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Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Defensive intensity picks up

By Antonio Williams
Scouts Inc.

Luke Babbitt and Jrue Holiday
Jrue Holiday and Luke Babbitt battle to box each other out at Monday's practice.
MILWAUKEE -- The second day of practice for the McDonald's Game featured a higher level of intensity, as the players for both teams have become more familiar with one another and the coaches have installed their plays and sets for the game.

The West squad had a very inspiring practice, increasing their defensive effort while placing great emphasis on winning the upcoming game. Theses players from both squads impressed with their skills and effort during the second day of preparation.

East

Elliot Williams, 6-4 combo guard
College: Duke
Williams again set the tone for the East squad during their workout. However, instead of igniting his club with offense, Williams chose to do his work on the defensive end, further displaying his competitive nature. Often guarding the dynamic Kemba Walker, Williams played pressure defense, doing a great job of staying in front of the smaller, quicker Walker. Williams came up with a number of steals leading to fast break opportunities for his squad.

Tyler Zeller, 7-0 center
College: North Carolina
Zeller runs the floor better than any big man in the nation on the high school level. He effortlessly gets out on the break and glides past slower big men who have more girth than the slender Zeller. The way in which he runs the court makes him a perfect fit for the up-tempo attack North Carolina employs. He needs to add some muscle and strength to his frame, which will help him to better absorb contact and still have the ability to finish around the basket. He also demonstrated his ability to step away from the basket and hit the perimeter jumper easily from the 15-16 foot range.

Ed Davis, 6-9 power forward
College: North Carolina
Davis has good athleticism and length, which makes him a very effective transition player, finishing on the break with a high rate of success. Davis has to continue to work on his back-to-the-basket moves in the post area. With his length and jumping ability, a nice jump-hook would greatly enhance his game. He also should develop a turn-and-face move in the mid-post (to better utilize his quickness) and a short jumper to his repertoire. Davis remained active around the basket for the duration of the practice on both ends of the court, which he will have to continue to do on the next level.

Tyreke Evans
Tyreke Evans displayed good vision at his first McDonald's Game practice.
Tyreke Evans, 6-6 shooting guard
College: undecided
Evans finally arrived for his first practice with his East squad teammates, after missing the team's initial workout a day earlier. He did not look to score the ball often, but when he did shoot, he displayed a tendency to fall away on his jump shot. He also puts the ball behind his head, which also negatively affects his jumper. His form slows down his release considerably. However, Evans did show some rather impressive passing skills and vision while setting teammates up for shots. He also needs to continue to develop his ball-handling skills.

Mike Rosario, 6-2 guard
College: Rutgers
Rosario spent a good amount of time running the point for his team during practice. While at the controls, he did exhibit some off-the-dribble skills, getting to the paint with relative ease. He will have to continue to improve his ability to finish at the rim, and adding strength will help him absorb the contact that results for forays to the basket. Improving his handle will also aid him, especially when he mans the point. Rosario has an effortless jump shot, wasting very little motion, which gives him a quick release on the shot. He also has a good, deliberate follow-through on his jumper. Rosario became more of a vocal leader in this practice.

West

Brandon Jennings, 6-1 point guard
College: Arizona
Just as he did in the previous practice, point guard supreme Brandon Jennings continued to ignite his squad through his hard work and competitive nature. He sets the example for his team by volunteering as the first player in line for every drill and even relishes completing a drill twice while his teammates may go once. Coaches love this behavior from their point guards, which establishes the floor general as the unquestioned leader on the team. For this practice, Jennings decided to use his impressive lateral quickness on the defensive end, hounding and frustrating opposing guards. He has the tools to impact the game on the defensive end as much as he does on offense thanks to his quick feet and anticipation skills, which he effectively utilizes for stealing passes.

BJ Mullens
B.J. Mullens needs to become more of a presence in the paint on defense.
B.J. Mullens, 7-1 center
College: Ohio State
Mullens demonstrated his impressive overall skill level for a big man, running the court and keeping up with the fleet-of-foot perimeter guys in transition. He also did a good job of rebounding on both ends of the court. Mullens needs to become more aggressive on the offensive end and use his big body to establish deep post position for rebounding and scoring. He could also demand the ball a little more from his point guards. Mullens also needs to shut the lane down more often on defense and make use of his considerable size and athleticism to block or alter shots.

Greg Monroe, 6-10 power forward
College: Georgetown
Monroe exhibited his sweet shooting touch for a big man, easily converting on the 12-14 foot jumper off the glass. He has a nice game from the mid-post to mid-range area and should look to do more with it on the offensive end. Monroe played with more energy around the hoop, crashing for offensive rebounds and showing solid footwork on some post moves. Monroe just has to display this type of effort all the time because he has too many talents to not place his imprint on games.

Luke Babbitt, 6-8 power forward
College: Nevada
Babbitt has a business-like approach to the game, never losing his cool or showing a change in demeanor on the hardwood. However, his easy going appearance does not represent how hard he plays. He attacks the offensive glass and the opposition should locate him for a box-out whenever a shot goes up. Babbitt also has a nice, efficient shooting stroke, which makes this lefty a hard cover for the opposition because he can score it inside or from the perimeter. Babbitt has a great deal of upside and room for growth. He should only get better once he adds more muscle and strength to his already nice frame.

In preparation for the 31st McDonald's All-American High School Basketball Game in Milwaukee, we will provide a scouting report on some of the standout players from each practice.

Antonio Williams is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. He previously worked as an NBA scout for Marty Blake Associates.