High School All Star Game Season is finally over. Kentucky fans had a lot to digest after watching the McDonald’s All American Game, the Jordan Brand Classic, the Nike Hoops Summit and the Derby Festival Classic.
Positive feelings are abound in Lexington as the future Kentucky basketball stars impressed everyone, fans, analysts and even each other.
Here are five take aways from the All Star Games.
1. Julius Randle is Better Than I Expected- Randle isn’t the second best player in the country for no reason. I knew he was going to be good but I didn’t know he was going to be THAT good. What impressed me the most about him was his constant motor in all three games in which he appeared. While other players seemed to take a play off here and there, Randle was always on the go. His ball handling and athleticism are extremely impressive for such a large person; and when he gets a head of steam going for the basket, get out of the way. There were times in the Hoops Summit and in the Jordan Brand Classic in which he took the game over completely. He scored 19 in each one of those games and came close to a double-double in each as well. The four spot is his to lose.
2. Andrew Harrison is the Typical Calipari Point Guard- After a year of sub-par play at the one, Andrew Harrison will return Calipari’s dribble drive offense back to form. In the Nike Hoops Summit, Harrison was eye-poppingly good. He had 19 points and five assists to tie Julius Randle for second in scoring for the USA. In all three games Harrison was quick to look for the open player rather than take the ball himself. But, he allowed himself the option by creating opportunities off the dribble. Many times we saw Andrew bring his opponent out only to drive past him for a dish or a score. He also showcased a great mid-range jump shot that will be deadly this season. He will be a worthy follower in the footsteps of John Wall, Derrick Rose, Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague. And it doesn’t hurt that he is bringing his DNA match with him to Kentucky.
3. Johnson, Lee and Young Will Need Some Work- While the big three (Harrison Twins, Randle) will be game ready the moment they step foot on campus, the other big three of the recruiting class need some work. Dakari Johnson possesses all of the skills that a traditional center needs; he is a bull down low, he possesses good foot work around the rim, and he isn’t afraid to battle for rebounds, but he still is raw. James Young has the talent to be an explosive scorer, but I can already tell that he will be the guy that Kentucky fans will be screaming at through their TV screens. He is a slasher, but he is much smoother than Archie Goodwin was. Marcus Lee will be a defensive stopper but will need work on the offensive end and in the weight department.
4. Don’t Expect Much From Derek Willis or Dominique Hawkins This Year- It’s going to be tough to see minutes. Willis and Hawkins are the Kentucky kids and the least heralded of the country’s best recruiting class. Both are going to improve and will be Wildcats for years to come, but don’t expect them to be great overnight. Willis is extremely talented. He is very good at handling the ball at 6’8 but he needs to put on weight. Hawkins is going to be a pit-bull once his game starts to come into shape. He has good offensive skills but defense might be his bread and butter for the first few years.
5. Yes, Andrew Wiggins is that Good and No, We Have No Clue What he is Going to Do- The elephant in the room is Andrew Wiggins. Don’t lie, as you watched the All Star games you were just as interested in what Wiggins was doing as the actual Kentucky players. Part of me didn’t want him to be very good so that if he didn’t come to UK, I could say, “He wasn’t really that great anyway”. But I can’t say that. He really is that good. But I think the comparisons to LeBron in high school are overboard. Wiggins is not the physical freak that LeBron was at his age but he does possess skills that other players just don’t have yet.