McD: Day 2 Practice Report

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Future Tar Heel shooting guard J.R. Smith put on another dominating performance, but North Carolina signee Marvin Williams Jr. again had his struggles inside during the second day of practice at Oklahoma City University in preparation for the McDonald's All-American Game on Wednesday.

Even in the West team's shooting drills, Williams had a tough time finding his consistency, leaving many of his attempts short and was unable to put together a run of makes beyond two or three shots.

During the first part of his team's intra-squad scrimmage, Williams actually started strong, grabbing a defensive rebound off a three-point miss by Daniel Gibson (Texas).

Then, on a perfectly executed pick-and-roll with Jordan Farmar (UCLA), he caught the ball just inside in the lane and drove to the hoop, where he was fouled by his 6-foot-8, 325-pound kryptonite, Glen "Big Baby" Davis (Louisiana State).

He subsequently missed the foul shot and on the next possession got beat inside by "Glen "Big Baby" Davis for a quick basket.

A few plays later, Williams again attacked the hoop aggressively, but was fouled again, this time by Joe Crawford (Kentucky). Yet again, Williams missed a free throw worth two points.

"I don't know what's up on my free throws," said Williams. "They've been tripping all year. When I get on, I get on, but when I'm off, I'm off."

In the second part of the scrimmage, Williams had a prime opportunity to score after executing a nice backdoor cut on LaMarcus Aldridge (Texas), but the 6-foot-9, 220-pounder missed a gimme layup.

Finally, near the end of the scrimmage, Williams scored his first and only basket, a layup, off an offensive rebound and pass from Robert Swift (USC).

Afterwards, Williams was disheartened with his performance.

"I didn't get to go to the hole as much as yesterday," said Williams. "I haven't been getting a lot of touches."

Detroit Renaissance's Malik Hairston (undecided), who plays on the West team, however, downplayed the sub-par play of Williams.

"He's a versatile player," said Hairston. "Without a doubt, he's still one of the best players in the country."

As he walked to the team bus with the book, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," in hand, even Williams seemed to confirm that his experience at the first two McDonald's All-American Game practices has been sobering.

"The NBA's not really on my mind," said Williams. "It's not out of my mind, but I don't think about it much. That's something I want to do eventually, but I'm thinking about school right now."

As the star of Williams dimmed somewhat this week, the legend of Smith only grew in stature.

The East team didn't scrimmage much and had a relatively light practice, excluding a session of four-on-four, half-court cutthroat.

But in what at times resembled a style of play only found at the toughest of playgrounds, Smith excelled, pumping in tip slams, deflecting passes and of course, knocking down long range three-pointers.

"J.R. is a phenomenal player," said Glen "Big Baby" Davis. "He can shoot it, jump and handle it a little bit. He does everything. I've played against him a lot, but he keeps showing me new things."

In one sequence alone during cutthroat, the 6-foot-6, 220-pounder grabbed a rebound, passed the ball to a teammate, who had the ball stolen, and then Smith stole the ball back himself. He then calmly stepped back and splashed a three-pointer from some 21 feet out.

Later, after a mad scramble for the ball, Smith ended up with the ball and with wind sprints at stake, drained a game winning three-pointer to end the cutthroat drill.

"That's what I'm talking ‘bout," yelled Smith, shortly after the ball ripped through the net. He played with Corey Brewer (Florida), Dwight Howard (NBA) and Rajon Rondo (Kentucky) during the drill.

Within the first minute of the East team's intra-squad scrimmage, Rondo threw an alley-oop to the middle of the lane off an inbounds play for Smith, who went chest-to-chest with 6-foot-10, 225-pound Dwight Howard and just missed what would have been the dunk of the year.

"When he gets in the air, he can do anything he wants," said Howard. "He just soars."

After the miss, Smith nearly added another highlight, this time off an entirely too high alley-oop pass from Rudy Gay (Connecticut) that he was unable to throw down.

Smith recovered nicely on the next possession, by doing what else, stroking a long range three-pointer over Darius Washington Jr. (Memphis).

Smith later added a rim rocking fastbreak dunk off a pass from Rajon Rondo and a few plays later, he made a sensational pass to Josh Smith (Indiana) for an easy fastbreak dunk.

"I kind of surprised myself," said Smith. "But I think I did all right. I was just trying to get the ball down low to the big guys, because it's their show this year."

Without a doubt, Smith is now drawing looks from NBA scouts, but have no fear Tar Heel faithful, he's still headed to Chapel Hill.

"Out of all the guys, he might be the best perimeter shooter, but his shot selection is well…questionable," said one scout.

The third and final practice before Wednesday's McDonald All-American Game is Tuesday morning.


Even more NBA faces poured in to watch today's practice. One scout estimated there were some 40 NBA personnel in attendance…Living up to his legendary gym rat reputation, Larry Bird was the first person in the stands today and one of the last NBA gurus to leave…Boston Celtics executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge was at practice today as was San Antonio Spurs scout Danny Ferry and Chicago Bulls scout B.J. Armstrong…The West team's Robert Swift proved that a nice showing yesterday was no fluke today, single-handily dominating the inside during his team's scrimmage. The 6-foot-11, 245-pounder from Bakersfield (Calif.) High School had several rim-rattling slams and pinned a shot of Glen "Big Baby" Davis on the backboard to the gasp of several NBA types. Because of his ability to finish with a flurry inside and his better than expected post defense, Swift reminds some of former Minnesota standout Joel Przybilla, drafted No. 9 overall in 2000, now playing for the Atlanta Hawks. Swift could be playing his way into a mid to late first-round pick…After a lackluster performance yesterday, the East team's Josh Smith (Indiana) played better today, slicing to the basket with grace and connecting on a few mid-range jumpers. The 6-foot-9, 215-pounder's NBA stock is still down some for the week, but got a fair amount of attention today…Playing in front of a large group of NBA scouts for the first time since he's been here, LaMarcus Aldridge missed a lot of shots from within five feet early and was never a factor in the West team's scrimmage. Despite the 7-foot, 235-pounder's as good as advertised performance yesterday, the consensus of NBA scouts is that he is too inconsistent to declare for the NBA and should instead head to Austin… Speaking of Aldridge, getting dunked on by Detroit Renaissance's Malik Hairston during that same scrimmage didn't help him either. On the play, the 6-foot-6 Hairston caught the ball, then darted past his defender into the lane and unloaded all over Aldridge, an encore performance to his sickening slam over Glen "Big Baby" Davis yesterday…Shaun Livingston (Duke) played much better, reeling off a streak of six straight points at one point during the West's team scrimmage. Afterwards, he admitted the combination of oversized shoes (he wears a size 14, but looked far more comfortable in 13s today) and playing on a team peppered with ball-handlers had taken a toll on him yesterday. Said Livingston: "Sometimes, you might not always get what you want. You might go from being the first option and getting the ball every time to not getting it as much. Yesterday, I just worried about it too much. Today, I just played, ran the court and had a different mindset."

Dunk Contest: J.R. Smith and Joe Crawford missed key slams in the finals, and Candace Parker's semi-blind dunk won the competition with a 79-point score (out of 80) and a total of 223 points for three dunks.

     POWERade Jam Fest Slam Dunk Final Round Results
     Name                    Final Round Points           Finish
     Candace Parker                  223                     1
     Joe Crawford                    148                     2
     J.R. Smith                       77                     3
     Darius Washington, Jr.           73                     4

3-Point Contest: Darius Washington defeated Daniel Gibson in the finals.

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