We're two years removed from the enthralling Kenner League summer with the freshman class featuring Otto Porter and one year away from the highly anticipated 2014 class. This summer, the attention isn't as focused in McDonough Gym. Greg Whittington was spotted with his leg wrapped up, there's only one incoming freshman, and the stat of primary concern is Josh Smith's weight. Nonetheless, a Saturday afternoon pilgrimage to the back-aching wooden bleachers and hot dogs of McDonough always gives me a slightly crisper sense of delusion in the long post-NCAA meltdown months. Some thoughts from the Saturday games - featuring a full slate of Hoyas:
Stephen Domingo: Chuck Knoblauch. That's all I could think watching him on Saturday. It looked like there was a mental block between him and the basket. In warm-ups, he was putting up knuckle-balls from three; varying his rotation and release from shot to shot. And the scrimmage was not any kinder. He scored zero points on 0-4 shooting (two from three) and on at least three of those shoots he missed the rim by multiple feet. He grabbed a handful of rebound (five) and showed some nice athleticism in a few moved to the paint.
The game itself was a laugher - until down 20, his teammates Austin Freeman and Jon Wallace started trying for real and brought the lead to under 10 with a few minutes on the clock. And as the game was tightening and the effort level cranked up from nonchalant to slightly elevated competitive juices, Domingo was promptly pulled and sat the final minute. Can't draw too much (or anything) from a single Kenner League game, but disappointing.
Bradley Hayes: Hayes was very active, especially in the first half. I had him at 12 points on 5 of 7 shooting and 9 rebounds. Austin and JWall made a conscious effort of feeding him in the post - early on scoring on back to back possession - a righty hook from the left post and then fouled in the same spot on the next time down (he dropped both FTs, repeatable, but line drive shot). He was around the ball often - but not always flashing high awareness or a great position. On a broken fast break, and entry pass to the post was made over his head because he just saw the ball too late. He was beat off the dribble against a faster forward, but he also was able to create some disruption under the hoop (at least two blocks) and a few nice boards.
The most emblematic play was when Austin ran a screen and roll with Hayes, but the play broke down and it was batted away. The ball bounced embarrassingly slowly and Austin ambled to pick it up by the scorers table on a play that surely would've involved multiple players diving to the ground in a non-summer league setting. But Austin then went back and they re-ran the screen and he hit Hayes on the screen. Hayes, in a fluid motion, took a dribble, a long step, and laid the ball in. Pretty fancy footwork for a 7 footer. It seemed if you gave him two reps at everything you ask of a center, he'd get it right at least once. Will be interesting to see if he can find enough consistency to be a contributor.
Riyan Williams: I didn't put together who this rumored walk-on was until the last few minutes of the game, so didn't keep track of his stats. But he played very well in the final two minutes - as mentioned above, the only two minutes of the afternoon played with moderate urgency. And Williams stood out as the only one who looked like was hungry to win. A lean guard, 6-2ish, he scored a handful of buckets in the final two minutes, forced a turnover, fought for a few nice rebounds... and clanked what would've been a clutch free throw. He was announced as "Ryan Williams from Georgetown" - I hope he sticks around. There's no downside in more quickness, energy, and heart on the bench -or at least in practice.
Josh Smith: The Tombs team isn't very good this year. There's a talented core of Hoyas... but the supporting cast doesn't provide much support. In particular, Darrick Wood, the pride of Hutchinson Community College, was very comfortable letting the ball fly every time he touched the ball. It didn't go in very often and it played into the worst of the summer league reputation.
All of that's a roundabout way to say, if you're a guard and Josh Smith is on your team, and you cared even in the slightest about winning - he'd touch the ball every time down the floor until he could no longer stand. The game was another laugher - but there was talent on the floor. Smith was guarded by former Hoya recruit Chris Braswell, who, now graduated, played with some fire and probably a similar mold to what we expect from Hopkins on D.
Smith scored every single time he wanted to (5-6 shooting, 2-4 FT for 12 points) with his lone miss being a no-call when he was raked across the forearm going up to his right. He carved out space on the post with ease, on both blocks, and finished with both hands. He caught almost everything (except when a quicker defender jumped around him for a deflection) and always finished with a soft touch - punctuated a few times by a soft bounce off the front of the rim.
His passing was also notable - an effortless, almost no-look, outlet to start a fast break, a beautiful pass from the post to a cutting non-Hoya (missed), a kick to a wide open three out of a double (missed).
Most impressive was when he caught the ball 15 feet out on the right wing, back down toward the baseline with a few quick dribbles then spun over his shoulder into the lane for a lefty hook. A few times, he scored using a drop step on the low block -- executed by sheer, but limited, movement of his considerable mass. But it was his ability to mix that power with enough speed and footwork to discard a quicker defender was enough for me to confer with the general opinion: IF he can stay on the floor, he could be a special player.
To that point, in perhaps the scariest moment was a thunderous dunk in the second half (wasn't 100% sure he could dunk until that point) but he landed a bit awkwardly - one leg taking the brunt of landing. He was completely fine, but to see a close call on an uncontested dunk ,alone, under the basket, was a reminder of the fragility of pinning delusional hopes for this season on Smith, regardless of talent.
Reggie Cameron: I was most excited to see Reggie of any player, but there wasn't much to go on. It was a quiet afternoon for him; he scored 6 points and went 0-3 from 3pt. He had a few nice boards, some decent activity on the glass, in particular a nice tip to a teammate for a bucket. His teammates weren't looking for him on offense and he didn't assert himself. He twice drove to lane and I was impressed with his first time (the equivalent to what Domingo showed earlier - I had expected him to be a bit more heavy-footed). His shot is quick and low - it has a nice rotation but doesn't get very high. He didn't shoot well on Saturday, but they looked like they had a chance to go in out of his hand. He did score once from the block and knocked down two free throws with a similar stroke to his treys - low liners.
D'Vauntes Smith Rivera: DSR looked physically impressive. Strong and fit. His play was only so-so, dominating the ball, but not being overly impressive as a distributor. He scored 14 point, but was only 2-9 from 3pt range. The most memorable play of the day was soaring left dunk of a drive in the half court. It was an impressive display of athleticism.
Had to duck out to an undocumented dinner, so only caught the first half of the final Hoya-laden match up of the day. Of note: Jabril and Aaron stood next to each other at the tip and looked exactly the same height from my perspective. With Aaron guarding him, Jabril took a three at the top of the key on his first possession of the game. He missed, but he knows that if he can hit his threes, he can break defenders who don't want to black him tight on the perimeter (he made a three from the same spot later in the possession). Jabril also posted up and scored on Bowen - a potential potent offensive weapon if JT3 uses to sort of guard mismatched on Jabril. In my limited time - Bowen was as we expect - an active off ball player who scored around the basket. Also, was struck by how thin Hopkins looked. Very lean. Not what you expect of someone playing center in the Big East... based on body size alone, does seem to be some merit to school of thought that JT3 hopes that Smith-Moses-Hayes can man the center position for long stretches and play Nate and Hopkins at the four and go big at the three.
Fancy spreadsheet with stats for the entire weekend RIGHT HERE.