During the McDonald's All-American Game festivities, the practices leading up to the games are the most important part of the week. The game itself is a fun national showcase that is televised and will feature some fun plays, but the practices are when NBA personnel and national talent evaluators get to see the nation's best seniors go head-to-head in spirited practices.
MDAA: Duke Target Scouting Reports
Here's a look at how Duke's two commitments, Frank Jackson and Jayson Tatum, played in those practices while TDD also looks at unsigned Duke target Marques Bolden.
It was a solid week of practice for the 6-foot-3 Jackson as he was one of the few guards in attendance who seemed comfortable at both guard spots. Jackson's burst and effectiveness getting to the rim was on display as he seems very comfortable operating out of high ball screens already, especially in side pick-and-rolls. From there, Jackson's explosiveness caught some scouts who hadn't seen him a bit off guard as he was able to finish some plays near the basket with big men trying to contest.
Jackson also made some plays as a passer, finding some cross-court shooters, or big men for dump-offs if he was attacking the basket. As a defender, Jackson seems like he has a solid understanding of reading ball-screen situations as a defender -- although that can be tough to do in an All-Star setting when your big men don't communicate effectively. Other scouts have noted that Jackson seems to be a good fit for what Coach K has done with similar combo guards and he continues to improve each time out over the last year.
As one of the marquee attractions in the McDonald's All-American Game, the 6-foot-8 Tatum drew a lot of eyeballs from scouts and NBA people in attendance this week. Although his jumper wasn't falling as much as it can (especially during Tuesday's practice), Tatum's ability to create his own shot is as good as anyone in the class thanks to the amount of work the St. Louis native has put into his skill development. With good footwork and a good feel for how to attack certain areas of the floor, Tatum will make a killing just finding his best spots on the floor and putting up consistent looks. In a setting like this, Tatum's ability to get to the free-throw line and finish is also a non-factor since fouls and free throws generally aren't part of the scrimmage dynamic of the practices.
Tatum will still have to improve as a passer and setting up teammates to make plays, but that should hopefully come with the trust of his future teammates over time. While there is still concern about his inconsistent 3-point range, Tatum has always had a throwback development track that focused on working inside-out. The mechanics of his shot still look perfectly fine and with added reps and focus on range, Tatum should improve to be a solid perimeter shooting threat. Defensively, Tatum was active on the wing and solid in man-to-man situations and switches. As more of an offensive-minded player, Tatum can take some defensive possessions off as a help guy, but that should hopefully improve for a player who has had to exert so much energy on one side of the ball during his high school career.
The unsigned senior big man was one of the most impressive centers in attendance this week as the Texas native showed a lot of old-school post ability. With an ability to score on either block using either hand, Bolden is one of the rare high school big men who could command double teams at the college level nearly immediately. Since Bolden has good footwork and a nice feel on hooks with both hands, he's a tough cover once he establishes deep post position.
Since he's got great natural size and strength at 6-foot-10, Bolden is also capable as an area rebounder and he's improving his ability to wall up at the rim -- although he's not a player who gets a ton of blocks. As Bolden starts to face more consistent double teams, he'll need to improve his passing ability and vision, especially in regards to finding shooters who are left open with a collapsing defense. At the high school level, Bolden didn't often have to worry about this sort of thing, but it will become more of a focus now.
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