By Aggrey Sam
Hopefully you saw it, but if you didn’t know (or catch Ryan’s post), the McDonald’s All-American Game took place Wednesday night. The East beat the West, 107-102 (the game was actually somewhat competitive for once), but I’m here for my “expert analysis,” not a game recap. Here are the players, in my opinion, that stood out:
Ed Davis, 6-8 power forward, UNC: Son of the ex-NBAer Terry showed he’s a solid low-post player with good footwork and rebounding ability, despite his slender frame. Should be able to get some early PT next year, if Psycho T leaves after this season.
Demar DeRozan, 6-6 wing, USC: Arguably the nation’s best athlete, Lil’ Romeo’s boy showed he could indeed fly with the best of them (he also won the previous night’s dunk contest), but failed to demonstrate his much-improved offensive repertoire. Tim Floyd will count on him to immediately put up big numbers in the Pac-10, especially if O.J. (not to mention Taj Gibson and Davon Jefferson) turns pro, as expected.
Tyreke Evans, 6-5 shooting guard, undecided: ‘Reke did the “Too Easy” thing in the second half, getting buckets at will, copping MVP honors in the process and confirming my belief that he’s the best player in the class. Oh yeah, I don’t think his college destination is as much as a secret as some people seem to believe.
JaMychal Green: 6-8 power forward, Alabama: Green, as usual, was a horse on the inside. I’m not saying he’s a star, but he’s an excellent replacement for Richard Hendrix at ‘Bama (if he keeps his name in the draft) and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s doing a fairly decent Paul Millsap impression in about five years.
Jrue Holiday, 6-4 combo guard, UCLA: Holiday, whose game has really grown on me, showed off his skill and versatility, but all-star games aren’t really his thing–he simply plays too hard and doesn’t realize that defense isn’t a requirement, leading to things like point guards viciously banging on his head on the break. Still, he’s the only incoming Bruin recruit I see playing a whole lot next year, unless there’s an early exit or two on the current squad.
Scotty Hopson, 6-6 wing, undecided: Another monster athlete, who happens to be the best player in the nation who hasn’t chosen what school he’ll attend next year (again, I know where Evans is going; known since last year; I’ll tell you if I’m wrong), Hopson excels in these types of environments. He didn’t disappoint Wednesday, using his smooth moves to get to the rack with ease.
Brandon Jennings, 6-1 point guard, Arizona: If he’s not the best player in the country, he’s certainly the most exciting–and charismatic. The ’08 Chibbs (complete with a haircut from Kenny’s high school era) looked like he was going to drop 20 dimes early on, but settled for several highlights instead.
B.J. Mullens, 7-1 center, Ohio State: Birdman with a mullet (think about it) did his “very tall and jumps very high” thing, which no high school player (in this country, at least; word to Serge Ibaka) has had any answer for–when he decides to play. He did on Wednesday, but didn’t get enough tick to put on his usual dunkfest.
Mike Rosario, 6-2 combo guard, Rutgers: Solid as a rock with a stroke that’s liquid, Rosario is almost too gritty for games like this. I won’t say he’ll be a pro, but I guarantee you that the Scarlet Knights will be a much better program four years from now than they are right now.
Kemba Walker, 5-11 point guard, Connecticut: “EZ Pass” lived up to his nicknames and showed off another aspect off his game to the aforementioned Mr. Holiday. The NYC floor general is just what UConn needs (even with A.J. Price’s emergence in the second half of the season; I’d go small with both of them, Dyson at the 3, with Robinson and Adrien down low); hopefully Calhoun isn’t afraid to play him early and often.
Willie Warren, 6-3 shooting guard, Oklahoma: A powerful and athletic scorer with range, Warren willed his way to buckets. If the Texan stays focused, he’s my early favorite for next year’s Big 12 Newcomer of the Year award.
Elliot Williams, 6-4 combo guard, Duke: I said it the other night and I’ll say it again: If Williams isn’t killing for Duke next year, it’s on Coach K, not the kid. The Memphis native can slash with the best of them, defend, pass, keep the D honest, rebound and jump out of the gym.
Switching gears, I also wanted to mention something any true hoops fan should be aware of. My man Donald Hunt from the Philadelphia Tribune is leading a push to get the late, great Wilt Chamberlain his own postage stamp. It’s easy to overlook his accomplishments because of the era he played in, but the way he changed the game in general deserves recognition. Read Don’s piece about him and if you’re motivated enough, do your part and send a letter to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (the address is on the bottom of the link to the story) about it. Don has been advocating for Wilt through TV, radio and through the print media. I’m sure when Mike passes, many of you would do the same. And I’m sorry to say it, but some of you would do it for Kobe, too. But how tight would it be to see a stamp with a little photo of Wilt holding that “100” sign from his most famous game? If you wouldn’t buy that stamp, you’re not a real fan.