Each year the McDonald's All-American game is the most highly anticipated event in high school basketball. In 2006, the high school rank's finest – at least as decided by the voting panel – have invaded sunny San Diego where they will show off their many talents.
Sunday afternoon things got started with a first round of practices. The East and West each split off for 90 minute intra-squad practices and there was plenty to report on from the practices at San Diego State University.
MCDONALD'S DAY ONE
Kevin Durant- In an Aztec Recreation Center filled with future and present stars, the wispy wing easily stood out from the crowd. While he has work to do on the defensive end and he still needs to get stronger, it's been a long time -- and will probably be a while longer -- since we've seen a nearly 6-10 17-year old with such a complete package on the offensive end.
Pull up jumpers after quick crossovers, 23 footers off the catch and jams in traffic, Durant had it all on Sunday. Maybe even more impressive were the precision no look dimes he was dropping off to open teammates for easy baskets.
Lance Thomas- With this young man you can always expect that he's going to play with energy and make an effort on the glass so that wasn't a surprise. What was surprising was the regularity with which the long and bouncy undecided 6-8 forward was dropping home 17 footers from all around the court. If he can develop that jumper as consistent part of his game he brings a whole new dimension to the table.
Chase Budinger- Maybe second to Durant on day one was the hometown hero. Everybody knows about the former dual sport star's athleticism, but it's his deep range and ability to put the ball on the court that makes him so dangerous.
He's equally comfortable draining jumpers from 22 feet or dunking traffic and that's a pretty attractive package at 6-8. Based on his senior season, size and ability to score there would absolutely be talk about him skipping college if the NBA hadn't implemented an age rule.
Thaddeus Young- When this smooth lefty is smoking home jumpers from between 17 and 20 feet like he was on Sunday he's tough to contain. He can put the ball on the floor -- if only to get to the rim -- rebounds and will block an occasional shot. His scoring ability will be welcomed with arms wide open in Atlanta next winter.
Spencer Hawes- There aren't many who have figured out how to score on the Lopez twins with consistency, but the future Husky seems to have the formula down (remember his Vegas performance!). Perhaps most remarkable attribute about the 6-11 big man is his ability to control his body and finish in transition. He made a few unbelievable catches and finishes in full stride that we wouldn't have believed if we didn't see. The footwork and dual handed finishes around the hoop were expected.
Wayne Ellington and Gerald Henderson- It's only fitting that we list these high school teammates together because they looked extremely familiar with each other's game. While Ellington curled precisely off of screens and buried mid range jumpers, Henderson slashed to the hole and scored on towering jams and hanging lefty finishes. Ellington's perimeter game comes easily and he's worked hard to improve his game attacking the basket while Henderson has always scored on drives but has improved his perimeter shooting.
Darrell Arthur- As one of only two unsigned guys in the game, each and every one of "Shady's" moves is being scrutinized. Sometimes he gets blasted for not giving maximum effort when in reality it's more of a situation where his athletic gifts make everything he does look easier than it should.
The only thing quicker than his release on his patented baseline jumper is how quickly he gets off the floor. He delivered a top five of Arizona, Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas but the jury is still out on how seriously he's considering recent entrants Arizona and Oklahoma.
Be sure to stay tuned to Scout.com as we cover all of those taking part in the McDonald's All-American game over the next few days.