Sunday afternoon both the East and West squads assembled in the Aztec Recreation Center on the campus of San Diego State University for their first team practices. After a brief get to know you session and some stretching, each team split off for their 90 minute practice session.
While you can’t ever gather too much from a practice session, both teams spent plenty of time getting up and down the court and scrimmaging so there was enough action to make some observations.
KANSAS INTERESTS AT THE MCDONALD’S GAME
Sherron Collins - The question that many were asking prior to practice was could, or maybe even would, Collins share the ball. The future Jayhawk quickly answered that question as he spent the entire practice setting up teammates for easy hoops and taking defenders off the dribble. Most of the time he was matched up with future Texas Longhorn D.J. Augustin and there was an obvious difference in explosiveness in Collins favor -- taking nothing away from Augustin who was splendid himself dishing the rock -- that he used to his advantage. Jump shots were few and far between but he did bury his few looks from deep. During the downtime, Collins spent a considerable amount of time chatting up Darrell Arthur.
Darrell Arthur - The 6-9 Texan had to be loving his first practice as he was the recipient of plenty of looks from the West PG’s. Considering that three of the guys he’s playing with -- Sherron Collins, Demond Carter and D.J. Augustin -- are ticketed for schools in his top five it isn’t a surprise that he was the focus of passes as the West mixed and matched lineups. When he wasn’t drilling his patented baseline jumper he got on the glass, blocked some shots and impressed with one particularly tough jump hook between the twins Lopez.
OTHER NOTABLES ON DAY ONE
Kevin Durant - Unquestionably the most impressive performer during the first day of practices, KD was putting in work. Whether he was matching up against two guards, wing forwards or big men he treated them all to the same steady diet of feathery jumpers, stop and pops from mid range or jams around the hoop. Strength is absolutely an issue for him but he makes up for it with unmatched length, above average ball handling and terrific passing. If it weren’t for the age limit it would be hard to imagine him slipping out of the top 5 in this year’s NBA draft. Hopefully he continues the play and treats the nation to a showing of his talents.
Chase Budinger - Often matched up opposite of Durant, the native San Diegan put on a show of his own. Standing 6-8 and blessed with deep range, plentiful hops and solid handles he’s able to get his shot whenever he needs. Now that he’s ditched volleyball and will dedicate himself to hoops full time, look out. Arizona fans are in for a treat next year he teams up with Marcus Williams on the wing.
Thaddeus Young - When this smooth lefty is drilling threes like he was today, he’s pretty tough to stop. Add in a nice low post game, feel for involving others and genuine spirited play and you have a kid who is a pretty complete package as a 6-8 wing. His stop in Atlanta probably won’t be very long but he’s got the talent to elevate Georgia Tech next year.
MORE NOTABLES FROM DAY ONE
It’s pretty easy to tell that Wayne Ellington and Gerald Henderson have been playing alongside each other for quite some time. What’s even more impressive than their chemistry on the court is how well they’ve been coached and how hard they work. … The dunk of the day belonged to the West’s Daequan Cook who soared through the lane for a particularly nasty two handed tip jam. Not bad for a guy with weary legs after winning an Ohio state championship on Saturday night. … It’s going to be interesting to watch the East’s Earl Clark this week. The 6-9 wing is every bit of his advertised height and he has silly ball handling skills, it’s just his jump shot that needs work. … Spencer Hawes looked awfully good maneuvering around opposing big men in the post. He’s got touch, skill and some added weight that make him that much tougher. …