Brandon Jennings, Austin Rivers Dominate NC Pro-Am
They join forces for back-to-back games.
In what may have been the most hyped game of the summer, Brandon Jennings announced on his Twitter Wednesday that he would be taking his talents to North Carolina for an appearance at the Greater NC Pro-Am. Immediately, rumors began swirling. Everything from Young Money playing against Chris Paul, to a trio of Austin Rivers/Jennings/Jay Williams being on the same team, to even LeBron coming down were tossed out there on the Twittersphere. Ultimately, it wound up being the Bucks’ lead guard and Austin Rivers joining forces for back-to-back games in front of a sold out crowd at NC Central.
Unfortunately for Jennings and Rivers, they walked away with a pair of losses but gave the fans everything that summer league basketball was about. Under Armour head man Kris Stone was in the building and former/current NBA players Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and Raymond Felton were all front and center to watch the performance that this scary backcourt put on for the crowd.
Here’s a look at some of the guys who did their thing during Brandon Jennings’ debut at the NC Pro-Am:
Brandon Jennings, 6-2, PG, Milwaukee Bucks
Young Money continued his coast-to-coast summer league tour by stopping at the NC Pro-Am. The crowd was just as excited, if not more, to see the eccentric point guard as they were to see the hometown kid John Wall when he came through a month ago. Jennings made a few great reads on the pick and roll, and it was clear that he saw things that some of his other teammates didn’t…resulting in a few turnovers. The third year playmaker’s J wasn’t falling at it’s normal clip, but he looked much improved in terms of getting into the paint and finishing with the bump. Through he took two Ls, it’s just summer league basketball and nobody is going to care who wins or loses at the end of the day. What mattered the most in the grand scheme of things was Jennings coming out and accepting the challenge, while giving basketball fans the chance to see one of the bright stars of the League up close and personal.
Austin Rivers, 6-4, PG/SG, Duke, Freshman
Paired with Jennings, it led many onlookers to dream about how nasty of a starting backcourt that could be in the League in the future. Through it wasn’t one of Rivers more dominant showings, there were a number of moves that he put on guys that showed why he was ranked No. 1 in SLAM’s Fresh 75. The stardom of Rivers only continued to grow when he created his backcourt tandem with Jennings, leaving many to believe that he will potentially be the most anticipated freshman to hit the college game since Greg Oden did it back in ’06.
Darius Johnson-Odom, 6-3, PG/SG, Marquette, Junior
After playing in both the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron and then the LeBron camp in San Diego, Darius Johnson-Odom has plenty of experience playing against guys in the League. Based on that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he made it a point to guard Brandon Jennings every time down the floor and attacked him when he had the rock offensively. Coach Eric Vaughn let the natural 2 run point all game, and he made some solid reads when running the pick and roll with John Henson. Unfortunately, DJO turned it over on the final possession of the game, but that didn’t change the legit showing of heart and athleticism that he gave everyone in attendance.
John Henson, 6-10, PF, North Carolina, Junior
Henson has continued to cement himself as the best big man that the Pro-Am has to offer in a group that contains three guys who started at least one NBA game last season. The new and improved 230-pound forward dominated the paint with his ability to block shots without committing fouls and getting elbow level at the rim on all of his dunks. The ambidextrous junior has taken more of a liking to playing on the blocks this summer and with his newfound mindset, looks like he could be putting in some serious work in the League right now.
Marcus Fisher, 6-4, SG/SF, Minor Leagues
Certainly not one of the bigger names at the Pro-Am, he was a guy who Rasheed Wallace was ecstatic to hear was able to make the game. Making the trek down from Virginia for every game that he plays in, it’s easy for anyone to see the kind of grind that Fisher has. Fighting his way up through the American minor leagues, the gritty swingman has been a problem to guard every time that he’s stepped on the court at Central. He showed the ability to score from beyond the arc, post smaller guards, and defend all three perimeter positions. Though he’s already 27 years old, expect the future to be bright for Mr. Fisher.
Andre Dawkins, 6-4, SG, Duke, Sophomore
“Dre All Day” had it going on, helping lead Sheraton Imperial to the regular-season title with an undefeated record. Playing for the only team in the Pro-Am that truly runs plays, Dawkins was a monster coming off of flare screens and shot the lights out of the ball from 3. Look for Dawkins to really step up on a stacked Duke squad this season with his ability to slide to the corners and stroke it.
Rasheed Wallace, 6-10, PF, retired
‘Sheed ended the season as easily the most vocal leader of any player in the league, which isn’t something you usually see out of a 6-10 newly retired NBA player. Playing offense in chill mode, he ironically spends the majority of his time on the defensive end controlling the paint as an enforcer. In fact, he’s holding it down in the paint so well that another media guy and myself have dinner riding on whether or not anyone will even come close to dunking on him by the time its all said and done. Wallace capped off Sheraton Imperial’s perfect season with a demonstrative outburst on a helpless ref after a bad call (which was later reversed), drawing a roar of “Sheeeeeed” chants from the nearly 5,000 in the house.