McDonald's Practice Notes

With two national all-star games already in the books, it's time for the big boys to get underway. That means the McDonald's All-American Game, which tips off Wednesday in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Sebastian Telfair wrapped up his high school career with a loss on Saturday night, but he showed no ill effects during Sunday afternoon's practice – the first of three days leading up to the big game on Wednesday night.

The East squad was first to hit the floor for the two-hour practice session; the West followed approximately fifteen minutes later. A curtain separated the two squads, with the East practicing on the main court and the West on an ancillary court at Oklahoma City University's Freede Center. The two squads will practice two more times before Wednesday's nationally-televised game.

The West's intra-squad scrimmage was the most intense action of the day, featuring physical play not generally associated with modern all-star competitions. Perhaps all of the NBA personnel in attendance, including Larry Bird, sparked the passionate play.

During the West's scrimmage, a very interesting battle developed as University Lab (Baton Rouge, La.) High's 6-foot-8, 325-pound agile wide body Glen Davis matched up with 7-foot, 245-pound Robert Swift of Bakersfield (Calif.) High. Each player had his moments, showing that either is able to fare well against his opposite body-type.

The player who displayed the most intensity was the East's Telfair. The 6-foot, 165-pound point guard from Lincoln High (Brooklyn, N.Y.) played every second of the practice with passion and emotion. He contested each play on defense and was a vocal floor general – as usual - for his team. He seemed to turn the intensity up a few notches when he was playing against Oak Hill Academy's Rajon Rondo, who committed to Kentucky after becoming arguably the biggest riser of the high school season.

The East's Dwight Howard, a product of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy (Atlanta, GA), looked every bit of the player who is expected to be chosen as the top pick in this year's NBA Draft. When he chose to do so, he dominated every other big man on the East's roster. He displayed his abilities as a gifted scorer, defender, and passer and his ability to handle the ball in the open floor also sets him apart from other big men.

West point guard Shaun Livingston, the rail-thin 6-foot-7, 175-pound floor leader out of Peoria Central (Ill.), showed flashes of brilliance and his matchup with Telfair on Wednesday night should be interesting to watch – as both players could bypass college and become lottery picks.

Media access to the players is somewhat limited, but 6-foot-11, 270-pound center Randolph Morris out of Landmark Christian (Ga.), a teammate of both Howard and Josh Smith's with the Atlanta Celtics, said that while he is contemplating his decision between Georgia Tech and Kentucky, the possibility of heading straight to the NBA is also on his mind.

``It's a choice [among] Kentucky, Georgia Tech, or the draft," said Morris, who also mentioned that his performance this week will not impact his decision.

Notes: The East squad is coached by Bob Flynn, the coach at Cardinal Gibbons School (Balt, Md.), while Putnam City's (Okla.) A.D. Burtschi will head up the West team. … Detroit Renaissance (Mich.) teammates Malik Hairston and Joe Crawford flew out to Oklahoma City less than 24 hours after finishing their 27-0 campaign with a 61-42 Class B state title victory over DeWitt. It was the school's first-ever state crown. …

The Slam Dunk contest will be held Monday night at 7 p.m. local time while the McDonald's Game, which will be broadcast on ESPN, is at 8 p.m. local time on Wednesday, shortly after the conclusion of the girls' game. … Howard, Morris and Hairston are the only players who have not made a college decision.


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