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Roundball Classic Reviewed!

Hey DBR: Longtime reader here. I’m in Chicago and went to the Roundball Classic last night. I did a write up for the game two years ago for y'all as well. I typed up my observations in an e-mail for a couple of friends who weren’t able to attend, and I thought you might be interested. Do with them as you like.

ACC Prospects:

Livingston was what I expected. He ended up with 12 points and 7 assists. Unlike almost everyone else in the game, he was completely under control. He could beat whoever guarded him off the dribble, and showed a good ability to hit the midrange jumper over a defender. Showed no range on his jump shot, but I don’t know that he took a shot further than a 17 footer that he stuck. The only reason he didn't have 20 or 30 was that he wanted to get his teammates involved. Was clearly the most impressive of the guards there in terms of his potential. If he comes to Duke next year, we'll be scary. He's that good. Didn't do anything to hurt or help his stock I figure. Had a great game, but didn't answer the questions about his shot, and he's still 165 soaking wet.

Marvin Williams is not a power forward, but he's a ridiculously good wing. I sat across the aisle from some front office types, including former Laker Coach Randy Pfund, and a guy named Pat Riley, and they were obviously very impressed with Williams, taking copious notes after he made plays. Sick, sick jumping ability, and is a great finishers. Dunked through Josh Smith in the first half in the dunk of the night, and over Dwight Howard in the second. Hit two NBA range triples. Only had 13, but was a star tonight, and probably did as much to aide his draft status as anyone there.

JR Smith is a scorer. Hard to know if he can or will play D (as it is for all these guys in an All-Star setting), but he's a scorer. Good range on the jumper, runs well. I wonder about his handle a little, but he's got loads of talent and enough attitude to match it. He's got a little McCants in him, for better and for worse.

Cedric Simmons, an NC State commit, played pretty good D and rebounded well. He’s really long and athletic. His offense has to catch up, but he’s a really solid piece that Herb has coming in, and should help them be better team defending the paint. He’s more like Josh Powell, in the long run, the Marcus Melvin, in that I didn’t see three point range. Still, I think he can help State next year on the defensive side of the ball.

Other prospects:

Dwight Howard is a man-child. He had 16 and 12, but it was unimpressive. He did nothing in the first half. He didn't call for the ball, and he had trouble finishing when he did get it. He's closer, at least in build, to Stoudamire than Kwame, but he handles better than Stoudamire did. That said, his shot's bad, and his release is really, really off. Most of his points were off putbacks or on breakways. Were I a scout, last night would have terrified me. The Kwame comparisons aren't going to die. All that being said, at 6-11 he moves more like a SF. He runs really well, and has a good handle. He just should have dominated that game, and he didn't.

Josh Smith is talented, but he is in no way ready for the league. All he did last night was shoot three pointers (pretty average at that) and dunk. He (and Dwight Howard, for what it's worth -- more on him later) played pretty passively. He ended up with decent numbers, but for a guy playing for draft position and dollars, I would have expected more. He's an explosive leaper, and his release is good, but his body floats and he falls away too much on his shots. The Tracy McGrady comparisons are poor, as that he's not the ball handler, and not as wiry or long, but he's stronger in the upper body. Hard to tell if he's really 6-8. This isn't to say he's not a good basketball player. He is, and his talent, at least physically, is there. He's just a kid who needs to develop in college for a year or two to complete his game before he makes the jump. I wouldn't get my hopes up though. The announcer, in pregame intros, said that Smith is "currently committed to Indiana." He was the only player for whom the word "currently" was used in this manner.

Glen Davis is a bigger Robert Traylor. He's got great hands and feet and he understands how to use his massive girth. He's got to get in shape, and he's not ready for the league, but he really played well. One of the things that really impressed me was his rebounding. It wasn't just positional. He seems to understand where the ball is going and is able to move more quickly laterally to get there than one would expect a 6-9 guy to do. If Brady can get him in shape, I don't know who will guard him in the SEC. Thing is, he was so out of shape, that he couldn't dunk by the third quarter. Still, he had 19 points, 8 boards and 5 blocks.

Randolph Morris is huge. That being said, he's a little lumbering, and if he doesn't get the dropstep dunk, I don't know what else he has. He rebounds well, but he looked very much like a guy used to being bigger and stronger than the players he was playing against. Last night he wasn't, and he couldn't do a whole lot with it. While his numbers were good, he was completely outplayed by another center prospect: Robert Swift.

If Robert Swift goes to college -- and he should -- he'll be one of the better centers in college basketball next year. He's really active at 7-1 260. Rebounds well and gets off the floor quickly. Has a good jump hook with either hand, and understands how to use his body to get position. Very good footwork. Runs the floor really well for a 7-1 260 kid. Has room for 30 more pounds on his frame, easily, as he matures. I expected him to be a stiff, and he wasn't at all. Bibby's got a good one in Swift. He impressed me as much as anyone last night, including Livingston and Williams.

Mike Williams isn't as big as I thought he would be. His build is more Donnell Harvey than it is James Thomas. He's a quick, active leaper though, and he's got a better offensive game than Harvey had at this point though. I think he'll make an impact rebounding and blocking shots immediately, but will take a little while for his offense to catch up. Barnes will love his activity and toughness.

Juan Diego Palacios is raw, but athletic. Looked about 6-9. Bigger, stronger upper body than I expected. Doesn't have a lot of back to the basket offense, but he runs well and is active on the glass. He played well, but not as well as many of other F/C prospects. He's a project, and at least a two year player, but he's a good athlete and has immediate potential defensively.

AJ Price, a PG going to UConn, is a really nice player. Had 15 assists last night. None of them flashy, just good solid passes. He, like Livingston, understands where the ball needs to be to give a guy the best chance of scoring. He's also got a better than average jumper. A little skinny, but he's a good one. He and Rudy Gay will give UConn a real infusion next season.

Marshall Brown reminded me most of Ricky Paulding, who he will be expected to replace. Strong wing with big ups and a good jumper. He did nothing spectacular last night, but did a lot of good things.

Justin Cerasoli will end playing a fair amount of PG for Louis Orr. I was surprised by his handle. He did a great job handling the ball, and passed the ball very well. His shot isn't pretty, but it's not ineffective. I think he's going to help them out a lot. They've got some talent on the wings there, and that's going to suit him well. He'll know how to and be happy getting them the ball.

Calvin Brock's a pretty impressive athlete. He was as good a dunker as anyone there, although he didn't have the dunk of the night. His shot is fine, although his release point is a little low. He wasn't a star of the game or anything, but he clearly wasn't outclassed or anything. Looks like a kid who will be a role player early and progress into something more than that as he matures. DePaul and Illinois are most often mentioned in conjuction with Calvin's recruitment.

Dorrell Wright is really, really talented offensively. Gets out on the break. Can post as a 6-6 guard. Good shot. Didn't show much off the dribble. He needs college too, but will be a big impact guy for DePaul next year. He and Sammy Mejia will make a tall, athletic backcourt and will give a lot of teams problems.

Roy Bright is exactly what a Cincy wing should be. Athletic, really active on the glass, strong and shoot a lot of jumpers. He's the next in a long line of very similar wings at Cincy. He's a really quick jumper and kept a lot of balls alive on the glass. If he buys into D, he'll play for Huggy Bear pretty quickly.

Gabe Pruitt (USC), Josh Wright (Syracuse), and Aaron Afflalo (UCLA) all looked good at points, but were kids who were clearly better in more organized sets. Pruitt is athletic with really nice stroke. Afflalo has good size for a PG, and a very nice jumper.

That leaves Joakin Noah. I'm not sure if it was because of his famous father or because he's going to Florida, but he was in this game and he had little business being there. Offensively, he was guarded by Dwight Howard, and he couldn't do anything in the paint. In transition he missed two dunks, and had to have had at least three shots blocked, including one impressively by Glen Davis. He's not strong enough to play in the paint, but he's got a really questionable jumper and no real face up game. He's also soft, as that he doesn't like contact, and can't seem to finish through it. In short, he's the prototypical Florida pivot player. Soft, with no understanding of his own skills.

A couple of other notes: the throwback jerseys on display in the crowd last night were pretty impressive. Of particular note were the following:
Tim Hardaway UTEP throwback

  • Len Bias Celtics throwback (a little morbid for my tastes)
  • Julius Erving UMass throwback
  • Bob Pettit St. Louis Hawks throwback
  • Walter Payton Jackson State throwback