Nike Gets Off to a Fast Start

In terms of excitement and anticipation, the first day of the July evaluation period is about as good as it gets in the world of grassroots basketball. The 2005 evaluation period got off to a start on Wednesday and a throng of coaches assembled in Indianapolis for the first day of the Nike All-American Camp.

This year the folks at Nike decided to trim the camp from roughly 180 kids to only 120 and the result was a few less coaches, but much more competitive basketball.

Jerryd Bayless - Just a few weeks ago the 6-2 WG/PG from Arizona got off to a very sluggish start at the NBPA Top 100 Camp. Perhaps with that performance hanging in the back of his mind, Bayless came out with a much more aggressive demeanor at Nike. He used his quick crossover and explosive first step to attack the basket at every opportunity and was letting it fly with regularity on pull-up jumpers and sweet step-back threes. Some jump shots rimmed out on him but you have to credit him for a terrific day. He said that the schools recruiting him the hardest are Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina and Texas and claimed offers from all four.

Gary Johnson - The 6-7 BF/WF from Houston (TX) Aldine just may have had the best performance of the night. He looked another noted tough guy in Duke Crews in the face and took it right at him. His game is all about quickness, grace, power around the glass and the ability to finish well with either hand. He also threw in a couple of medium range jumpers and controlled the glass. While his size isn’t ideal for the low post, his ability to face up and play quickly makes up for a lack of a couple of inches.

Spencer Hawes - Not surprisingly the 6-11 BF/C didn’t get the number of touches he deserved but he was very efficient with the touches he got. He hit a nice half hook with his left hand, spun by UConn commitment Curtis Kelly for a nice jam in the lane, ran the court and blocked some shots. He looks a bit awkward at times running the court but certainly gets the job done and might have been the most competitive and intense player all night.


Oregonian Kyle Singler was in the building last night but did not play in his team’s first game. Word is he’ll be ready to go on Thursday. … Didn’t get to see him play, but CJ Henry’s younger brother Xavier Henry generated a lot of buzz. Word around the gym was that the precocious 6-5 WF/WG who has yet to play a high school game was stroking some threes and flaunting his ridiculous athleticism. Had the chance to spend some time with him in the interview room and he made it pretty clear that he’s only interested in Kansas and North Carolina. …

Making a statement with his play on Wednesday evening was Ramar “Don’t say I can’t run the point” (an exact quote by the way) Smith. The powerful 6-2 WG/PG from Detroit is at his best attacking from the wing and causing damage in the lane, but he’s slowly proving he can run some point as well. He’s one of those kids who listened to some pretty pointed criticism about his game this spring, took it to heart and has made some positive changes in his play. He pretty much ate Arizona commitment Nic Wise alive and was too much for the bulky 5-9 PG to handle. … The early leader for steal recruit of the year is Dajuan Summers a gifted 6-8 scorer from Baltimore. He committed early to Georgetown and has made the Hoyas look smart for taking an early verbal from a guy that not many people knew about. Thanks to his silky jumper and refined post moves he’s playing his way into the national top 50. …

We’ll catch more of Derrick Rose later on this week but it wasn’t his night on Wednesday. He looked a little tentative on an ankle that has given him trouble for the last six months and was taken to school at times by future UNC Tar Heel Tywon Lawson. … A 2008 kid making noise was 6-9 BF Samardo Samuels from Laurelton (NY) Our Savior New American. Already weighing 239 pounds with a pretty cut up frame, the young forward devoured offensive rebounds and looked very comfortable against older and wiser players.

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