Roundtable: Talking about practice

Next week will feature the McDonald's All-American practices and games. As always, we tweak our final rankings for the senior class based partially on what we see at this and other postseason events, and as always some fans will question the wisdom behind the logic.

Given that, why do these postseason events actually carry weight in the rankings process?

That’s the question we posed to the national team this week.

Brian Snow: I think fans get confused as to what is used, and the game itself is not important. In fact, usually the game is virtually unwatchable. It is the practices, the scrimmages, and the individual stuff that the kids take seriously that is somewhat important and can be valuable.

Still this is a small piece to the rankings puzzle, but when the best go against the best, it would be fairly stupid on our part to completely dismiss it.

Josh Gershon: As Snow said, it's the practices and scrimmages which carry the most weight. Seeing how the top prospects in the country perform against their peers, how they respond to coaching and their approach to practices often say a lot about them and in scouting, you use every single piece of information available to you when forming a final evaluation of a prospect.

The majority of an evaluation is usually already made heading into the postseason games, yet there is still valuable information to be gained.

Evan Daniels: Anytime you can get so many quality players in the same building competing against each other, it's worth watching. While the games at these events can often times turn into a selfish affair, the practices and closed scrimmages (which we aren't allowed to report on) are often times competitive and provide us with some perspective.

McDonald’s practices foreshadowed Towns’ sterling freshman season

When the best of the best go head to head, Scout needs to be there evaluating. Certain years we've learned more and new things more than others. Last year, for example, the McDonald's All-American festivities are where Karl Towns began making his push up the ranks. He showed things we hadn't seen from him in high school and we moved him up into the top five. Looking back we should have even gone higher than we did. Every evaluation setting there's something to be learned.

Rob Harrington: For me, the value of the practices and scrimmages is twofold: You get to see the very best compete against the very best, in a highly concentrated setting; and it’s 8-9 months later than the prior summer. A lot can change in that amount of time, particularly for big guys (such as Karl Towns last year, as Evan noted).

At the same time, I think we all have been a touch guilty in the past of placing too much emphasis on those practices. Some players adjust to that setting better than others, so you have to guard against overboard based on those events.


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