CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – Wednesday’s Day 1 of the 19th NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp was all about players and coaches checking in, slapping on Under Armour shoes and clothing and being briefed on the rules and parameters of the four-day event at the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena.
Of course – although there were no games, per se, played – the players also had an opportunity to put the skills that got them invited to the camp on display.
The players, broken up into 10 teams, rotated through 10 stations (half-courts) for about three and a half hours of drill work before the teams spent about an hour’s worth of orientation on preparation for the start of games (Thursday morning).
Impressing during 1-on-1, 2-on-2 and 3-on-drills isn’t necessarily a precursor to catching onlookers’ attention during games.
But it’s a good start.
Here are some of the players I was most impressed with Wednesday afternoon:
*Cliff Alexander (Chicago, IL, Curie) was selected the Most Outstanding Player during the June 1-3 Pangos All-American Camp in Long Beach, CA.
If his performance during drills on Wednesday should be taken as an indication, he could be in position to bag similar honors following the Saturday night conclusion of this camp.
Alexander was usually matched against another outstanding power forward-type, Michael Young (Newark, NJ, St. Benedict’s), during the 12 minutes or so when they were on the court I was sitting closest to.
Young ended things with a nifty layup with his off (left) hand around Alexander but the junior-to-be got the better of his soon-to-be-senior counterpart.
There might not be a more physically forceful power forward in the prep ranks, regardless of class than Alexander, who might lead the camp in both scoring and rebounding.
*The Lakers and Heat (camp teams are named for NBA franchises) hook up in one of the camp’s first games (at 10:45) Thursday morning at 10:45 on Court 1.
One potential matchup in that game could be a dandy – the Lakers’ Andrew Harrison (Houston, TX, Travis) vs. the Heat’s Nigel Williams-Goss (Henderson, NV, Findlay Prep), pitting two of the best point guard prospects in the Class of 2013.
Williams-Goss fed the post in the drills as well as anyone and did an excellent job of stopping dribble penetration.
Harrison? He got to the rim and scored with matter-of-fact ease against a couple of very good Lakers’ teammates (Allerik Freeman and Tadrick Jackson).
*Mamadou Ndiaye, the tallest player in the camp by more than a half foot (he’s listed at 7-foot-5, he claims he’s 7-4 and some believe he’s at least 7-6), proved to be more than just a topic of conversation about his immense size.
Ndiaya, who matriculated to the U.S. from Senegal two years ago and now attends – and plays for – tiny Brethren Christian (about 250 students are enrolled) in the Southern California beach-front community of Huntington Beach, was, not surprisingly, all but un-guardable, 1-on-1, in the drills.
Let the comparisons to Shawn Bradley and Yao Ming begin . . .
He might be matched against a countryman, 6-10 Sidy Mohamed, when Ndiaye’s Thunder squad plays the Hawks at 10:45 on Court 3 Thursday morning.
*Nick King (Memphis, TN, East) and Jarell Martin (Baton Rouge, LA, Madison Prep), two of the better forwards in the South and beyond, had some nice 1-on-1 skirmishes in drills Thursday.
The left-handed King, who was very good when I watched him at the Nike EYBL in Hayward, CA, over Memorial Weekend, is one of the elite jump shooters among frontcourt players.
Martin, who was one of the five best performers at the Pangos All-American Camp, isn’t nearly the jump-shooting specialist that King is but has a nice blend of power and finesse.
*Another player in pursuit of scoring and rebounding title this week could be 6-7 Kevin Looney (Milwaukee, WI, Hamilton), who could score about as readily as doe Alexander and the Harrison brothers (Andrew and twin Aaron) do.
Frank Burlison is one of the most respected basketball writers and basketball talent evaluators in the anywhere. He’s an original (1978) member of the McDonald’s All-American Selection/Advisory Committee and was inducted into the United States Basketball Writers’ Association Hall of Fame during the 2005 Final Four in St. Louis. You can catch his writing, player evaluations and comments on the sport – on all levels – at www.BurlisonOnBasketball.com and via his Twitter account – FrankieBur. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org