With the Jordan Brand Classic approaching this Saturday at 8:00 p.m. (EST) on ESPN2, it’s time to preview the key match-ups to watch throughout the game. This event features each of our top-seven prospects in the class of 2011 and is loaded with scorers as there are six shooting guards including our top three offensive players in #1 Austin Rivers (Duke), #6 Bradley Beal (Florida), and #15 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia).
Point Guard: Marquis Teague (East) vs. Myck Kabongo (West)
This will be one of the best match-ups to watch simply because these two are clearly the best point guards in the class of 2011 and will both look to push the ball up and down the floor. They are both physically gifted with a great athleticism and a quick first step which allows them to consistently get by their defender. They both have the ability to either finish and score or make the pass to an open teammate for the assist. The most interesting scenario to watch between these two will be when Kabongo guards Teague since Kabongo is a great on-the-ball defender while Teague is a great penetrator with an effective dribble-drive. Edge: Teague
Shooting Guard: Austin Rivers (East) vs. Brad Beal (West)
This will be the most exciting match-up to watch since these two guys are best scorers in their class and they are the #1 and #6 overall. They are also the two best shooters in the class and can score in a variety of ways. Rivers and Beal are both excellent slashers as well and can seemingly get into the lane at will. Once in the lane, both have the ability to finish through or around contact. The difference between the two is Rivers excels in one-on-one situations when he loves to use his lethal jab step whereas Beal loves to use screens and other off-the-ball moves to create time and space between him and his defender. Edge: Rivers
Small Forward: Michael Gilchrist (East) vs. Adonis Thomas (West)
These two players are similar in the sense that they both fill up the stat sheet and they are both great rebounders at each end of the floor. Also, both have high motors and love to get into the lane where they are strong and can finish or use great body control to get the easy two. Gilchrist is a player who can score in any situation whether it be in transition or in a half-court set. On the other hand, Thomas is a match-up nightmare since he can use his speed and quickness to get by people or his strength and athleticism to get by others such as Gilchrist. The most interesting thing to watch may be who rebounds better since both crash the boards relentlessly. Edge: Gilchrist
Power Forward: Quincy Miller (East) vs. Kyle Wiltjer (West)
Bucking the trend of all the other match-ups to watch in this game, these two prospects play completely different style games since Miller loves to use his athleticism and explosiveness to thrive in transition and get to the basket whereas Wiltjer likes to play more on the perimeter and take perimeter shots. It will be interesting to see how Miller attacks Wiltjer since Miller can score either from the perimeter or on the low post. On the other hand, it will also be interesting to see how well Wiltjer can score on Miller due to Miller’s athleticism on the perimeter and shot-blocking on the low-post. Look for Miller to use his athleticism to out-play Wiltjer on both ends of the floor. Edge: Miller
Center: Khem Birch (East) vs. Anthony Davis (West)
Although Davis is a power forward and not a center, he will be going up against Birch and will play the five for the West squad. This match-up will be great to watch since they both have great length and run the floor very well. They are also both very good shot-blockers and rebounders. Additionally, both have very similar frames and physical abilities so they match-up well with each other. However, one thing to watch for is how Davis chooses to attack Birch when he’s on the offensive end. Davis has the ability to score on the perimeter due to the fact that he used to be a guard before he grew so expect him to try to take advantage of that. Edge: Davis
Another match-up to watch
Shooting Guard: P.J. Hairston (East) vs. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (West)
This will be another fun match-up to watch since both are among the best offensive players and scorers in the class. Both can shoot the lights out from behind the arc and have range beyond the NBA three-point line. Also, both have the ability to get into the lane consistently as Hairston likes to use his size and strength whereas Caldwell-Pope possesses a quick first step with an initial burst that gets him by his defender. The most interesting match-up to watch between these two is when Caldwell-Pope guards Hairston on defense since he is a very good defender and Hairston is a great scorer. It will be fun to see who wins that particular match-up. Edge: Caldwell-Pope
More players to watch
East Team: James McAdoo
McAdoo may be the most fundamentally sound player in the class on both ends of the court. He has great technique and positions himself well on offense and defense and his effort is never lagging. His rebounding and shot-blocking are also outstanding. He finishes around the basket well too and can make up for teammates’ mistakes. McAdoo is developing his skills very nicely facing the basket and is turning into a combo-forward, and will be a very good power forward in the college ranks.
West Team: Tony Wroten Jr.
He is one of the most powerful point guards in the class and has excellent floor vision and outstanding passing abilities. He has the ability to make plays that seem impossible at times, which can however lead to some turnovers when he tries to make these difficult plays. This is also a great attribute of his though since he can makes those amazing plays and has the daringness to attempt them which more times than not reap spectacular results. The key area he can improve upon his shooting which is streaky. However, the key thing about Wroten is he has all the physical tools you could hope for and has the dedication and daringness to use them to their full potential.
Photo Credit: ESPN