The East and the West squads of the MacDonald's All American Game went at it again during morning practices today. Several players stood out, but none of them stood out more than the East team's 6-foot-11, 270-pound center Andrew Bynum.
The East squad, led by Indianapolis Lawrence North (Ind.) High School head coach Jack Keefer, began practice with the same shooting drills and three on three sessions that began yesterday's practice. But then Keefer had the East shift gears in an up tempo transition drill, where a group of five players was timed making three consecutive trips up and down the court feeding the diving post player for the finish.
Bynum was the star of this drill, as he continually received praise from Keefer for how fast he was getting up and down the court. The animated praise of Keefer drew a boyish smile from the young Bynum.
Although Bynum still had difficulty finishing on defenders, he moved very well to track down rebounds as well as running the floor. Also, none of the big men on the East were even able to get shots over the hulking Bynum.
One particular sequence that stood out was when Bynum made a 15-foot jump shot and then raced the length of the court to block a lay up attempt by Louis Williams going the other direction.
Whether or not anyone out of the plethora of NBA personnel in attendance would use a pick on such a young developing big man, Bynum has NBA written all over his massive body.
Another standout for the East squad in today's practice was multifaceted Josh McRoberts. McRoberts controlled the action from his high post position, defended well and had one spectacular open court player when the lefty snagged a rebound and took the ball coast to coast with his right hand and finished the three on two situation with a powerful right hand dunk.
McRoberts is certainly catching the eyes of the NBA personnel and the rumor is that he has his eyes on the NBA.
Two other players whom the NBA is watching had better practices today for the East.
Gerald Green bounced back from a lackluster performance Sunday and played with a lot more energy and assertiveness this morning. He had more than a couple jaw dropping dunks and found some shooters on other drives to the basket. Defensively, he kept his man in front of him but did give up some three-pointers to the hot shooting Danny Green, who continues to impress.
Louis Williams played much more under control in the five on five portion of practice and shot the ball well in the pre-practice shooting drills. Williams had a very quick release in his catch and shoot jumpers.
Towards the end of practice, however, Williams couldn't help himself and fired up a few contested deep three-pointers, missing badly.
Williams spent most of the five on five sessions playing the shooting guard position next to Greg Paulus, while Eric Devendorf ran the point for the other group of five.
Devendorf did an adequate job at best at the point position. Shooting guard is certainly his most comfortable position.
For Paulus, the gambles that he took defensively yesterday did not pan out as well this morning, as he gave up quite a few transition baskets going for steals.
Richard Hendrix had another solid day rebounding the ball but did not do much scoring other than on putbacks.
The West squad continued its focus on playing an up tempo style. Tyler Hansbrough and Jon Brockman, both mobile, strong and competitive players, dominated the action inside against their fellow big men. Both of them consistently beat whoever was guarding them, whether it was Amir Johnson, Luke Zeller or Martell Webster down the court. Then they seemed to either score at will or draw the foul when the got the ball down low. The two of them also hounded the boards.
Johnson was a complete non-factor against Hansbrough. While Zeller, who is coming off a state championship this past weekend, made some jump shots during the five on five sessions, he had trouble defending Brockman.
From the guard position, Monta Ellis had a tremendous day. He shot the ball extremely well from the three-point line both in the five on five sessions and in the shooting drills. He was solid with the ball, made good decisions and got to the rim in the open court. Ellis is looking more and more like a future NBA point guard.
The bulky Byron Eaton also had a very strong practice. He executed the high ball screen to perfection, either splitting the defenders and getting to the rim or stretching the trap and finding shooters. He did not look for the outside jumper in the five on five sessions, but he did shoot the ball well in the shooting drills. Defensively he was a terror, hounding Mario Chalmers throughout the practice.
To Chalmers' credit, he did not turn the ball over against Eaton's pressure. Chalmer's played a solid floor game in practice but did not impact the play much either. He seems content right now to just get his team in the offense, which very well might be just what Coach Al Rhodes of the West wants.
Julian Wright followed Sunday's impressive performance with another outstanding day of defense, locking up Martell Webster while also posing the only threat to Hansbrough on the interior. Wright, however, had a multitude of turnovers trying to make extremely difficult passes. He has trouble holding back from trying to constantly make the highlight play.
Calvin Miles shot the ball well during practice but tends to get lost in the shuffle at times because of his lack of strength.