Adidas has lost its right to sponsor uniforms. Those get-ups were downright hideous, nearly rendering each player indistinguishable. The West team resembled a pack of bloody zebras while the East team embodied the spilled blood. Throwback garb next year, please. Wishful thinking.
The ’13 class puts last year’s to shame. Brace yourself seven more months, hoops fans. The talent drought in college basketball has nearly passed. Light on standout centers, the 2013 class is stocked with talent everywhere else — at point, on the wing and in the hybrid forward ilk. Whereas last year’s burger boys muffed the fundamentals, couldn’t sink an uncontested 18-footer, this year’s team flashed the full gamut of skills — dunks, perimeter shots, slashing, crisp passing, blocked shots, even in-your-face half-court defense (at times).
Yes, defense! So maybe guys didn’t get back in transition with the vigor they should have. Whatever. At least both half-court defenses played with a purpose. At these exhibition games, that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Talent is a given, but this group, as opposed to classes of the past, has a competitiveness that sets it apart.
Andrews and Aarons owned the night. Andrew Wiggins, Andrew Harrison and Aaron Gordon were the three best players on the floor. Wiggins led all East scorers with 19 points (6-10 FG, 7-8 FT) while Gordon paced the West with a game-high 24 (10-17 FG). Harrison hit all five of his shots — ten points in all — and added four assists to his line. Twin brother Aaron wasn’t too shabby himself, dishing out five dimes to finish second among all distributors.
MVP. Gordon, who committed to Arizona during media day on Tuesday, was the most impressive player on the floor. He pulled down eight rebounds, converted nine dunks — all uniquely stylistic — and recovered well from his broken windmill blooper. A well-deserved recipient of the game’s Most Valuable Player award. His perimeter game isn’t quite where it needs to be to play the 3 in Tucson, but his handle is sensational for a 6-8 forward and his uncanny floor instincts portend a bright future. Mini Blake? Maybe if Griffin ever had the ball skills Gordon possesses.
Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker went at it. If Wiggins ends up in the ACC, this personal rivalry will be fierce. No two players went harder than the consensus top high school prospect and former SI cover boy. Wiggins owned the scoring, thanks in large measure to a series of gimme shots at the rim. Parker, whose less-than-flashy game doesn’t translate as well to All-Star game environments, atoned for an off-shooting night by showing off the rest of his arsenal. He pulled down eight rebounds, handed out three assists, blocked two shots and poached two more. Wiggins presents the most upside of anyone in the class, but Parker is the most complete player, to date, of the lot.
Cool it with the Wiggins hype. Wiggins is not a transformational talent…yet. He has mouth-watering potential, but some recruitniks need to stop parroting mainstream opinions and think for themselves. Wiggins is not even a sure-fire All-American, let alone the next M.J. or LeBron. He threw down a few jazzy flushes, racked up his points and swanked the athleticism that has scouts mesmerized, but he wasn’t a man among boys on the court. Heck, he was upstaged by the aforesaid Gordon. Those expecting instant brilliance from Wiggins at the college level are laying unrealistic expectations. Ask Harrison Barnes if they’re fun to manage.