McDonald's: What to watch West Team

Marcus Smart

The West team at the McDonald's All-American Game will have some intense practices. Leading the way will be a fun battle to watch between Marcus Smart and Shabazz Muhammad.

From a scouting and evaluation perspective it is the practices and what takes place there that are most valuable during the week of the McDonald's All-American Game. While the game itself tends to turn into a dunk contest, practices with NBA personnel, scouts, and a controlled environment give a good sense of where things stand.

Here is a look at what to keep an eye out for this year when it comes to the West team.

Maybe the most intriguing individual matchup for the West squad is on the wing where Marcus Smart and Shabazz Muhammad are likely to go right at each other. Muhammad and Smart met up in a classic game at the Jayhawk Invitational last May, but foul trouble took Smart off the floor, and that allowed Muhammad to go off.

Muhammad is clearly the premier wing in the class, but Smart might be the best physical matchup for him in the country given his size, strength, and toughness. Add in that both Smart and Muhammad are big time competitors, and it is likely that this one-on-one battle could be a great one all week long. Expect some fireworks between these two.

From a high-profile perspective Muhammad against Smart might be the best battle, but possibly the one with most intrigue is Yogi Ferrell going against Marcus Paige. Ferrell and Paige are two of the four best point guards in the country, and there is a big debate on which one is better.

In the past the two met up at the Spiece Run ‘N Slam and to be honest both were very underwhelming in a head-to-head matchup. Now they get their chance to prove which one is better over the course of multiple days.

What is interesting about these two is how different they are at the position. Ferrell is an athletic scoring point guard who uses his quickness to attack at all times. Paige is a pass first steady point guard who uses his intelligence to make plays. The contrast in styles should make it very interesting to watch these two go at it.

Another very intriguing matchup to watch involves Archie Goodwin and Rasheed Sulaimon. Goodwin is the best player in the country at attacking the rim and Sulaimon is one of the best perimeter defenders in the country. Those two both use athleticism and strength to get things done, and which player can assert his will on the other will be fun to watch.

Down on the interior several fun matchups can take place. High school teammates Brandon Ashley and Anthony Bennett will have a chance to matchup and then a very skilled kid such as Grant Jerrett will be asked to face off with the length and athleticism of Isaiah Austin as well as the strength and pure size of Cameron Ridley.

Since outside of Ridley all of the players can play either the power forward or center, which one emerges from the pack having the best week will be fun to watch. Will it be the athleticism and power of Bennett, the skill of Jerrett, the shot blocking of Austin, the raw size of Ridley, or the all around game of Ashley. No matter who emerges, it will be fun to watch.

Overall the West should have some very interesting battles during their practice time and when they go live during scrimmage situations.

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