MILWAUKEE-Both the East and West squads got their feet wet during the first practice of the McDonald's All-American Game on Sunday. A couple top prospects were noticeable due to their absence, but Scotty Hopson was noticeable due to his presence.
Making a formidable tandem on the wing for the West squad, Demar DeRozan and Hopson played on another level athletically than their teammates. Both players shot the ball well from the outside, and unlike the smaller guards on the West, finished with authority at the rim. Hopson perhaps had the play of the day with a resounding dunk over Greg Monroe.
One of two unsigned prospect along with Tyreke Evans, Hopson will focus on his recruitment once he leaves Milwaukee. He has four official visits left to his disposal, and the former Mississippi State commitment plans to use them.
"When this is over I'm going to take some visits to some colleges and evaluate my situation and then probably make a decision after that," Hopson told Rivals.com. "I have some schools in mind like Tennessee, Texas probably, Kentucky, maybe Louisville, probably Cincinnati."
Although it is rare for a prospect to return to a school he has decommited from, Hopson claims Mississippi State is still in the running.
"Yes, they're still in the picture. They are still an option, a big option. I still might go there. It's just a matter of me evaluating my options and seeing how it goes."
Possible starting fives
Two likely starters Jrue Holiday of the West and Tyreke Evans of the East didn't make it to Milwaukee in time for practice because of flight complications. In their absence, both squads practiced with what appeared to be a first team.
For the West the first five consisted of Brandon Jennings at the one, Malcolm Lee at the two, DeRozan at the three, Monroe at the four and B.J. Mullens at the five.
The first five for the East had Kemba Walker at the one, Sylven Landesberg at the two, Al-Farouq Aminu at the three and Samardo Samuels and Tyler Zeller on the interior.
West squad observations
Transition play was the name of the game during the West scrimmage. There was little pressure on the ball or defensive intensity until finishes at the rim were challenged. As stated above, there were a lot of missed lay ups by the West guards.
Jennings had a handful of fancy passes, and at one points was encouraged by a West coach to break the McDonald's record for assists. Coming off a season where he was the primary scorer for Oak Hill Academy, it will be interesting to see where Jennings' focus is once the ball tips up. In 2006, present Kansas guard Sherron Collins spoke meaningfully about his focus on setting the assist record, but then once the game began, shooting the ball was foremost on his mind.
Michael Dunigan's workmanlike attitude served him well in the practice. While the mode of the West practice was attempting the difficult play, Dunigan kept it simple and finished with strength around the rim. Oregon will benefit greatly from his physical and serious minded approach to the game.
Left handed dominant Luke Babbitt has clearly been working on his right hand. He avoided fighting back to his left and made a lot of plays with his right hand around the basket. This development is critical to his success at Nevada since he is primarily a below the rim type big man.
East squad observations
Certainly the East squad did its share of running, its scrimmage had a higher level of defensive intensity and more of a patient approach in the half court offense.
Among the guards Elliot Williams stood out scoring the ball. He knocked down a couple threes and finished at the rim in transition.
Ed Davis was the top scorer amongst the big men. His lefty jump hook was going down and his agility and length served him well in scramble situations.
Chris Singleton didn't impact the scrimmage with scoring, but he was ever present on both ends of the court making physical and savvy basketball plays.
Aminu didn't shoot the ball well from the outside, but he had some impressive slashing moves to the basket in the open court and had a spectacular block on a Davis dunk attempt.
Both squads practice again Monday from 10 AM to 12 PM EST. Ask questions about the practices and follow the discussion on the National Basketball Recruiting Message Board.