I had no idea what I was walking into. “Organized chaos” is a great basketball cliche but it’s appropriate for the crammed gymnasiums in North Augusta, South Carolina.
I saw a tip dunk (almost) game-winner, I saw a point guard dunk on 6’9″ Billy Preston (who nearly broke his finger) that caused the game to temporarily stop, and I saw a lot of coaches awkwardly crossing their legs. And this was only three sessions on night one. Here are a few observations, just remember that any player observations are from an extremely small sample size.
I haven’t done this for very long, but he plays a brand of defense you rarely see at this level. He’s nagging, annoying, always in his opponent’s face.
He does the little things that some people might consider cheap, but I consider it a skill. When he needed to draw a foul, he placed his head near Kevin Knox’s elbow. He checked people near sidelines to retain possession or to prevent a run-out. He has an attitude about him that I appreciate (one I’m sure blue collar fans will too). The hardest hit of the day happened when his almost-block took Kevin Knox to the ground and into the bleachers.
He has some work to do on offense. I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly, but he struggled to finish tonight. If you want an easy UK comparison, call him DeAndre Liggins. I won’t call him that, because I think there’s more there offensively, but you can call him that for now.
Cats on the Cover
Trey Lyles and Devin Booker graced the cover of the EYBL program.
Team Petty Teammates
John Petty and P.J. Washington haven’t lost since they’ve teamed up. After watching their first game tonight, I can see why.
Petty has bounce. He’s listed as a small forward, but he was smaller than I expected. It didn’t keep him from penetrating the paint for a few explosive dunks, taking a couple of big lumps in the process. Once the got the wind knocked out of him and they made him leave the game for a play, even though he tried to stay in. His first step is quick and I can’t think of another way to describe him other than “bouncy.”
I couldn’t get a good read on P.J. Washington after one game. The power forward was solid in his first game, but his ready play doesn’t jump off the page immediately…except for one play. Noticing a bigger defender, he ripped the ball at the top of the key, beyond the 6’11” center and right to the rim for an And 1. A powerful post, I’m anxious to watch his development throughout the weekend.
They also have a Jarnell Stokes look alike. A massive lower body with huge feet to support his frame, I could have sworn he was related to Stokes. I was correct; Isaiah Stokes is Jarnell’s younger brother.
All of the Players UK Watched Today
- Mohamed Bamba & Quade Green
- Hamidou Diallo & Kevin Knox
- Trae Young
- P.J. Washington, John Petty &Marvin Bagley
- DeAndre Ayton
- Tremont Waters & Nick Richards
Those are the only places I could catch Cal. Just when you think you know where he is, he disappears.
Kevin Knox is Great
This class is stocked with terrific talents at small forward, but none of them have Knox’s elite athleticism. He has length and strength, making him great on defense, and he attacks the basket with tenacity. His jump shot is smooth, with an exceptional midrange game and a decent three-point shot. His one weakness — he dribbles more than I’d like in traffic, but that doesn’t mean he can’t handle the ball in the open floor to run the fast break.
The EYBL Care Package
There’s plenty of Nike gear for all of the kids, but these Kobe 11’s are the pieces de resistance.
Point Guard Play
Trae Young was smooth. I didn’t get to catch much, but his maintained smooth control throughout, similar to Quade Green (who I’ll see more of tomorrow). Green remains in control, but nobody is smoother than Young. He has an overt swagginess that helps you immediately understand why he’s Calipari’s preferred point guard.
Tremont Waters performed at a high level. When the game got close, he took control, helping his team to an overtime win with 16 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists.