times too. I think you should just get all of the best players in the country at one gym, on one floor, and let them go at it.

DraftExpress: Now you mentioned bs’g with shoe companies, can you tell me how much pressure these companies put on you to attend their camps and all-star games?

Mayo: There’s not really that much pressure. I kind of base it on who has the best players. I always felt like ABCD had most of the top players, so that’s where I went to see where I stood. There’s not really a lot of pressure, but it has a lot to do with loyalty and who takes care of your team. For me though, I just go where the best players are.

DraftExpress: Now have you considered the alternative options of bypassing going to college to get to the NBA? Specifically the D-League, playing in Europe, or possibly just training for a year?

Mayo: No, no, no. I have never considered that in any way, shape, or form. Even when there was an opportunity for me to go to the NBA out of high school, I always wanted to go to college. I want to be in college. I didn’t consider Europe, no D-League, none of that.

Nick Calathes Interview

DraftExpress: Do you prefer the current atmosphere of the McDonald’s game this year with NBA scouts not being allowed to attend? Do you think it makes things more laid back, or would you prefer if there were scouts here so it would give you more of an opportunity to showcase yourself?

Calathes: It’s both. You don’t have to be that nervous if the NBA scouts aren’t here. If they’re here though, it gives you an opportunity to get looked at for the next level, so it works both ways.

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

Calathes: I wish you could have went out of high school still. I don’t know if I would have went straight to the NBA out of high school, but it still would have given us high schoolers the opportunity to go to the league.

DraftExpress: Now there have been some pretty strong rumors out there that Billy Donovan is considering leaving Florida and taking the job at Kentucky at the end of the season. If Coach Donovan does go to UK, have you decided what you’re going to do?

Calathes: If he takes the Kentucky job, I’m going to follow him probably…Most likely. He’s the one who I want to play for and he’s the reason that I committed to Florida.

DraftExpress: Is it the same case with your teammate Chandler Parsons?

Calathes: I haven’t talked to Chandler yet about it, but he’d probably do the same thing.

DraftExpress: What are your thoughts on the way that the summer camp circuit has changed, with there now only being the LeBron James All America Camp? How do you think things would have been had there only been one camp when you were still on the circuit?

Calathes: It would have been real different because everyone would have went to that one camp. It would have probably been a lot more competition because a bunch of players in the nation were going either way (Nike, Reebok, or Adidas) to camp, so there would have been much more competition.

DraftExpress: Would you have preferred it that way with only one camp, or did you like it better with the three camps?

Calathes: Well it gives other kids a chance who aren’t top 25 players in the nation, so for the other ones, all three would be better for them. For the All Americans though, I’d say the one would be best.

DraftExpress: With all of the different shoe companies coming at you and asking you to play in their games, how did you personally choose what other game to play in besides the McDonald’s game?

Calathes: Nike has been loyal to me the whole time to me and I was going to show love to them. They have been following me since I was 15, giving me some gear and sponsoring my AAU and high school team. I am loyal, so I’m staying with them.

DraftExpress: Is there any particular player that you pattern your game after?

Calathes: I think I’m kind of a mix between Steve Nash and Mike Miller. Steve Nash has a really high basketball IQ and Mike Miller can really shoot, so I think I’m a mix of those two.

DraftExpress: Have you spoken with Coach Donovan about what position you’ll be playing at Florida? Will you be playing both guard positions, or strictly point guard?

Calathes: I’ll be playing the one, the two, and the three. I’m going to be a combo.

DraftExpress: Are you ready to take on more of a scoring role if Corey Brewer, Al Horford, and Joakim Noah enter the NBA Draft, as many expect they will?

Calathes: I think that I just have to go with the flow and see if they need me to be a scorer, or whatever they need me to do.

DraftExpress: Well what areas of your game are you looking to improve upon the most by the time you reach Florida?

Calathes: Definitely getting stronger. I think if I get stronger, then I’ll be able to play right away when I get there.

DraftExpress: Now it has to be tough on you being a taller point guard, going up against these smaller guys who are a little more quicker and athletic then you are. What do you do to try to make up for the fact that you aren’t quite as quick as a lot of these smaller guys?

Calathes: They’ve got speed on me, but I can see the floor over them. I am able to protect the basketball against them, and like I said, I can see over them. It really works both ways.

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