MDAA: Duke Targets Day One

CHICAGO -- Practices for the 2014 McDonald's All-American Game opened up to the media on Monday as the top high school basketball players in the country did battle in front of talent evaluators and NBA scouts on the West Side of Chicago.

Duke's four commits in the game all had their bright spots and all showed that they can make some improvements as well before making the adjustment to the ACC next season.

Beginning with the hometown guy in Scout.com's No. 1 player, Jahlil Okafor, the 6-foot-11 center had a solid day during the West Team's practice. Okafor scored the ball on the interior, ran the floor well and rebounded well for his position. When he doesn't spin to score, Jahlil made solid passes out of the post to perimeter players as well.

Okafor could still stand to improve his decision-making at times, and he's a bit of a question mark as an interior defender. The Whitney Young product should greatly improve Duke's interior defense by default, but he's an average rim protector at the moment and is above average as a perimeter defender when hedging ball screens and on pick-and-rolls. He could also be more assertive as a post scorer by using his athleticism over smaller players outside of three feet.

That being said, he's still an exceptionally skilled big man that can score using both hands and should improve on those aspects with coaching.

Scout.com's No. 2 point guard Tyus Jones had an up-and-down day for the East. As a passer and floor general, the 6-foo-1 Jones is very gifted for a young point guard and with his ability to mix in floaters and perimeter jumpers he can be deadly.

But it was a struggle on the defensive end for Jones, as he had a tough time staying in front of a lot of the scoring guards on the East team. Jones has to be better as an on-the-ball defender and he's of minimal use as a help defender. Some of it is his lack of understanding, but these are some genuine concerns without a lot of improvement.

He's still a force on offense but he has to improve his defense.

Joining Jones on the East team is 6-foot-6 wing Justice Winslow. Winslow looked solid on the day and made winning plays all over the floor by attacking the rim, defending, rebounding and playing hard. He'll be a plus defender and gives added toughness to the Blue Devils on the wing.

I'll get a better look at him tomorrow when I focus more on the East.

The biggest surprise among the Duke commits was how well Grayson Allen, the 6-foot-4 shooting guard played. Showing a lot of fight and skill, Allen attacked the rim and played a bit above the rim while also knocking down a couple catch-and-shoot threes. He also held his own on the defensive end and played well against some top-flight guards. His middle game will need improvement, but he has a chance to be a solid contributor.

There will be more coverage from tomorrow's McDonald's All-American practice as well as the media day. ?

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