Pick-up games gives us glance at newest Cats

School is in session, which means for the Wildcat basketball team that the pick-up has begun. With the entire team in the fold, we can get a better idea of just what these players can do.

Granted, it is only pick-up. The play is wide-open and fundamentals are not always stressed, but you can tell what players can do and how much guys have improved.

There were 12 players in hand, including former Wildcat Miles Simon. Absent were Isaiah Fox, Mustafa Shakur, Hassan Adams and Chris Rodgers.

We'll take a look at the players that were on the court this afternoon.

I ran into Wildcat assistant Josh Pastner as he was leaving McKale. He was burning up the cel phone lines, but took a few minutes to chat with me. He told me to keep an eye on Kirk Walters. He said that Walters looked like he was in good shape and that they thought he could be one of the most improved players on the team.

Within minutes of watching the pick-up you can see that Walters has indeed gotten better. He's added a little muscle (still not enough) and looks a lot more comfortable out on the court. He was aggressive on both ends of the floor. He still needs to polish his offensive game but was a lot more decisive and you can really start to see what the coaches saw in him.

The player who really made a great impression was Ivan Radenovic. Ivan is in better shape and is a lot more mobile on the court. He has not completely lost all of the awkwardness he showed last season, but he was moving very well, ran the floor and handled the ball better than last year.

The most impressive thing was his ability to score. He showed a soft touch and made very good decisions with the ball. He didn't force shots and made great cuts that got him open baskets. He seemed to continually get the soft roll throughout the afternoon.

The best thing about Radenovic is that he seems so much more comfortable, both with the speed of the game and with his teammates. Last year he was thrown into a very tough situation and a full year with his teammates should make for a more consistent season.

Salim Stoudamire was his old self, the only big difference was a new afro. His shot was falling and the pull-up jumper is just so tough to stop. He played in control and ran the offense very well. He didn't force things, but did settle for jumpers all day long.

As good as Walters and Radenovic were, Channing Frye was better. There is no substitution for experience. He was particularly effective on fast breaks where he routinely bear the other team down the floor. He doesn't look any bulkier, but does seem like he is stronger.

Simon showed his leadership. He was continually coaching the players, getting on them when the failed to hustle or made bad decisions.

Jesus Verdejo showed flashes of what he'll be able to do in a Wildcat uniform. He has a nice spring to his step and a nice looking shot. He was not hitting today, but the form is nice and he can create off the dribble. His strength made him a presence on the glass as well.

Daniel Dillon showed the same type of play that we saw at the Summer Pro League. He played smart and in control. He did not try and do too much, but was not too timid either. He's quite strong and uses the strength on both the boards and the defensive end.

Mohamed Tangara was very impressive. He just attacks the boards and never gives up a rebound without a fight.

Former Wildcat forward Pete Williams was on hand and loved what he saw in Tangara.

"I've always loved the tag ‘best rebounder in the Olson era', but he could take it away from me," Williams confessed.

Tangara looked better on offense. He had some nice inside moves and knocked down a 15-footer. He's ways away from being a big-time scoring threat, but it was nice to see an improvement since we saw him over the summer.

Jawann McClellan did not set the world on fire, but showcased some of his skills. He didn't do too much offensively, but showed his nice touch. With his length and athleticism he should become a very good defender.

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