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March 29, 2005Tuesday's practices at the McDonald's All American game followed the same script as the two previous practices. The East squad continued to work primarily without defense, running through the different aspects of their offense. The West squad, however, worked a lot more on the transition game and spent a lot of time playing five on five.
For the West, Bobby Frasor, Amir Johnson and Micah Downs had much better practice sessions after lack luster performances the first two days.
Monta Ellis, once again, had a spectacular practice. He handled the ball well, made sound decisions and shot lights out. Whether off the catch or the bounce going left or right, Ellis found the bottom of the net. Ellis, who has made it known that he is certainly interested in entering the draft, has done more than any other player to raise his stock in the eyes of the NBA personnel.
Frasor, who is still not shooting the ball up to par, played strong defense and passed the ball extremely well, clearly outplaying Calvin Miles. Miles shot the ball well again today, but struggled handling the ball and struggled defensively at times.
Johnson fared much better against the bruising Tyler Hansbrough than he did yesterday. The wiry Johnson, who is more of a finesse player, was stronger with the ball and even had a nice spin move from the high post where he scored over Hansbrough.
Downs, who might have been pressing with so many NBA scouts in the stands, looked much more comfortable in today's action. He knocked down some jumpers on the wing and had some nice passes and finishes in transition. Downs is at his best in an up and down open court style of play. Lacking in strength, he needs space to utilize his athleticism.
The one other player who has rivaled Ellis in catching the attention of the NBA personnel is Josh McRoberts of the East squad. McRoberts has NBA size, a tremendous knowledge of the game and a very high skill level for a big forward.
McRoberts, however, told Rivals.com to expect him in a Duke uniform next year despite all the talk about him and the NBA.
"I'll definitely be at Duke next year," said McRoberts. "It's an honor that people think I'm ready to play in the NBA. But this talk about the NBA is nothing I have said, and I don't know where it came from."
One player that the NBA personnel cannot help but notice, but is still flying somewhat under the radar of NBA chatter, is Andrew Bynum of the East squad. At 17-years old and approaching 7-feet in height, Bynum has significantly improved his mobility since this summer. Although he does not yet have the explosiveness to consistently finish in the post, he does already have solid back to the basket post moves. And he certainly has the frame of an NBA center. In the McDonald's program he is listed at 300-pounds.
During five on five work, the East might have tipped its hand as to what the starting line up will be Wednesday night. One of the groups was comprised of Greg Paulus, Louis Williams, Eric Devendorf, Josh McRoberts and Richard Hendrix. Danny Green also was rotating with this group and has a chance to start, most likely in place of Devendorf.