McD: Day 3 Practice Report

OKLAHOMA CITY -- North Carolina signee Marvin Williams Jr. underachieved again, but had the dunk of the day, while superstar in the making J.R. Smith bolstered his stock with another spectacular showing during the third and final practice Tuesday in preparation for the McDonald's All-American Game on Wednesday.

For the third straight day, the West team spent a majority of its practice working on sets, both offensively and defensively, as well as out-of-bounds plays.

The half-court action was full speed during the sets and plays, but Williams had a tough time against Robert Swift (USC). He tried to dunk over the 6-foot-11, 245-pounder, but had the ball promptly thrown right back in his chest.

Williams, however, recovered and tried to go up again on Swift, only to have his shot swatted away a second time.

Later, when the West team held an intra-squad scrimmage for 20 minutes or so, the up-and-down performance of Williams continued. First, he forced Glen "Big Baby" Davis (Louisiana State) into airballing a jumper from 15 feet out. Then, a few plays later, the 6-foot-9, 220-pounder knocked down a 16-foot jumper over Davis.

On the next possession, Williams then dropped a crisp bounce pass to a cutting Shaun Livingston (Duke) for a layup.

The next time down, Williams tried to attack Robert Swift again, but had his shot violently rejected, sending him tumbling to the floor.

A few possessions later, Williams had what looked to be a sure layup, but Swift rotated over nicely and knocked the ball out-of-bounds.

With Davis back in the scrimmage, Williams picked him up defensively, only to get shook on a crossover move by the 6-foot-8, 325-pound mammoth for a layup.

But just when it looked like Davis was about to starting dominating Williams, like he has for most of the week, the future Tar Heel put together two remarkable sequences within about 60 seconds of each other.

First, after a miss by Shaun Livingston, Williams pushed Davis under the rim, snagged a rebound, took a hack from Davis and then kissed in a layup off the glass.

Then, after a putback by DeMarcus Nelson (Duke), a three-pointer by Daniel Gibson (Texas) and another basket by Nelson, Williams made what was easily his best play off the week.

On a controlled fastbreak, Livingston made a pass to Williams in stride near the top of the key, where he was closely being guarded by his nemesis Davis.

He took two hard dribbles to the middle of the lane, rose up body-to-body with the giant and then hammered home a right-handed tomahawk slam over a stunned Davis to a smattering of ‘oohs' and ‘ahhs' from teammates and onlookers alike.

"It happens," said Williams of his dunk. "Everybody gets caught slippin."

Overall, Williams seemed to more upbeat about today's practice than the previous two.

"I think I'm finally starting to come along pretty good," said Williams, who again today was lugging the book, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." "I just had to make some adjustments and stop worrying about the little things."

One of the top stories throughout the McDonald's festivities, Smith was downright nasty again today.

He had a shot blocked by Al Jefferson (Arkansas) and airballed a three-pointer early during the East team's full-court, four-on-three drills, but in a testament to his no fear mentality, answered right back with a long range three-pointer.

He followed that up with another wide-open, but deep three off a pass from Josh Smith (Indiana). He then stole a pass and hit Smith for a three-pointer to end the drill.

Next, the East team split up into three squads for four-on-four cutthroat drills. Smith was paired with Randolph Morris (undecided), Rajon Rondo (Kentucky) and Josh Smith.

Smith's squad started slow, but he got them quickly with an amazing sequence of three plays.

First, he made a wide-open NBA range three-pointer over Rudy Gay (Connecticut) off a pass from Smith. He then connected on another deep three over Corey Brewer (Florida) and capped off the burst with one of his now infamous trampoline-like tip slams in which Smith thundered home a miss by Josh Smith.

That, however, was just the beginning for Smith. On the next possession, he grabbed a defense board, dribbled the ball to three-point line and attacked the hoop on the baseline, just missing a twisting acrobatic scoop over 6-foot-10 Al Jefferson and 6-foot-10 Dwight Howard (NBA).

Later, during the East team's full-court scrimmage, Smith promptly busted a three-pointer over Darius Washington Jr. (Memphis) and on the next possession tipped in a miss by Rudy Gay.

"I'm an up-and-down type of guy," said Smith. "That's how I play, so it's a perfect fit for me at North Carolina."

For the first time this week, Smith looked somewhat lost defensively today. He didn't play up on his man, Corey Brewer, who took advantage and drilled two three-pointers.

"I'm still working on my ‘D,'" said Smith. "I'm defending better, but not to the level I know I can be at."

Smith nearly pulled off what would have been the dunk of the day in the scrimmage off a half-court pass by Sebastian Telfair (NBA), but got caught under the rim some and tried a windmill, reverse dunk on the other side of rim, which he missed just short.

Telfair did hook up with Smith later for an uncontested layup to close the scrimmage.

Afterwards, not even the usually reserved Smith could downplay his performance today. "I played better than the other two days," said Smith. "I did a good job shooting, rebounding and getting to the rim. It all came together."

He also acknowledged (unprovoked) that the NBA, whose scouts on-hand have been thoroughly impressed by his ability this week, is again weighing on his mind.

"People say I can go, because I'm one of the most athletic guys out here," said Smith. "I want to go to college and that's what I'm looking at right now."

Smith indicated he would skip college if promised to be a first-round pick.

"If that opportunity comes to me, I'll go, but right now I'm going to college," said Smith. "I don't know if that (opportunity) is going to come or not, but I hope it does. If it doesn't, it doesn't, because I was still going to college anyway. But if the opportunity comes, it's a big bonus."

One NBA scout was overheard saying, "What's not to like (about him)?" said the scout. "He does it all well. He's got far more upside than I ever imagined."

The McDonald's All-American Game is tomorrow at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.

NOTES:

NBA personnel flooded the gym again today. Pretty much the same crew as yesterday with notables Danny Ainge, Larry Bird, Danny Ferry as well as new faces in Kiki Vandeweghe (general manager of Denver Nuggets) and Bernie Bickerstaff (general manager and head coach of the expansion Charlotte Bobcats)…Bird seemed to be rather focused on Robert Swift. The big man had another spectacular showing today and will definitely be a mid first-round pick according to one NBA scout. But even though he's alleged to be a lock for the NBA, Swift doesn't sound so sure. "People talking about me going to the NBA is strictly opinion, not the NBA's opinion," said Swift. "I'm going to wait a couple of weeks. I might declare (for the NBA draft), but when it comes down to it I honestly don't know. It just all depends where I'd go and I don't know where that'd be right now."…When asked whether Detroit Renaissance's Malik Hairston would go to Kansas or UCLA, Sebastian Telfair (NBA) said the 6-foot-6, 200-pounder should go to Louisville. He then went on to say, "They (Kansas and UCLA) both like to run up and down. They both throw the ball down the sidelines and like to shoot threes, but I think it's UCLA."…On losing to female Candace Parker (Tennessee) in last night's McDonald's slam dunk contest, J.R. Smith had this to say: "She was destined to win. She did some good dunks. I missed mine. She did a good job, especially dunking for a girl is hard period. When she closed her eyes that's what set it off."…Smith also chimed in on the recruitment of Hairston and believes he will end up at Kansas. Said Smith: "He'd fit in more there. UCLA already has Arron Afflalo, so you'd have two freshman battling each other and I don't think he wants that. If he goes to Kansas, he'd have a better chance of playing more."…Joe Crawford (Kentucky) came alive for the first time all week, hitting a few medium range jumpers and knifing to the hoop for several layups…LaMarcus Aldridge (Texas) really struggled for the second straight day, missing several shots from within 5 feet early in practice and later took himself out of the West team's intra-squad scrimmage to head to the locker room. Rumor has it that the 7-foot, 235-pounder is battling back problems and might have some sort of stress fracture. Nonetheless, he will still likely declare for the NBA draft, against the wishes of most NBA scouts…Shaun Livingston continues to waffle first away and now possibly towards declaring for the NBA draft. Said Livingston: "From what I'm hearing, it's lottery. I haven't really heard anything specifically. There's a lot of rumors. I know there are teams out there that definitely like me."


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