'Mid-day Madness': McClellan and Livingston

Midnight Madness may have been canceled, but several hundred Arizona fans at McKale Center on Friday were treated to the Wildcats' version of 'Mid-day Madness'. The Wildcats participated in a highly entertaining pick-up game with a twist. Two top recruits were on hand and both Jawann McClellan and Shaun Livingston gave those in attendance a good show.

Jawann McClellan's visit was a formality. The 6-4 shooting guard from Houston has been committed to Arizona for well over a year and is still pleased with his early commitment. The fans who saw McClellan compete were very pleased with the commitment as well. McClellan, despite having to match-up with Andre Iguodala and Hassan Adams, more than held his own and showed that he will be a very nice addition to the team in 2004.

The first thing that jumps out about McClellan is his build. He has put on a lot of muscle since last year and is noticeably stronger than he was even in July. He looks ready to compete physically and one spectator next to me thought he was an older player.

McClellan is most comfortable on the outside and did most of his scoring from behind the arc. In prior interviews he has noted that he needs to improve his midrange game and in the pick-up he rarely ventured inside. Outside he is a streak shooter, but was on for the most part today.

Most impressive is his form. He gets great lift and extension when he shoots. His shot selection is pretty good, although he has little fear when it comes to taking the shot. He is also able to hit from all over the court, though he prefers the top of the key and both wings to the corners.

He looks to have the quickness to get to the hoop, and certainly possesses the strength, but did not attack much. One very good reason for his lack of a slashing game was the defensive presence of Andre Iguodala. The Wildcat sophomore cut McClellan no slack and for the most part forced him to take the three-pointers.

Defensively he struggled a bit, but most players will struggle with Iguodala and Adams. Iguodala, especially, humbled McClellan just a bit. Iguodala was able to score inside and out, just as he has done since pick-up started in August. To his credit McClellan did not back down and made Iguodala work for his points.

One knock early in the summer on McClellan was his lack of tenacity. He was much more aggressive at the July camps and continued to show that he will play with fire during the pick-up. McClellan was active on offense and tried to hit the boards. With teammates like Isaiah Fox and Kirk Walters, rebounding wasn't a huge need. But he was active around older players, which is a very nice sign.

Livingston, the nation's top point guard recruit, had a mixed day. He showcased amazing versatility and offensive promise, but found himself on the wrong end of a Salim Stoudamire hot streak.

The 6-6 Livingston wowed the crowd with a number of fancy passes. He went behind the back, no-look and behind his head. On several occasions the older Wildcats were unprepared for the highlight reel passing display.

Unlike McClellan, Livingston did not press the issue offensively. He probably took less than 10 shots, but was dead on with his jumper. His jump shot is not as pretty as McClellan's, but he has a soft touch and is good with the midrange.

Livingston did not dominate, but he clearly showed why he is a top-5 prospect. His size and athleticism are outstanding, and he has a great awareness of what is going on on the floor. He has great instincts and anticipation, and his size makes him an intriguing point guard.

One thing the Cats did was match Livingston up with Mustafa Shakur on the same team. The coaching staff has to sell both players on their ability to play together and the older players made sure the two point-guards teamed together. The pairing was successful, especially for Shakur who was able to score quite a bit at the two-guard spot.

The only thing raining on Livingston's parade was Salim Stoudamire. Stoudamire was not going to let the highly regarded recruit come into his court and have his way. The taller Livingston had no answer defending the Wildcat junior. The streaky Stoudamire was nearly unstoppable, hitting from as deep as 25-feet and rarely missing with his runner inside the lane. Livingston was all over Stoudamire but it was no use. Stoudamire was on fire and there was no one there to put him out.

We'll have more from Friday's pick-up later in the evening with a follow-up story on how the veterans played.

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