Here are some thoughts concerning several of the participants in the event after watching the two teams go through a practice session the night before the game.
The athleticism of three players really stood out during the warmup/agility portion of the practice. During the high knees exercise, Texas signee Dion Dowell had his knees up around his face with very little effort. Thriving in the transition game, this small forward with springy athleticism will be all over the court for the Longhorns next year. Not only is he a threat attacking the basket, but he can shoot the three ball as well.
In the back peddling exercise, future Blue Devil DeMarcus Nelson was faster going backwards than a lot of high school players are going forwards. Nelson has explosive athleticism in every direction. He also was very impressive in the shooting drill. Whether shooting off a fade cut or curl cut, Nelson went up with consistent balance on every shot. He naturally fades with high elevation on his jumper, and his release comes from slightly behind the side of his head, similar to Larry Bird's release but with much more elevation. Look for Nelson to be a tremendous scoring threat for Duke.
And then there was Dwight Howard. His chiseled physique alone makes him a man among boys. On the straight legged hand kick exercise, Howard effortlessly brought his feet to eye level. Howard's athleticism and size is truly unmatched on the high school level.
During the shooting portion of the practice, Howard made shots. He will need to work on his release point, however, as he makes the transition to the league. He shoots out in front of his face with a low trajectory on the ball. He will need raise his release and get it closer to the top of his head to score over defenders in the league.
Speaking of shooting, RivalsHoops.com got a good look at the shooting of all the participants, during the well structured shooting portion of the practice. Along with DeMarcus Nelson, Marshall Brown (headed to Missouri) and Bryce Taylor (headed to Oregon) displayed the ability to move without the ball, get their feet set quickly with balance, and knock down shots.
Big man Jackie Butler, who appeared to have grown a little since we last saw him this summer, consistently knocked down 15 and 17 footers off the pass. Granted, they were unguarded shots, but they went in off a smooth release. Butler looked less than interested during the warmup/agility portion of the practice, but he seemed to gain interest once he got the ball in his hands. The big question about Butler is whether the Tennessee signee will ever play another game in Thompson-Boling Arena. Butler clearly wants to make the jump to the NBA as reported by VolQuest.com's Rob Lewis.
Although long and athletic, Florida bound Joakim Noah must both put on weight and polish his skills before he will be able to make an impact in the SEC. He did not shoot the ball well, with an awkward release and a lot of left hand in his shot. He also did not appear to know how to shot fake on the perimeter, or simply chose not to shot fake, during the shot fake and drive drills.
Darius Washington, Jr. is one of those players that can kick it into an extra gear when needed. At practice he looked like an average athlete with less than polished skills, yet when the ball tips off, he transforms into one of the better if not best player on the court. The Memphis signee simply thrives on competition, which has many wondering if could handle playing on the collegiate level if his on court rival Sebastian Telfair is playing in the NBA. Although Washington said all the right things about going to Memphis next year in his interview with National Recruiting Analyst Justin Young, there was a sense of reservation in all his answers.