MONDAY PRACTICE NOTABLES
Cole Aldrich - For the second straight day, the 6-11 center was nailing 15 foot jumpers with a high level of proficiency. While that shot is a nice tool, watching Aldrich get inside and bang around with Kevin Love was much more impressive. Both guys are big and strong and didn’t hold much back as they tussled for rebounds, traded solid picks and looked to finish strong at the rim. Even better, it looked like both guys relished the chance to get in there and trade elbows with another big and tough kid. All in all it was an excellent session for Aldrich.
Blake Griffin - While Aldrich was mixing it up with Love, Griffin spent a lot of time trading blows in the paint with future K-Stater Michael Beasley. Looking to have grown to a legitimate 6-9, Griffin sports a chiseled frame and a finely tuned game. He finishes with athleticism and power around the rim, has the skill to swish home jumpers from 17 feet and is a spirited competitor. It’s going to be a major surprise if he’s not an instant impact guy at OU and it’s possible that he develops into a double double machine sooner than later.
Gani Lawal - The 6-8 forward from Atlanta probably can’t get to Georgia Tech fast enough for Paul Hewitt. Playing with plenty of energy, Lawal looked bouncy around the rim, hit short and medium range jumpers and played with more power than he has in the past. He’s always been skilled and bouncy, but the addition of some strength has really helped out his game.
Jerryd Bayless - If it weren’t for OJ Mayo, one could make an argument that Bayless has been the most impressive looking guard through two practices. He looks much more comfortable at the two than at the one and even though he’s slightly undersized for a wing, he makes up for it with flat out incredible athleticism. He gets off the floor so high on his jumper that bigger defenders aren’t a bother. Then, when crowded, he can blow right by an opponent and finish with towering slams in traffic. The kid is built to score and as exciting as they come in the open court.
MORE NOTES FROM MCDONALD’S
The three point shooting and dunk contests are scheduled to take place this evening on the campus of Bellarmine College. Both events figure to be very entertaining with a good group of shooters and explosive athletes on hand. As long as players compete in the contests you’d expect them to, look for one of Nick Calathes, Taylor King and James Harden to emerge as the premier shooter and in the dunk contest the early favorites look to be Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley and Jerryd Bayless. … Quietly, undecided point guard Jai Lucas put together a couple of solid practice rounds. Flanked by studs at every position, the slim point has focused on finding teammates and he’s done a very nice job of it. When he does look to score, he’s made nice use of his trademark floater that he likes to call the “tree killer”. … For the second straight day OJ Mayo was an assassin hitting on contested jumper after contested jumper. A strong and physical guard he gets just about any shot when he wants it and he also proving to be a little more explosive athletically than given credit for. If he’s looking to hold onto the #1 spot in the class of 2007, he’s doing a very good job of it. … Watching future Duke Blue Devil Nolan Smith’s approach is refreshing. The guard, who stands a shade under 6-3, is a fundamentally sound guy who makes good decisions and plays hard. What’s best about him is that he loves to play defense and though he’s not a steal machine, he moves his feet and really makes his opponent work hard to score. … For the most part, Michael Beasley has been pretty quiet through two days. He finished a nasty alley-oop to himself off the glass in Jai Lucas’ face on Sunday and on Monday he showed flashes of his versatility knocking down some southpaw jumpers off the glass and skying for dunks. … Speaking of using the glass, undecided big man Patrick Patterson is very adept at banking home 8-12 footers from just about any angle. …