Also included with the event was the ability to watch practice. While most basketball fans weren’t able to attend the event, I was. It was my first opportunity to watch this iteration of the Buckeyes in action as I was able to observe the team scrimmage for a little over an hour.
For the duration of the practice Wednesday the Buckeyes were clearly divided into two teams, scarlet and grey. The scarlet team consisted of: Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott, Kieta Bates-Diop, Jae’Sean Tate, Anthony Lee and Trevor Thompson. The remaining six players were suited up in grey: Kam Williams, Amir Williams, Trey McDonald, D’Angelo Russell, Marc Loving and Dave Bell.
The two teams went at each other for about 75 minutes with periods where one team would focus on offense for 10 minutes at a time before switching to only defense. They finished with a full court scrimmage.
Here’s what I saw:
- Big Man notes: I found the fact that McDonald and Amir Williams were playing on the same team, and more often than not they shared the floor. The spacing was a tad congested, but it was obvious that McDonald has worked to be more comfortable away from the basket. He shot from the elbow with confidence and once took a pass at the free throw line, used two dribbles to curl to the basket and finished.
Those two sharing the floor provided some defensive mismatches when McDonald was matched up on Bates-Diop, but if the coaching staff can get comfortable with McDonald’s offensive presence extending beyond the paint I could see he and Amir Williams sharing the floor for significant minutes.
- Lee’s D a question: There were major stretches of practice when Trevor Thompson was resting and Lee was the only big man on the court for the Scarlet squad. There were times when Lee was abused down low by the taller Amir Williams. Lee was active and did his best to force Amir Williams to go baseline, but he was giving up two inches and 20 pounds. Good thing for Lee is the Big Ten doesn’t have too many centers that can abuse him and his ability to run the floor will make units when he is the lone big interesting.
- Russull confident:Russell certainly looks the part of a top recruit and his confidence shined through the entire practice. With Scott and Kam Williams wearing scarlet, Russell was the primary ball handler for the grey team and he looked comfortable doing it. He attacked the rim well and on one occasion where he didn’t finish, he collected his own rebound and put it back. Two specific plays from Russell really stood out to me. At one point he cut a passing lane for a steal. Scott raced back and did a nice job to cut off his angle for an easy basket, but Russell stopped quickly and hit a layup from a more difficult angle. The second was on a play that started with three seconds left on the shot clock. After checking the ball Russell immediately drilled an NBA-range three over Scott. Confidence.
- Tate aggressive: While Bates-Diop showed some nice flashes and an ability to shoot, Tate was the freshman that impressed me the most aside from Russell. Though he is only listed at 6-4, he consistently made plays inside, skying for rebounds and finishing at the rim. His athleticism is evident and he appears to be strong for his size. Don’t be surprised if he is the team’s best rebounding guard.