Morning Hoops, San Diego-Style

SAN DIEGO, CALIF. -- During the second day of practices for the McDonald's Boys All-America Game Monday morning, it was obvious that Spencer Hawes' new culinary habits have paid dividends on the court.

The face was familiar but not the shoulders and arms.

 

The guy wearing McDonald's All-American jersey No. 32 Monday morning in the Aztec Recreation Center on the campus of San Diego State was definitely Spencer Hawes.

 

But the slender big man who was among the most dominant forces on the all-star camp and traveling team circuit last July?

 

He was sporting a much heartier appearance while working out with his West teammates Monday in preparation for the All-America Game Wednesday in Cox Arena.

 

While playing at the Nike All-America Camp and with Jim Marsh's Friends of Hoop team last summer, Hawes weighed in at ``maybe 225 pounds,'' his father, Jeff Hawes, said while watching the practice with his wife and Spencer's mom, Lisa.

 

"He is at about 242 or 243 right now."

 

During the drills and scrimmage with the West Monday, it was quite apparent that Spencer Hawes is putting the extra upper-body weight – and the strength that comes with it – to good use.

 

The future University of Washington Husky had no problems clearing rebounds in the traffic created by teammates such as Darrell Arthur and James Keefe, as well as twins Brook and Robin Lopez.

 

And his low-post (although he missed on several jump hooks) and perimeter skills – his outlet and half-court passing were top notch, as usual – that make him the most versatile big man in the class were on display during the two-plus hours on the floor Monday morning.

 

According to his mother, as part of his workout regiment with his personal trainer, Hawes is consuming at least 6,000 calories per day.

 

So what food items is he loading up on?

 

"Well, pretty much anything and everything,'' Lisa Hawes said, laughing. "But he especially wants biscuits and gravy. He can't get enough of it."

 

SPLIT-VISION ANALYSIS

The East and West teams' worked out on the same floor but it was divided by a curtain.

 

Here's one perspective – from yours truly – on the second day of workouts (they began Sunday afternoon), culled while leaning against a wall while alternating peeks at each team, beginning with the  . . .

 

WEST

*With his added strength, Hawes will be capable of playing any post or wing position for Coach Lorenzo Romar next season. If the Huskies had him in their lineup during the Washington, D.C. Regional, they would be preparing for a Final Four game with Florida right now.

 

*Daequan Cook looked strong and fluid and didn't force a thing. And I'm not sure he missed more than one or two mid- to long-range jump shot during the practice.

 

*Darrell Arthur is expected to eventually sign with Texas or Kansas and he will be an impact player immediately for either program, regardless of whether either loses underclassmen to the NBA Draft or by transfer. Like Hawes, he, too, appears stronger. And, contrary to the rap that he can "coast" at times, he seemed to bust it hard at both ends of the floor Monday.

 

*Chase Budinger, not surprisingly, was as good, athletically, as anyone on either roster. He didn't force many shots and the ones he put up were always on line and "right there", even if they didn't fall. He may also have the longest and most explosive first step off the dribble in the group.

 

*Demond Carter was another player who didn't miss many jump shots.

 

*Sherron Collins' only competition for the title of "fastest and quickest" player in the game comes from the East's Tywon Lawson, of course. And that should make for some cool showdowns in Tuesday's East-West scrimmage and the game Wednesday night. He and Kevin Durant connected for a nice lob and dunk from about 50 feet away – Collins, of course, doing the lobbing and Durant the finishing.

 

*D.J. Augustine shot well and didn't force anything. He also converted on a nice mid-range floater after a solid pump fake.

 

*James Keefe rebounded well, as expected, and the future UCLA Bruin also showed more accuracy – and willingness to launch – on mid- to long-range jump shots than people saw last July.

 

*Jon Scheyer doesn't leap over the top of defenders while releasing his jump shot and can't escape a defender without a hard head or ball fake. But when he got some space, he didn't miss many shots.

 

*Kevin Durant is among the more impressive ball-handlers in the 6-10 range to come down the pike in a while. But at some point – namely, next year as a freshman at Texas – he's going to have to get stronger and develop a dependable low-post game beyond just dunking over the top of defenders.

 

*The Lopez Twins were their usual active and aggressive selves, with Robin demonstrating why he's one of the three best shot blockers in the class (with Greg Oden and Brandan Wright) and his brother showing off pretty good facing skills. Robin even swatted one baseline turnaround attempt by Brook.

 

EAST

*Greg Oden. Let's cut to the chase, trot out the much used "he's the best U.S. high school center prospect since Shaquille O'Neal" comment and leave it at that.

 

*Thaddeus Young is the same smooth lefty with a near-pure jump shoot up to the 3-point range that I saw at the adidas events in July. His matchups with comparably perimeter skilled Durant and Hawes should rock Wednesday night.

 

*Lance Thomas (along with Arthur, one of the two unsigned players in the game) appeared much more on-balance when he released his jump shots. And they appeared to go in with more frequency than they did last summer, as well.

 

*Gerald Henderson looked a little more comfortable (and accurate) with his jump shot. His high school teammate, Wayne Ellington, seemed every bit as fluid and deceptively quick as he did last June while playing in San Diego during the USA Basketball Festival.

 

*Tywon Lawson delivered the best assist I saw, connecting with Ellington, in stride, for a layup, after a bounce pass from about 60 feet away.

 

*Instead of winging it, I'll put more focus on Earl Clark, Mike Conley, Javaris Crittenton, Vernon Macklin, Scottie Reynolds and Brandan Wright during Tuesday's practices and scrimmage.



 

Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame last April, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's national basketball expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at frank.burlison@presstelegram.com. Read more of Burlison's pieces at www.frankhoops.com


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