Derby Classic Practices: Day 1
VA kids hold it down at Derby.
With a new sponsor, the Derby Classic still has established itself as the third best all-star game that the country has to offer behind the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Classic. The opening event to the Kentucky Derby Festival has as legit a roster as ever. Rocking the three stripes ever since I got in the game back in ’05, the Derby Classic has changed sponsorship and is now rolling with RBK. As an official media partner of the game, SLAMonline was there from the time the players stepped foot in the ‘Ville to provide you with coverage.
The day started off pretty chill for the players. Local media hounded the Indiana and Louisville recruits. Cleveland native Terry Rozier, who is the lone Louisville recruit in the game, was interviewed for nearly a half hour. The kids also took their photos in their dope new RBK gear which consisted of two pairs of shoes, a bag, jerseys, practice gear and plenty more.
Once the action started, the two teams split up with a net in the middle serving as a partition, making it easy for media to catch both teams. Many places have the dark nylon dividers in between courts, making it impossible to see both teams. Much love to The Basketball Academy for making it happen. Both teams installed some rudimentary plays such as the picket fence and some high ball screen actions, but nothing that the kids would have to take their playbooks home to study. We do have to give much love to East coaches Jason Smith of Brewster and Ryan Hurd of Notre Dame Prep, along with Jason Polykoff from Friends Central from getting the kids from both teams to go super hard during practice. Don’t get it twisted, the tempo definitely wasn’t laissez faire.
Amongst all of the heated action, here are a few of the guys who stood out:
Sam Dekker, 6-9, SF, Sheboygan Lutheran (WI)
Getting to Louisville right after the All American Championships in New Orleans, Dekker hasn’t missed a beat. Approaching 6-9 now, he showed off some Hedo Turkoglu type skills running the pick and roll. Shooting the lights out as usual, he continued to shock onlookers with his much improved athleticism. Now easily doing between the legs dunks and establishing himself as one of the more athletic incoming wings in the Big Ten, Bo Ryan is looking like a genius for offering Dekker a scholarship when he was only 6-5.
T.J. Warren, 6-8, SF, Brewster Academy (NH)
One of the most electric scorers in the class, Warren was able to get basically any shot that he wanted in the practice session. A sneaky athlete, Warren caught 7-footer Steven Adams and one other 6-9-ish defenders in transition and banged on them hard. The 6-8 forward has gotten his body right and has game has even followed to another level. Warren utilized his size so well and proved that no matter what position that he plays at NC State, he’s going to be a straight problem to defend with his ability to get buckets in so many different ways.
Tyler Lewis, 5-11, PG, Oak Hill Academy (VA)
From the second that they stepped foot inside of the gym at The Basketball Academy, Lewis established himself as the best passer that the event had to offer. In all-star games, you usually find guys who are out trying to get there’s but there’s always one guy who is trying to break the assist record. That guy is NC State recruit Tyler Lewis. With no shortage of flair in his game, Lewis nearly dropped a J-Will esque elbow pass that would have sent the place bonkers. If that’s a preview of things to come, it’s going to be hella fun watching him in the game on Friday.
Jordan Adams, 6-5, SG/SF, Oak Hill Academy (VA)
One of the prized recruits in UCLA’s rebuilding efforts finished everything at his own pace, albeit in unorthodox ways. He kept defenders honest with his ability to kill you from beyond the arc, but really did the bulk of his damage with his slash game. The future Bruin won’t won’t be blowing you away with any insane highlights, yet will still be one of the front-runners for MVP of the game on Friday night.
Andrew White, 6-5, SG/SF, The Miller School (VA)
One of the relatively unknown players in Kansas’ recruiting class, the super smooth wing let everyone in Louisville know about his game in day one of practices. He killed defenders with his deadly J from beyond the arc and kept them honest with his two dribble pull-up. The old school approach that he brings to the table is something that Jayhawk fans will surely love from the second that he starts his career in Lawrence.