Session Two is in the books. I don’t know if it was the college coaches in attendance or just a good night of sleep, but the action was a lot more intense in both the drills and scrimmages.
Today marked the one day that college coaches could attend the USA tryouts and almost every head coach from a big time program was in attendance. The ACC was well represented with Roy Williams, Jim Boeheim, Coach K (in his USA polo), Gottfried, Jamie Dixon, and assistants from Wake and Notre Dame. As far as other schools go you had Izzo, Ollie, JT3, Calipari, Alford, Miller, Bo Ryan, Bill Self, Matt Painter, Tom Crean, John Beilein, Mark Fox, and many others. The only two schools with three head coaches were Duke and Michigan.
The drills were more active today with the score being kept for the majority of them. Loser runs sprints. Shooting drills kicked the day off which turned into 4 on 4 play in the half-court set. In one set, passing was the focus. Once a player scored he had to point toward the man who passed the ball or else the basket wouldn’t count. In the second set, every possession had to have at least one pick and roll.
Harry Giles, 6’9”, PF, Wesleyan Christian (NC), 2016
Yesterday, Jayson Tatum was the main story, but today it was his close friend Harry Giles. While not fully recovered from his ACL injury, Giles played with an aggressive mindset that was missing last night. In a back and forth with Caleb Swanigan, Giles scored 10 points in the first scrimmage. First he threw down a powerful dunk in traffic and then started making moves off the dribble. A baseline drive resulted in a powerful one hand dunk that was mainly a result of the long arms Giles sports. He also isolated Swanigan just above the free throw line extended and after two strong dribbles to the left, Giles elevated up and knocked in a pull-up jump shot. After his first fine performance, Giles subsequently threw several good looking passes and swished a three from the top of the key in his next game.
Giles also missed a few shots pretty badly, but it was exciting to see him get a little bounce in his step back.
V.J. King, 6’6”, SF, Paul VI (VA), 2016
Giles was the story in the first scrimmage, but King was the story in the second scrimmage scoring in double figures. He started off the game with a quick basket and a three from the top of the corner, but then continued with several dunks and a fancy up and under in the middle of the lane. King was certainly feeling it and led his squad to a victory in the second stanza.
Derryck Thornton, 6’2”, PG, Findlay Prep (NV), 2016
Junior point guard Derryck Thornton was impressive throughout the morning session and was fairly dominant during the drill portion. Teaming with Malik Newman in the 4 on 4 drills the duo won the most games. Thornton had his outside shot on point throughout hitting threes from both sides of the court. His jump shot never gets a lot of back spin, but it is usually always online with the basket and today it was falling with regularity. Another thing to note with Thornton is that while he is a right handed player but loves to dribble and pass with his left. He is definitely the best at using his off-hand and his ball handling ability allows him to get to so many places on the court whether it’s breaking the press or penetrating into the paint.
While I touched on Giles, King, and Thornton above there were many players that had strong performances and probably too many to list.
Yesterday, TJ Leaf was forced to the sidelines from almost the first moment of camp. Today he was able to participate and while it took him awhile to get going he certainly made his mark during the scrimmages scoring on several consecutive possessions. He buried a three, converted a basket after a drive from the right wing, and finished a drop off pass two feet from the basket with several defenders surrounding him. He might have been forgotten last night, but he got his name back out there today.
6’8” Caleb Swanigan was a beast once again. While Giles scored 10 points in their scrimmage, Swanigan was the high man on the winning team with eight points. He dominated down low and over powered defenders on the offensive end. Several times he basically backed his man under the goal which resulted in an uncontested lay-up.
Henry Ellenson was back at it again. Getting out on the break and hitting outside jump shots. The Wisconsin big man is playing with confidence and showcased his unique skill-set to the college coaches in attendance and to the people in charge of making cuts for the US team.
2016 point guards Dennis Smith, DeAron Fox, and Devearl Ramsey all had their outside shot working today. Smith connected on several jump shots during the drills and scrimmages and Fox was hitting nothing but the bottom of the net on his attempts. In the last scrimmage, Ramsey caught fire hitting two three’s and a deep jumper in a matter of minutes. 6’0” Peyton Pritchard also had his shot falling during the competitive drill sessions, but tallied off towards the end.