Nike Day 2: recap

INDIANAPOLIS – It was a busy day at the Nike Camp and it is only going to get more hectic. Players were in classes all day and got to strut their stuff during controlled scrimmages at night. In between were interview sessions where the players had some interesting things to say. We have all the day's highlights.

Rudy Gay of Baltimore sure does pass the eyeball test. The 6-7 forward has a list a mile long, but the Cats are on it. Arizona is joined by the likes of Georgetown, Maryland, UConn and Syracuse, to name a few. The biggest issue may be what position he plays. Listed as a small forward, he seems more comfortable close to the basket. He's long and lean and quick enough to guard opponents on the perimeter, but most of his points come from in close. He loves the turn-around from the baseline and attacks the hoop. He matched up with Ra'Sean Dickey and held his own.

Dickey, by the way, is a good player. He didn't dominate, but showed why half the ACC is calling.

Brian Johnson is another forward who likes the Cats. The 6-8 post player from Arlington, VA., is very athletic and very strong. He has a solid body and looks much more mature than his 17 years. He made it sound like it could be between Arizona and North Carolina, but we're hearing that UNC is in the lead.

Aside from being well put together, Johnson also has good moves. He can handle the ball in the open court and showcased a nice pull-up jumper that is surprising for a player his size.

Tyler Hansbrough of Poplar Bluff, MO., has the Cats on his long list. The '05 big man could be one of the better recruits next season. He is very athletic and long, yet aggressive on the inside. He needs to add bulk, but should be a player the Cats want to keep an eye on. They'll have to battle Michigan State, Missouri, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Arkansas. Al Jefferson was a very popular person among the media. The Arkansas recruit held court with a host of reporters who wanted his life story. During one interview, the five-star power forward who at one point was over 300 pounds said, "that weight snuck up on me."

Jefferson has a load of talent, but he let his emotions get to him during his team's 70-42 loss. Early on he got frustrated and did a poor job hiding his feelings. He regrouped and played well, but his team could not contain a talented unit led by Johnson.

One particular game had a very intriguing match-up for Wildcat fans. Committed Cats Jawann McClellan and Nic Wise squared off. The two Houston preps never played at the same time, but the game was an entertaining one.

Ironically enough McClellan actually had to play on the California team (all teams are named after colleges and are broken up into conference). His shot was off, but he was a scoring machine. He did not force much from the outside, but attacked the hoop and was a monster in transition.

One thing that was very good to see was that he was much more focused on rebounding and moving without the ball. When we saw him two months ago in Las Vegas he tended to float around the perimeter and wait for the ball to come to him. This time out he moved pretty well without the ball and made a great effort to battle for rebounds, especially on the offensive end. He may wind up as a fringe top-25 recruit, but he has the skills and desire that Lute Olson will love.

McClellan had some decent players on his team but they were no match for Wise's Wake Forest club. Actually Wise had a less-than-stellar outing. As one of the few 2006 players at this camp, he looked a bit nervous and seemed to be trying to figure out his role. He played very tentative, rarely doing anything with the ball in his hands. He did not play poorly, he made few mistakes, but did little to make his team better. He didn't attempt a shot until late in the game and after draining the three-pointer he seemed to settle down a bit and relax. It will be interesting to see how he fares tomorrow during position drills and the 3-on-3 games.

Although short, Wise is solid. He still has a trace of baby fat, but looks like he will have a solid build, not unlike that of Jason Gardner. You can tell he's a point guard, as he is clearly more comfortable with the ball in his hands. He doesn't move well without the ball, which is quite common for young players, especially point guards.

On his team was 6-9 Davis Nwankwo of College Park, MD. Nwankwo is hearing from several schools, including Stanford, UConn, Georgetown, Maryland, Miami (Fl.) and the UA. He's very quick and athletic, but may lack explosiveness that a player like him needs. We need to see more of him before being too critical.

The surprise of the practice session may have been Magnum Rolle. Rolle, from Freeport in the Bahamas, is a legit 6-11 and reminded us of a young Channing Frye. Like Frye at that age, Rolle is very thin. Also like Frye, he's a terrific athlete, very long, with a ton of upside. He can play inside or on the perimeter without any hesitation. He hit threes and yet showed some back-to-the-basket moves that were impressive.

Also on Rolle's team was Corey Brewer. The recent Florida commitment is one heck of an athlete who should thrive in the Gators' up-tempo attack. He was a monster in transition and can throw it down with the best of them. His jumper is not as far along, and if that comes around…watch out!

The best player of the night may very well have been Malik Hairston. Hairston is a lights-out shooter who is also very athletic. If he missed a three-pointer, we didn't see it. The Cats are in on the Detroit native, but it may be hard to pry him away from the Big Ten. We hear Michigan State and Ohio State are in the lead.

Hairston was on the same team as another Wildcat recruit, Oregon's Maarty Leunen. The 6-8 Leunen was very impressive as well. He is a smart player who has a natural feel for the game. He makes few mistakes and does all the little things. He sets pick, makes passes and twice scored off back-door cuts on inbound plays. He has a nice stroke and is deceptively athletic.

Isaiah Swann played against Hairston and Leunen and was a bit of a disappointment. The Wildcats have been looking at the combo-guard, but we came away less than impressed. He is a true combo-guard, he plays just as well with or without the ball, but he just didn't do much. He had some nice looks at guys down low, but the ball went awry when he either passed too hard or the recipient misplayed the good passes. He has a nice build and good size, but he'll have to do more to impress teams like Arizona.

Another player who passes the eyeball test is Shaun Pruitt. Pruitt is big and strong, yet very quick. Unfortunately he didn't always play hard. In the small amount of time we watched him he floated a little bit too much. When he was aggressive he was impressive. He has some nice moves and plays better close to the basket, but he can play a little bit away from the basket as well.

Like Pruitt, Mohamed Tangara failed to bowl us over in the small amount of time that we watched him. Admittedly, we didn't see enough to make a thorough evaluation, but in the time we did watch he didn't make a huge impact.

We didn't see much of Josh McRoberts, but he looked good when we saw him. One AAU coach who is familiar with his game said that the 6-9 big man from Carmel, Indiana "can freaking play!" McRoberts, one of the top players in the '05 class, likes the Cats along with a host of others.

Harvey Perry Jr. likes Arizona a lot, but probably does not fit into its plans. The guard from Nevada has grown a few inches since last summer and is pretty athletic, but may not be the type of combo-guard the UA wants.

LA's Marcus Johnson is very athletic and long and should be one of the better wings in '05. He likes the Wildcats, UCLA, Syracuse and USC. He wasn't a huge factor in the game we saw, but his ability is apparent.

Another '05 player we like is Martell Webster. The Seattle star likes the Cats a lot. He is athletic and has a very nice stroke, but tends to stand around a lot. On a few occasions he let his team run the break and waited at mid-court to play defense. With a little more aggressiveness he could be an elite recruit.

One other 2006 player that caught our eye was New York's Curtis Kelley. If Kelley better learns the game he could be among the best in his class. Obviously the talent is there as many freshmen do not get the invite to the Nike Camp.

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