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What to watch: McDonald’s AA week

CHICAGO– Practice for the 2012 McDonald’s All-American game tips off Sunday afternoon. Unlike many years in the past, this year’s team was announced with little controversy and few head-scratching picks. With the game scheduled for Wednesday night in the United Center, here’s a look at some of the storylines that we’ll be following during the practices and scrimmages leading up to the game.

How will Purvis look in a high-level setting?

Ever since N.C. State commitment Rodney Purvis began his high school career there has been a debate over whether he’s a point guard or a slashing shooting guard. After evaluating him, we’ve settled in on him as a point guard because he’s a player who needs to have the ball in his hands and be operating off the bounce to make the most impact. During the summer, he looked great distributing the ball. During several viewings during the high school season, though, Purvis struggled with decisions and was often frustrated. Could it have been a few bad games? Or is there a bigger issue in finding a natural position for him. The Mickey D’s festivities will also give Purvis a chance to play alongside his future backcourt partner, point guard Tyler Lewis, to see how they play off of each other.

Have we under-rated Gary Harris

Given that Gary Harris has a five-star rating and is ranked No. 25 overall in the class of 2012, it’s clear that Rivals.com thinks highly of the Fisher (Ind.) Hamilton Southeastern wing. However, there are many observers who feel that he’s been under-ranked despite his lofty status. Reportedly having grown to nearly 6 feet 6, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the development of Harris’ jumper and ability to attack with his off hand to make sure that he’s been ranked appropriately.

How good is Kris Dunn?

Coming out of the July evaluation period, Rivals.com was very aggressive of our ranking of New London (Conn.) point guard Kris Dunn. With his blend of size, athleticism and playmaking instincts, he appears to us to be a unique prospect and has the ideal physical makeup of the game’s top point guards. The 6-foot-3 Providence commitment put up monstrous numbers as a high school senior and we’re curious to see how that translates into high-level practice situations.

What’s up with Anthony Bennett

Because he’s been out with injury during our chances to evaluate him during the high school season, we’ve not yet gotten a good look at five-star combo-forward Anthony Bennett. A mix of Larry Johnson and Rodney Rogers in terms of playing style, the aggressive 6-foot-7 (maybe 6-foot-8) Canadian is a big-time athlete who is relentless on the boards and has touch to 20 feet. Has his off-the-dribble game come along? Is he in shape? And maybe most importantly, is the uncommitted player willing to give any hints about his final destination?

Will Ridley stay 2012 or go 2013?

One of the more unique stories to follow headed into the McDonald’s practice is the status of Texas-bound Cameron Ridley. Although he committed to Rick Barnes fairly early in the process, the 6-foot-10 center from Ft. Bend (Texas) Bush elected not to sign a letter of intent during the early signing period. While he remains committed to Texas, his status is up in the air. Will he sign in April or will he end up headed to prep school, opening his recruitment and becoming a member of the class of 2013? Right now, none of those answers are very clear.

When will the uncommitted players decide?

In addition to the previously mentioned Bennett, others at the McDonald’s game who remain undecided include Georgia big man Tony Parker, Philadelphia forward Amile Jefferson, Mississippi wing Devonta Pollard and the nation’s top player, Las Vegas wing Shabazz Muhammad. Muhammad, a 6-foot-6 lefty, recently settled in on a date of April 10th for his decision and he’s still got a visit coming to UCLA after seeing Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and Texas AM officially. A lean 6-foot-8 forward, Jefferson has been rumored to be making a decision “any day now” since at least January and coaches at Duke, North Carolina State and local programs such as Temple are waiting for his decision. Pollard looks to be working his way towards a mid-April decision and says he still wants to visit Georgetown and Kentucky. He’s already been to Texas and Missouri and even took a second Mizzou visit a few weeks ago. Alabama and Mississippi State (even though the Bulldogs need to hire a coach to stay in the race) remain under consideration. Finally, Parker looks to be done taking visits and has been a rumored lean to all of the remaining schools — Kansas, Duke, UCLA, Memphis and Ohio State — at one point or another.



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