While the 2013 version of the Jordan Brand Classic came down to the wire, the overall flow of the game lacked a tangible rhythm. For showcase standards, however, it was a very defensive-minded contest with regular resistance at the rim and relatively few easy hoops. Let’s take a closer look at player breakdowns from the victorious West squad:
Jabari Parker—Parker’s all-court game and versatility at 18 years of age is astonishing. For a 6’8 combo forward he can dribble, shoot and pass with his off hand. Attacked totally under control leading the fast break, knowing exactly where he wanted to ago and how to maneuver the defense accordingly. Parker can serve either function on the draw and kick. When he learns to utilize his 225 pound frame, and add strength, he will be an absolute force to be reckoned with. Displayed a combo of power and quickness in the post, backing in, spinning off, and then using his length to extend and finish a lefty layup from essentially underneath the bucket. His movements with ball in hand are smooth as silk. There is no clear-cut weakness in his skill package. Off the court he epitomizes character quality and work ethic. Parker took down Co-MVP with Julius Randle of the East
Nigel Williams-Goss—I’ll admit I wasn’t sold on Williams-Goss initially, leery of his lack of foot speed and ability to create when pressured. He quickly won me over. The adjectives solid, composed and intelligent come to mind. Williams-Goss plays to his strengths, at the pace he wants to operate, always under control. He used his craftiness to get into the lane where his push shot/floater is automatic (6/7 FG). His pacing and ability to shoot should serve him well in operation of the high pick and roll. With that said his consistency from the outside does need improvement. Coming from a winner’s pedigree at Findlay Prep, he plays with a quiet confidence and killer instinct. His conventional three-point play with 30 seconds remaining sealed the win for the West; he used his 6’4 frame to shield a defender and absorb contact.
Joel Embiid—Embiid played a tremendous game defensively on the interior and on the backboards. He averaged only 1.8 blocks per game in high school, but sent away 5 shots in 19 minutes at Barclays. We’re not talking meager attempts either; he had numerous blocks on hard charging drives, including one from the man-child Julius Randle. He has the feel of a prospect that steps up as his level of competition is enhanced. He showed no fear mixing it up. At 7’0 (7’5 wingspan) Embiid has an already impressive frame to build on, undoubtedly with room for substantial gains in muscle mass. If his on-court ambition to fire away from the perimeter is any indication, he wants to learn and develop his raw, albeit highly intriguing, skillset.
Kasey Hill—In addition to playing a well-rounded game from the point, Hill was without debate the flashiest player on either side. He dominated the rock with a pounding dribble, but he was constantly probing the defense and aiming to create, usually making a play before the possession was out. In the open floor he frequently took liberty in showcasing his “ball on a string” handles and “thread the needle” one-handed dimes; with hit or miss efficacy. He released from deep with surprising confidence, knocking down a pair of straight-on three’s, and also cashed in on high tear drop in the lane. Hill was also active on the glass with 5 rebounds at 6’1. The fast paced Gators will hit the accelerator next season with his arrival.
Noah Vonleh—Showing out in an exhibition setting is just not in Vonleh’s personality. He was unable to showcase his advanced off the dribble creativity and sturdy handle playing alongside dribble-heavy guards; he’s in his comfort zone operating from the elbow extended and going to work. Vonleh is also not a master of cheap points or a prototypical high-flyer who makes his hay crashing the offensive glass. Finding a consistent aggressive mentality will be required to optimize his length (7’3 wingspan) and rare skill level at 6’9. He projects as a go-to option in the halfcourt, with both the size and strength to create a clean look for himself or others either in the post or facing up.
James Young—The 6’6 swingman possesses a smooth lefty stroke and was eager to put his range on display. Young knocked down two treys off the catch, but also came up short on a pair of long-range bombs off the dribble. You can tell that he wants to be a playmaker, but needs polish in this regard. His pass/shoot decisions seemed predetermined. Best renowned as a scorer, his unselfishness jumped off the page when he sacrificed a behind the defense dunk to setup Jabari Parker. Furthermore, he was one of few perimeter players at the showcase intent on making post entries. With his athleticism, length and already sturdy frame, Young has all the components of a high-level, explosive scoring two-guard.
Troy Williams – Williams is an extremely active small forward with a developing skillset. He should thrive in transition, particularly turning defense into offense with his length (2 steals). In the half court he was most effective moving away from the ball and slashing to the bucket, allowing his motor and athleticism to take center stage. He opened eyes curling off a down screen, quickly squaring up, and knocking down a contested wing three. The Oak Hill product is limited off the dribble at this stage of the game.
Matt Jones—It wasn’t hard to see why Jones is considered by many to have the purest stroke in the class, scoring 14 points on two treys and six makes from the foul line. Both three’s came off point guard penetration in transition where he found himself wide open with time to set his feet. When afforded these luxuries, his repeatable stroke will usually result in a “splash”. No rush in his shot, supremely confident shooter. Good looking size at 6’5 185 and his strength was evident finishing an and-one on the break. Fully engaged, seemed to take a vocal leadership role down the stretch of a tight contest.
Aaron Gordon—Quite simply, Gordon did not let the game come to him; or perhaps he just let the electric Brooklyn stage get the best of him on this night. Either way, he seemed intent on forcing the dribble/drive and brandishing his ball handling skills. Gordon dunked his way to MVP in Chicago, and he should have stuck to that “above the rim” recipe for success, taking advantage of his power body and leaping ability. He looked foolish for almost the entirety of the first half, rushing with his head down into traffic with no plan. As a result, his court time was severely cut in the second stanza. Gordon’s gait is a bit odd, as he takes loping strides on his tippy toes.
Dakari Johnson— Johnson is solid, but not spectacular. He utilized his 260 pound frame and wide derriere to carve out deep post position and cleared the lane for an offensive board and putback. Johnson also drilled an elbow jumper off an inbounds play, taking his time, but without hesitation on whether or not to let fly. He’s an intellectual passer capable of locating an open teammate. He also displayed decent agility staying in front of a mid-post move from Chris Walker and blocking his shot off the glass. Johnson is tough to move. His overall athleticism and upside take a backseat in this loaded class.
Marcus Lee—Lee played a quiet 13 minutes. His agility and freakish athleticism at 6’10 are readily evident, but they didn’t dramatically impact the game. On one particular play he held off his defender in the post, made a nice catch, and dropped off a soft interior pass for a jam. Otherwise, he struggled with contact and was easily pushed off balance. When he tried to go up with ferocity for a layup he ended up tossing up a brick near the top, right corner of the backboard. Lee banked in a whirling jumper (again pushed back from his spot) in the waning minute.
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