Brandon is definitely in the Draft this year. (When I asked him if he was going to enter the Draft, he not only said yes immediately but he also mentioned the date of the Draft off the top of his head.)
well i am thinking the same thing everybody else is thinking too early but i hope he does what all the pro brandon jennings fans are hopeing and that is come in to the L and be rookie of the year and play to his best that he can and be sucessful in the nba but its a hard road and i think he can make with some time but i still think that a few years overseas would have been a big help for his game and if he would have stood over seas two solid seasons and then enter the draft he might be not only a top ten pick but maybe even a number one overall pick because there not that many playmakeing point guards out there to be drafted so if he would have got his game right overseas he would have been number one overall dont belive me i was thiking mid to late first rounder but he will be a top ten pick no matter what
Almost exactly 12 months ago, alot of the names you’re hearing about entering this year’s draft, played at Madison Square Garden in front of a ton of NBA GMs, and Michael Jordan, in the annual Jordan Brand Classic game (2008).
This was the game that put Brandon Jennings (Jennings broke the assist record in this game), Tyreke Evans, DeMarr DeRozan, Willie Warren, Greg Monroe, and countless others on the map.
I missed this game last year, but I’m definitely DVRing the replay this Saturday, April 18th @ 430am on ESPN U. Draft Express wrote a fantastic piece on the game the very next day, which I included below, so you know what to look for during the game.
ESPN U is replaying the Jordan Brand Classic Games from a few years, back to back this Saturday, so make sure you DVR the right game. This game, the 2008 one, is on @ 430am.
Much more so than the practice or scrimmage, the 2008 Jordan Brand Classic All-American Game was dominated by the selfish play and poor shot-selection of the overzealous blue chip high school recruits desperate to make a name for themselves, playing on national TV at Madison Square Garden. It’s becoming more and more evident that this high school class is incredibly weak compared to last year’s.
The White team got ahead to a huge lead in the first half, but the incredibly selfish play of their lead ball-handlers Tyreke Evans and Willie Warren allowed Brandon Jennings to storm back and eventually win the game by a comfortable margin.
Despite frustrating nearly everyone in attendance by repeatedly over-dribbling, driving stubbornly into traffic, pulling up off the dribble for horrible shots and virtually making a mockery of this game and all his teammates around him, the organizers somehow still decided to reward Tyreke Evans by giving him co-MVP honors.
That’s a pretty good way to sum up the high-school all-star game experience, and also gives you a good idea about what the NBA and NCAA are working against when they decided to come together two weeks ago in San Antonio to try and reform what American basketball has deteriorated into.
At least half the NBA was represented here at Madison Square Garden, mostly in the form of scouts, but also with some scattered executives and also a GM (Bernie Bickerstaff). We counted representatives of 15 teams in our area alone, and very well could have missed a few others dispersed around the buildings. The teams we did see included: Portland, Charlotte, Houston, Memphis, New York, Orlando, Minnesota, Denver, Golden State, Dallas, Seattle, Milwaukee, Indiana, New Orleans, and the LA Clippers.
Blue Team Recap
For the Blue Team, the co-MVP of this game was named Brandon Jennings (10 points, 14 assists, 3 turnovers, 6 rebounds, 5-13 FG, 22 minutes), a much more worthy selection considering the way he played and more importantly, the value he brought to his team. He seemed more concerned at times with checking out the scoreboard to see how many assists he was racking up, but still did a great job feeding everyone around him. He showed his shiftiness in the open floor with his flashy ball-handling skills and excellent hesitation moves, and utilized both hands showcasing his court vision and making outstanding post-entry passes, lobs, and drive and dish plays. At times it seemed like he was dominating the ball a little too much, but considering the way he got everyone around him involved and cheered his teammates on both on the court and from the bench, there is not a whole lot to criticize here.
The most significant development as far as the NBA draft is concerned, merely continuing what we had observed from the entire weekend as a whole, was clearly the “reemergence” of arguably the most talented big man in this high school class—Greg Monroe (13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 6-10 FG, 23 minutes). Although this game’s setting was never going to be all that well suited for a player of his nature, Monroe found ways to show off just how gifted a player he is on numerous occasions. Facing the basket from the perimeter, he was lethal putting the ball on the floor and blowing past players with his terrific first step, almost exclusively with his left hand. He hit a beautiful jump-hook in the lane, and showcased his outstanding basketball IQ repeatedly by making a number of fantastic passes. He again got outhustled a bit in the paint and on the glass, but still had a very impressive showing taking into consideration everything we saw. Although many are frustrated by the lack of intensity he displays and the way he apathetic manner in which he runs up and down the court—and rightfully so–it’s impossible to ignore his incredible talent, and it’s clearly too early to write him off just yet.
On the wing, Demar DeRozan (17 points, 4 rebounds, 7-10 FG, 20 minutes) looked better than he did earlier in the week, similar to what he did at the Nike Hoop Summit last week. He got out in transition and used his athleticism to get easy baskets and punish the White team for their poor shot-selection, and also knocked down a very smooth looking 3-pointer on the catch and shoot. He still looks a bit limited in the half-court—it’s not clear if he’s unable or just unwilling to take on too many responsibilities creating his own shot from the wing, but this wasn’t much of an issue in this setting. It will be very interesting to see how he looks next season under Tim Floyd at USC, particularly on the defensive end. The numerous NBA scouts we spoke with here (before, during and after the game) were all completely enamored by his talent.
UCLA commit Jrue Holiday also played his typical fantastic defense, but wasn’t much of a factor on the other end of the floor (5 points, 3 assists, 6 turnovers, 1-9 FG, 19 minutes). He did a great job staying in front of his man on the perimeter, contesting and even blocking shots and showing terrific timing recovering when getting beat, again putting a lot of effort into doing little things for his team. He did settle for some ill-advised 3-pointers at times, and looked out of control at times with his ball-handling, but also showed terrific body control taking the ball to the rim on a beautiful drive.
Much like he has been all weekend long, B.J. Mullens (12 points, 3 rebounds, 6-7 FG, 17 minutes) was fairly quiet throughout the game, besides on a number basic catches and athletic finishes around the rim. He has a great body, excellent size and terrific hands, and is a superior athlete as he often shows in warm-ups, but just isn’t smart or aggressive enough to know how to fully utilize his tools at this point in the game. His lack of focus was evident on a number of occasions this weekend, and it’s pretty clear that Thad Matta is going to have to put a significant amount of work in to get him up to snuff on the defensive end. He has almost no concept of how to hedge a ball-screen or make effective rotations inside, and seemingly relies exclusively on his size and athleticism to defend his man inside.
White Team Recap
As mentioned in the introduction, the story of the White Team was very much Tyreke Evans, who disappointed everyone in attendance, especially those who were so encouraged by his unselfish, balanced, and highly effective play during the practices and scrimmage earlier in the week. Despite being the game’s MVP while scoring 23 points (8-15 FG, 4 assists, 5 turnovers, 7 rebounds, 25 minutes) Evans frequently over-dribbled and forced his own shots, ignoring his teammates for large stretches and earning groans from many of those in attendance. When you get past the incredibly selfish style of play he took on here, which has been characteristic of him through much of his high school career, there is quite a lot to be pleased about with his game, as he’s definitely one of the most athletic and skilled players in this class, showing the total package that you’d want from a shooting guard, even showing the capability to play the point guard as well. Evans frequently penetrated into the lane going in either direction, showed the ability to change hands while driving and finish with either hand at the basket, showed excellent creativity at the rim, showed nice touch at the basket, and excellent body control in the lane. The more you watch him, the more you can see how his skill-set is perfectly suited for the Memphis system, but you just hope that his play style will catch up to his skill level. Evans had some success with his pull-up jumper, but was inconsistent and had some troubles at times, which is expected with his unorthodox mechanics. And for all the criticism about his selfishness in terms of dominating the ball, he did make some nice drive-and-dish plays in the game.
Al-Farouq Aminu had a mixed performance here (12 points, 13 rebounds, 4-13 FG, 3 turnovers) on one hand doing a great job attacking the offensive glass and getting out in transition for a lot of easy baskets, while also hitting a nice spot-up three-pointer, but his skill-set, specifically in terms of ball-handling and shot-creating, looked very alarming, as he really struggled doing anything off the dribble, making one pause about calling him a small forward just yet. With his 7’4 wingspan on his 6’8 body, along with his very good athleticism, he definitely has some great upside at the 3, but it’s going to take some time. While he’s a bit more developed as a post player, he struggled around the basket a bit as well, not finishing strong on his put-backs, clearly needing some more bulk to his lanky frame. Speaking of which, his balance also doesn’t look very great, which is evident on his drives to the basket, so strengthening his entire body should be a priority.
After two fairly non-descript showings in the practice and scrimmage, Ed Davis seemed to finally step up a bit here (10 points, 4 rebounds, 4-6 FG, 15 minutes), getting involved in a game that’s very tough for some bigs to do. Davis had some putbacks and open dunks, while also having one very nice sequence in the post, faking and drawing a foul on a left-handed hook shot (he’s a lefty). Overall, Davis is fairly raw and doesn’t show the greatest post awareness, often not reading his defender very well, while he also could use some more development physically. He may not see much action initially at UNC, but definitely could contribute down the road if he continues to develop.
After a tremendous shooting performance the day before, Kemba Walker never really got his shot going in the real game (3-11 FG, 1-6 3P), missing frequently from behind the arc, but not forcing the issue. He played off the ball to Tyreke Evans most of the time, as the White Team failed to let their only true point guard run the point consistently, but Walker did make some nice passes, and also played tough defense for most of the game, fighting through screens and really trying to stick with his man.
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