Nike Camp Day 3, pt. 2

INDIANAPOLIS – It was a day that saw a tornado warning, the birth of a media star, a halfcourt winner, a player backing out of a verbal and a lot of improvement. The Nike All-American Camp is always a spectacle and the third day was nothing different.

The evening session was halted during the first game when the tornado warning sirens went off. The games were halted immediately and the entire building was escorted into locker rooms. I had the good fortune of being in a room with Rick Pitino, Kelvin Sampson, Tubby Smith and former NBA player Rex Chapman, among many others. The tornado was reported to touch down, but was nowhere near the IUPUI campus, so the games resumed.

The shot of the day went to A.J. Ratliff of Indianapolis' North Central High School. Ratliff hit a halfcourt shot with just seconds to play in a 62-61 win. Ratliff entered the tournament as the 50th-rated player, but is climbing up the charts. He's been teaming with another A.J., A.J. Price, and the two are attracting a lot of interest. Illinois is said to like both of them and Kansas is also in the hunt.

A number of players rebounded after rough starts. Mohamed Tangara, a big man on the Wildcats' wish list, had a much better day. He was especially impressive in the morning 3-on-3 drills where he showed power and tenacity that were missing on Monday.

Isaiah Swann had a better day as well. The combo-guard from Oak Hill Academy may not be good enough to fit into the Wildcats' plans, but he showed more confidence and was especially impressive when using his strength. Swann is well put together and hit the boards very well. Swann was aggressive today and it paid off for his team.

Davis Nwankwo was hit or miss on Monday and that was again the case on Tuesday. Nwankwo had a great morning session and played well in his first game of the day. Lute Olson was on hand during the first game and must have liked what he saw because he was back again for the nightcap. Things did not go well for Nwankwo the second time around. The power forward from Maryland struggled to adjust to tight officiating and fouled out early in the second half. Although visibly disappointed, he kept his head held up high and encouraged his teammates as they came off the floor.

The biggest news of the day was that the nation's top two-guard, Michigan's Joe Crawford, decommitted from the Wolverines. Crawford's decision may have serious bearing on the Wildcats. His high school teammate, wing forward Malik Hairston, may chose to follow Crawford and the Cats are not looking for a two-guard due to add to the commitment from Jawann McClellan.

Hairston has been the talk of the event. The small forward is one of the best players at the camp and was surrounded by media for the entire one-hour interview session. Another Crawford, Virginia's Tyler Crawford, could be the breakout player of the camp. Crawford was 6-of-7 from three-point range in the first game and wasn't far below that in the second game. He's a terrific athlete and arguably one of the top two or three perimeter shooters in Indianapolis.

Early in the day we witnessed the battle of the LA point guards. UCLA bound Jordan Farmar went up against Mike Gerrity of Mater Dei. Although completely different, both bring a lot to the table. Farmar is the more gifted athletically and will remain one of the top five point guards in the class. He is so smooth and calm, yet gets the ball up and down the court. It is easy to see why the Cats were interested.

Gerrity is a year younger and not quite the athlete that Farmar is. He is very reminiscent of some of the Duke point guards of the early 90s. He's strong and aggressive and has a lot of heart and toughness. He was not afraid of Farmar's pedigree and went right after the blue-chipper. Gerrity may not be an elite guy, but he did turn some heads.

The Cats are doing very well with the 2005 kids. A bunch of very good players like Arizona and did nothing to hurt their chances with the elite programs with their play today.

We got our first look at Jamal Boykin today and liked what we saw. The forward from LA's Fairfax High School compares himself to Elton Brand or Ben Wallace. He feels he's a bit undersized but will work hard for everything he gets. He's already at least 6-7 and is expected to grow a few more inches. Although he's listed as a three, he and several recruiting experts believe that he is better suited at the four. He played the wing today at the camp and looked very solid.

"I like about 20 schools right now," Boykin said. "But I've always liked Duke, UCLA and of course Arizona."

Another combo player is Chicago's Julian Wright. Wright is already 6-7 and could develop into a true combo-forward. He's long and agile, but also tough on the boards. We like what we saw from a player who idolizes Kevin Garnett.

Marcus Johnson continues to play well. A true wing, he's shown great patience and does not force much. Johnson is in the 6-5 range and bares a slight resemblance to former Cat Gilbert Arenas. He claims that former Westchester alum Hassan Adams has not put the pressure on, but did note that he was around a lot during the summer and has nothing but good things to say about the Wildcats. Amir Johnson is another LA kid who is turning heads. We saw him back in the spring, but came away very impressed. He's a pure post player who is just athletic enough to scare you out on the perimeter. He moves very well and has a soft touch to his shots. His jumper needs work, but it looks like it will become a weapon.

We've discussed Martell Webster already, but he continues to impress. He reminds us a lot of Marvin Williams, except he will be a pure wing. His shot is impressive and he's pretty strong for a young player.

The two Midwest big men continue to play well. Tyler Hansbrough is still a little rough, but the skills are apparent. He runs the floor very well and passes pretty well from both the high post and down low. He gets great lift on his jumper, but it isn't as accurate as he'd like. He's better using post moves and had a very nice jump stop and finish. He had to play the stronger Ra'Sean Dickey and held his own against the older player.

Indiana's Josh McRoberts has remained impressive as well. He's very quick and has good hands. He's not a very good shot blocker, but works hard on the glass. He looks to be a good passer and actually had the pass of the day. He got the rebound and started the break. While on the move he made a long pass to Ratliff on the run. Ratliff let the pass bounce and caught it in the air and without coming down laid the ball in.

Nic Wise and yesterday's find Curtis Kelly aren't the only 2006 players we've had our eyes on. Dallas' Darrell Arthur has some hype, but he didn't live up to it in the game we saw. Arthur played very tentative and frankly did not do much. In the game we watched he did not take a shot and probably had just two rebounds. What Arthur does have is upside. He is athletic and looks to get a lot taller. He's in the 6-8 range, but should be a nice, tall post player when it is all said and done.

Arthur likes Arizona and is in fact friends with Wise. Apparently Wise is putting the Wildcat bug in Arthur's ear in case the Cats offer.

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