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March 30, 2009
McD's practice: Monday standouts
MORE: McD's AA: Players emerge on Day 2 | McD's initial observations | McDonald's AA Game Roster
MIAMI - Both the East and West squads spent a healthy portion of Monday's practice playing five-on-five. Over the two days of practice, future Texas shooting guard Avery Bradley has been one of the top performers.
There is such grace and fluidity to Bradley's game. Then all of the sudden, he will stun his opponent with an explosive drive to the rim or tenacious on-the-ball defense. Expected to replace A.J. Abrams in the Texas starting line up next year, Bradley might not have the consistency from deep range than Abrams, but he is a much better athlete, slasher to the basket and defender.
As good as Bradley has been, Florida State bound shooting guard Michael Snaer has been every bit as good. Not quite the athlete that Bradley is, Snaer is still a quality athlete with a bigger build than Bradley. Snaer has a lot of power in his game to go along with a smooth shooting touch and feel for scoring the basketball. Both extremely competitive players, Snaer and Bradley have battled against each other in the practices.
Once again Keith Gallon had a strong day. John Henson fared much better against him on Monday than he did Sunday, using his length and quick hands to counter Tiny's power. But when Renardo Sidney matched up on Gallon, the Oklahoma signee had a hey day scoring in transition as Sidney seemed content to stand on the offensive wing.
A natural talent, Sidney will have to ramp up his motor at USC if he plans to be a one-and-done player next year. He has yet to battle in the post, rebound or run the court in two days of practice. Maybe he is just saving it for the game.
Along with his improved defensive play, Henson shot the ball quite well from the perimeter on Monday.
Gallon isn't the only talented future Sooner in the McDonald's Game. Tommy Mason-Griffin had a stretch in practice when he was on fire, creating space off the dribble at will and draining jumpers. Making his scoring flurry even more impressive was that he was being guarded by arguably the best perimeter defender in the class Avery Bradley.
The other point guard for the West Abdul Gaddy always impresses with the controlled nature of his game. A crafty operator with the basketball, Gaddy has also shot the ball well.
For the second straight day, the West worked with Gaddy, Bradley, Xavier Henry, Henson, Sidney and David Wear on one squad. Mason-Griffin, Snaer, Travis Wear, Gallon and Mason Plumlee comprised the other squad.
Five-star prospects Dante Taylor and Alex Oriakhi aren't as highly ranked as their fellow big men on the East DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Favors, but Taylor and Oriakhi more than held their own against Cousins and Favors during Monday's practice.
Taylor, who is headed to Pittsburgh next year, ran the floor and finished at the rim with authority. Oriakhi, played with his typical high energy and demonstrated some slick passing, setting up Taylor for some scores.
Taylor was also the beneficiary of Maalik Wayns passing in transition. The future Villanova point guard had several high level assist passes on the move.
The East once again worked with Wayns, Kenny Boynton, Ryan Kelly, Taylor, Oriakhi and Milton Jennings as a group of six on one squad. The other squad included Peyton Siva, Dexter Strickland, Dominic Cheek, Cousins and Favors.
The head trainer for the McDonald's Game informed Rivals.com that Wally Judge suffered a bruised spinal cord and will not be able to participate in the dunk contest or the game on Wednesday.
Lance Stephenson might be "Born Ready" but he wasn't ready for his flight to Miami on Sunday. Stephenson is expected to participate in the three-point shooting contest on Monday, but he has missed the first two practices of the event. His press conference is scheduled to begin at 11:45 AM Eastern on Tuesday. He will announce his commitment to either Kansas, Maryland or St. John's.
In 2009 recruiting news, Alabama's new coach Anthony Grant visited Eric Bledsoe on Monday. Cincinnati will be in Birmingham on Tuesday to meet with Bledsoe.
Duke has strengthened its position with No. 1 ranked prospect John Wall after a productive meeting with the prospect on Sunday. Duke might also benefit from what seems to be the imminent departure of Coach Calipari from Memphis to Kentucky.