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McDonald’s All American Day 2 Notes: Kyle Wiltjer Steals The Spotlight

Published by on March 29, 2011

After a solid ending to the first day of the 2011 McDonald’s All-American festivities, we were up 7AM today prepping for a long day ahead us. The second day was similar to the first as we saw the 24 players get split up to go through drills and eventually run scrimmages — allowing the scouts present time to further evaluate the prospects.

The performance between the three Canadians wasn’t as balanced as it was on the first day. Khem Birch started off solid but things took a turn as time progressed. He struggled around the rim and, during many occasions, he was unable to hold onto balls that were delivered to him when his teammates attempted to feed him on the inside. To top it off, Birch went down after an elbow caught him above his eye causing a gash that forced him to sit the rest of practice while he was being patched up.

As great as player he is, Myck Kabongo’s game was off in terms of decision making, turning the ball over more times than we could count. With that said, he did do a solid job of setting guys up — especially his fellow Canadian and West teammate Kyle Wiltjer.

“I Had a great time at practice today,” Wiltjer said of Kabongo’s play making skills. “It was fun running with Myck. He saw that I struggled little bit the first day and he helped find me in goods spots today. He knows exactly where I like the ball.”

Wiltjer Steals The Day

While the other selected Canadians were a tad off, power forward Kyle Wiltjer took the gym by storm, ranking among the best players that hit the court all day.

He excellently made use of a series of shoulder fakes with his back to basket and when he faced up, he found success by utilizing pump fakes and jab step that got defenders a little off balance, allowing him to make a move to the basket where he put his great hands and soft touch around the hoop on display, finishing frequently.

Shooting the ball was another strength that we saw of Wiltjer as he was great during pick-and-pop situations, knocking countless jumpers, stirring up quite the buzz around the gym about his perimeter stroke.

Wiltjer’s unique offensive repertoire is a big reason why he’s Kentucky-bound and he’s well-aware of the advantage it gives him over those trying to guard him.

“I like to use my versitillity against players,” he said. ” I can step out and hit a couple of threes, then [the defence has to] respect [my shot]. I dont have to be the fastest guy out there, I can find ways to get the basket, make jumpers and just try to be versatile.”

The Wiltjer Show Continues during Jam Fest

After the display Wiltjer put on during practice we got a two-hour break before heading to Chicago State arena for the Powerade Jam Fest session, featuring a skills challenge, a three-point shootout and the main show, a slam dunk competition. The three Canadians participated in one of each contest with Kabongo doing the skills challenge, Wiltjer in the three-point shootout and Birch taking part in the slam dunk competition.

Skills Competition
Going into the skills challenge, Kabongo’s exceptional speed and quickness got him into the final three where he fell just short to Syracuse-bound guard Micheal Carter-Williams.

1st- Micheal Carter-Williams Time: 26.1 (winner)
2nd- Myck Kabongo Time: 31.8
3rd- Bradley Beal Time: 36.9

Three-Point Shootout
Just before the three-point shootout, a well respected figure in the basketball scene guaranteed a Wiltjer victory and we didn’t doubt him for a moment — particularly after seeing the way he shot the ball earlier during the scrimmages. Wiltjer wouldn’t disappoint as he wasn’t just pure from outside he was also clutch, nailing a money ball with a few seconds left that enabled him to eclipse the score of Duke-bound point guard Quinn Cook to win the competition.

1st- Kyle Wiltjer…Score:17 (winner)
2nd- Quin Cook…Score 15
3rd- Kentavoius Caldwell Pope and P.J. Hairston… Score: 9

Slam Dunk Competition
When we first found out Birch was participating in the slam dunk contest we were very doubtful of his chances but still curious to see what the Montreal native could pull out. He’s an outstanding game dunker but we didn’t think what he did in live play translated very well in a judged exhibition and our thoughts were pretty accurate as was eliminated after the first round. As the rest of the competition progressed with Birch out we thought the winner would end up being Marshall Plumlee with Austin Rivers as the runner-up but the judges, for some reason, saw something else entirely and awarded the dunking crown to LeBryan Nash, even though he struggled to complete jams.

That wraps up the second day of McDonald’s All-American week. Click here for all of our coverage and analysis on the 2011 McDonald’s All-American week.
Follow CROWN’s Gilbert Muako on twitter @GilMuako for updates and stay tuned to CROWN as the coverage continues.

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