Basketball pick-up report

Now that school is back in session the Wildcat basketball team is back playing pick-up. On Thursday night all but two players were on the floor and what they displayed makes me want the season to start right away.

Granted, it is just pick-up, and pick-up is notoriously inaccurate in judging the true abilities of Wildcat players. I mean we all remember folks claiming that Will Bynum was going to take the starting job away from Jason Gardner many years back. However, it does give you a thumbnail sketch of how players look and a glimpse at what the season may hold in store.

The biggest thing is that this team is loaded with wings. Even without Jesus Verdejo participating, it is hard to believe that any team in America is more talented at the wing. Hassan Adams, Chris Rodgers, Jawann McClellan and Marcus Williams put on a show.

The second thing is that these guys are so dang competitive. They were fighting on the boards, chasing loose balls and arguing over points. Almost every score and foul call was contested. No one wanted to lose.

There is no doubt that Adams is the leader of this team. He really took control of the pick-up and moderated most disputes. He was also busy coaching players. He took a lot of time to give words of encouragement and instruction to Mohamed Tangara.

On the court he showed the skills to realistically contend for All-American honors. His outside shot was dropping. He displayed a pull-up jumper, but also attacked the hoop with some acrobatic moves. His ball handling skills appear improved.

It took McClellan a little while to heat up, but once he did he showed the skills that had Wildcat fans drooling during the Pac-10 and NCAA Tournaments. His shot was on, but he did not settle for jumpers. He was aggressive in attacking the rim and worked hard on defense. He was also very unselfish on the break, repeatedly feeding teammates on the run.

Tangara did not seem slowed at all by his back. He was aggressive and able to run the floor. This is good news for the Wildcats. He really attacks the glass, and was at least capable on offense. He still has a lot of work to do, but he did knock down a sweet baseline jumper.

Rodgers played well. He was very aggressive on offense, maybe a tad too aggressive, but his outside shot was falling and he showed a bit of a midrange game. For the most part he did not over dribble. Most importantly, he and Adams really seemed to jell on the court.

Fox is clearly slimmer and looks to be in very good shape. He did not do a whole lot in the scrimmage, but was a decent presence inside, altering shots and grabbing boards.

Williams will have trouble seeing a lot of time this season. Not because he isn't good, he's really good, no, he'll struggle because the other wings are so good. Williams was really stroking it on Thursday. He may be the team's best outside shooter, but he is behind Adams, McClellan and Rodgers in overall development. Although he may not play 20 minutes a night, he will really push the other wings.

His length really gave opponents trouble. He forced a lot of turnovers, many before the other team could cross mid-court. Time after time players underestimated his long arms and he had a number of interceptions that would make Mike Stoops proud. Offensively he's a little limited. He's good when attacking the rim, but the outside shot is still a work in progress.

Big men do not fare as well as wings in pick-up sessions, but Walters played well. He was very aggressive and was good close to the basket. He did mishandle too many passes for my taste, but many were tough, but not impossible to handle.

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