Wednesday marked the first scrimmage of 2012, with another to follow next week, and welcomed home Jeff Hawkins, Aaron Miles, Brady Morningstar and Julian Wright to tussle with members of the current team in front of hundreds of campers and a few dozen fans.
Phog.net was on hand, and before we provide you with a few of our thoughts, let's just go ahead and throw out there the usual scrimmage caveat: It's a fool's errand to try and read anything solid into these games. It's pickup basketball and it's meant to be fun and free flowing.
That said, here's what stood out to us:
* Jeff Withey looked good. Sure, his numbers might be a little inflated due to the tremendous size advantage he enjoyed over his opposition, but let's face it - Jeff enjoys that advantage over just about everyone. The senior center, fresh off a very strong NCAA Tournament run, looked aggressive in hunting lobs and running the break.
* Perry Ellis was Perry Ellis. Anyone who has seen him play knows how under control the Wichita native plays, and how versatile his game is. He scored over Withey twice, once on a baseline drive in which he displayed his savvy by using a reverse layup and bringing the rim in to protect against the lanky shot-blocker, rebounded, dished out a nifty assist to Wright for a dunk and caught a lob himself. He was regarded as one of the elite prospects in the Class of 2012 for a reason.
* There's a whole lot of athleticism in this group, and Elijah Johnson didn't even play. Ben McLemore, Jamari Traylor (Also sidelined with minor injuries), Andrew White, Perry Ellis, Jeff Withey, Justin Wesley…they're all sky-walkers.
* Self wasn't shy in praising McLemore during his pre-game player introductions. Noting that nothing was certain because he hadn't seen him yet in a game, he added that the freshman's talent level was "off the charts." We saw flashes off it during the scrimmage. He couldn't buy a bucket from beyond the arc - it was a problem for virtually everyone - but he had the play of the day with a vicious tomahawk dunk after rebounding his own missed jumper, and had a couple of nice slashing buckets as well.
We saw McLemore a bit as an AAU standout with the St. Louis Eagles, and it's noticeable how far his ball handling and confidence have come. He could really be something special once his legs are under him.
* Speaking of confidence, Naadir Tharpe ran the point with aplomb and did everything one could want. He picked pockets, dropped dimes and drove to the rack for buckets of his own. We're the first to admit we were a little surprise by how little he contributed as a freshman, so hopefully this is a sign of things to come. He looked good.
* Andrew White is extremely impressive physically. He got out in transition for a couple of nice buckets and splashed one deep three, and he looks ready to play in the Big 12 right now. He looks to be every bit of 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds or so.
* Justin Wesley showed off his insane leaping ability with a couple of ferocious dunks and generally looked more comfortable. With the flood of freshman bigs it's hard to say how much he'll play, but he's got the edge in experience and he's borderline impossible to top as an athlete.
* Elijah Johnson is still on the mend from post-season surgery, and Self said is expected to be out another 3.5 weeks. For what it's worth, he looked healthy and in good spirits acting as the "coach" of the blue team.
* Oh yeah, and the Blue Team emerged victorious, 62-51.
Check back with Phog.net for features on Perry Ellis, Landen Lucas and Ben McLemore on Thursday, and be sure to stop by next week for more coverage from the second alumni scrimmage of the summer!