INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – If I had perused the roster for the Nike All-America Camp very closely before I started watching the event's games Thursday afternoon, and been asked to forecast who I believed would be considered the best half-dozen players in the camp by the time it wrapped up Saturday night, I would probably have chosen thusly, in alphabetical order:
And, after the camp's final 2½ days worth of action, that hypothetical list would have held up pretty well.
Only Singler would have been missing from that list and that's because the 6-foot-8 junior-to-be from South Medford High in Medford, Ore., suffered a torn meniscus in Wednesday night workouts and missed the final three days of play.
Taking his place in that Dandy Half-Dozen, post-camp list is another member of the Class of 2007, 6-3 guard Derrick Rose (Chicago, Ill, Simeon).
Rose wasn't the best 11th grade guard in the camp – that honor clearly belonged to the 6-3 Bayless (Phoenix, Ariz., Saint Mary's), despite his less-than-sparkling performance in one of the two all-star games that were played Saturday night at IUPUI.
But, with a few exceptions (the play of Durant, Hawes, Lawson, Vernon Macklin and Raymar Morgan, most notably), the less said about those two "all-star" games the better. They quickly deteriorated into over-handling, jack-up-bad-shots and don't-guard affairs.
One of the games' coaches or a camp administrator should have called a halt to the proceedings and the players should have been reminded – gently or otherwise – that the camp had featured some marvelous basketball all week and that the half-hearted efforts to play hard and unselfishly wouldn't be tolerated.
Oh well. Let me climb off that soap box and get back to unveiling my choices for the 30 best players in the camp . . .
Bayless was clearly the best and most consistent performer in the camp (prior to the all-star games, that is) and is the choice here for Most Outstanding Player honors.
Durant is No. 2 on our list but only because he played just Friday night and Saturday while fulfilling summer school obligations the rest of the week.
I don't think I'm going to find enough candidates in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks to keep Durant (Rockville, Md., Montrose Christian), Hawes (Seattle, Wash., Seattle Prep), Wright (Brentwood, Tenn., Brentwood Academy) and Lawson (Mouth of Wilson, Va., Oak Hill Academy) off my national Class of 2006 Top 10 list.
And I can only wish that my long-term financial future was as secure as are the chances that Bayless and Rose will be in my Class of 2007 Top 10.
So, without further adieu (other than to say congratulations to camp director Sherman Dillard and his most capable staff for doing a marvelous job on all aspects of the camp), here's a look at the Nike All-America Camp Top 30 – at least as it looks to be from my perspective:
Class of 2006
*Kevin Durant (6-9, Rockville, Md., Montrose Christian). University of Texas Coach Rick Barnes can only thank David Stern and the NBA's ban of fresh-out-of-high school talent for helping to get this Durant into a Longhorns' uniform, even if it's just for a single season. Offensively, there isn't much he can't do with the ball in his hands.
*Spencer Hawes (6-11, Seattle, Wash., Seattle Prep). For the second year in a row the best senior prospect in the western United States is going to be a student at Seattle Prep. Or have you already forgotten where Martell Webster graduated from high school last month?
*Brandan Wright (6-10, Brentwood, Tenn., Brentwood Academy). He's not nearly the polished offensive player that either Durant or Hawes is right now. But, other than Greg Oden, he's the best rebounding and shot-blocking member of the Class of 2006.
*Tywon Lawson (5-11, Mouth of Wilson, Va., Oak Hill Academy). He's oh-so-quick-and-fast and nearly impossible to check, 1-on-1, despite possessing an average, at best, jump shot. Come to think of it, that sounds like a pretty good description of Raymond Felton before he checked into the University of North Carolina.
*Sherron Collins (5-10, Chicago, Ill., Crane Tech). He's every bit as quick and fast as Lawson but didn't do quite as effective a job as did Lawson when the pace slowed down a bit.
*Duke Crews (6-7, Hampton, Va., Bethel). He was the most aggressive rebounder in the camp and finished in traffic as well as anyone in the camp not named Durant, Hawes or Wright.
*Marcus Johnson (6-2, Cleveland, Ohio, St. Vincent St. Mary). He seemed to get better every time I checked him out, either in full-court or 3-on-3 action. Do you remember that other pretty good player out of St. Vincent St. Mary recently? Here's a hint: his last name is James.
*Raymar Morgan (6-8, Canton, Ohio, McKinley). Tom Izzo of Michigan State was the most high profile coach in attendance Saturday night for the all-star games and I've a hunch that this guy is the biggest reason why.
*Jason Bohannon (6-3, Marion, Ia., Linn-Mar). Here's a player I was rather naïve about before the camp. The Iowa schools have to be a bit more than just mildly distressed about his leaving the state to become a University of Wisconsin Badger in 2006-07.
*Obi Muonelo (6-4, Edmond, Okl., Emond Santa Fe). He forced the action (translated: he was hunting a few too many shots) Friday and Saturday but it's easy to understand why Oklahoma and assorted other hoops powers are in pursuit.
*Michael Washington (6-9, Houston, Texas, Heritage Christian). It's been more than a day and a half but the right-to-left crossover and then resounding dunk over Spencer Hawes by the future University of Arkansas player still resonates.
*Edgar Sosa (6-2, New York City Rice). If he were in a Louisville uniform in 2005-06 instead of the following season I'd have a pretty good idea who Rick Pitino's next playmaker is going to be.
*Ramar Smith (6-2, Detroit, Mich., Renaissance). He's much more a "scorer" than a "shooter" right now, or so it appeared. He doesn't have much difficulty beating defenders off the dribble or to the glass, though.
*Patrick Christopher (6-4, Compton, Calif., Dominguez). He wasn't a high volume jump shooter in the camp but he sure was a high-volume jump shot-maker. The Mayfair (Lakewood, Calif.) transfer will team with Super Soph Brandon Jennings to form one of the nation's best prep backcourts next season.
*L.D. Williams (6-4, Montverde, Fla., Montverde Academy). He's committed to Wake Forest and it didn't take long to realize why Skip Prosser and his staff probably wanted to get that one out of the way, ASAP. He was one of the camp's most-underrated performers.
*Landon Milbourne (6-5, Alpharetta, Ga., St. Francis). You can call him a "big guard" or "small forward" but the slender lefty is going to get some "big" minutes for Maryland, maybe as soon as during his 2006-07 freshman season.
*Jon Kreft (7-0, Parkland, Fla., Stoneman Douglas). Florida State got a commitment from this sturdy center prospect more than a year ago. He's not an overwhelming shot blocker but he's a dependable rebounder and knows more than just a thing or two about offensive play in the low post., as well.
*DeShawn Sims (6-7, Detroit, Mich., Martin Luther King). He's strong (about 230 pounds) and possesses enough touch and range on his jump shot to punish defenders who give him too much leeway on the perimeter.
Brian Carlwell (6-11, Maywood, Ill., Proviso East). The big (261 pounds) lefty is lacking in low-post polish but could be pushing for All-Big Ten honors at Illinois by his sophomore season.
*Jon Scheyer (6-4, Northbrook, Ill., Glenbrook North). He still needs to work on driving past defenders who close out hard on his jump shot. But he appeared a lot more comfortable than he did in San Diego at the USA Basketball Youth Festival last month. Knocking in shots will do that for you, I suppose.
*Vernon Macklin (6-8, Portsmouth, Va., I.C. Norcom). He doesn't have a multitude of ways to score but you'd better box him out and not let him catch the ball within six feet of the rim or he'll dunk over you.
*Jerome Dyson (6-3, Rockville, Md., Proctor Academy). He can shoot it deep or get to the rim and dunk it, which are a couple of pretty good offensive skills to have in one's arsenal.
Class of 2007
*Jerryd Bayless (6-3, Phoenix, Ariz., Saint Mary's). He couldn't find his jump shot and didn't pass the ball as willingly in his all-star game as he did the rest of the week. But the talent gap between he and O.J. Mayo isn't as wide as most probably assume it is.
*Derrick Rose (6-3, Chicago, Ill., Simeon). This was my first chance to watch him play. My thought: He is definitely worthy of all of the hyperbole.
*Mike Holmes (6-7, Bishopville, S.C., Lower Richland). Here's another guy I had never heard of prior to getting into Indianapolis on Thursday afternoon. Be it inside the lane or 15 or 16 feet from the rim, he got a lot of stuff accomplished every time I watched.
*Gary Johnson (6-6, Houston, Texas, Aldine). Right now he's more undersized power forward than anything else. But that's not a criticism at all because there wasn't a more efficient scorer inside the lane (well, other than Hawes, Wright or Durant, that is).
*Durrell Summers (6-4, Detroit St. Martin de Porres). Lock him onto your list of the five best shooting guards in the national junior class right now.
*Chace Stanback (6-6, Los Angeles, Calif., Fairfax). How did this guy not get selected to be among the 48 players to participate in the all-star games?
*Ganai Lawal (6-7, Riverdale, Ga., Riverdale). Here's another junior who deserved to be an all-star selection. He was the Most Outstanding Prospect at the Pangos All-America Camp in Cypress, Calif., last month.
Class of 2008
*Tyreke Evans (6-4, Chester, Pa., American Christian). It's getting late so I'll settle for an apt one-word description: scorer.
Frank Burlison, elected to the USBWA Hall of Fame in April, is Scout.com's National Basketball Expert and also covers basketball for the Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at email@example.com. Read more of Burlison's pieces at www.frankhoops.com