Top talents descend on Tucson

The Lute Olson Advance Skills Camp tipped off Thursday night and it was quickly apparent that there was some big time talent on the court. In addition to the high school players in town to learn from Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson, there were also some great former players on hand.

The camp started out with Tom Tolbert giving the players a little pep talk. Along with Tolbert, Arizona standouts Jason Gardner, Salim Stoudamire, Damon Stoudamire, Andre Iguodala, Corey Williams and Joe McLean stopped by to check out the action on the floor. Matt Muehlebach and Harvey Williams watched from the stands.

After a thorough warm-up and stretch the instruction began. The players started out with a variety of ball handling drills and then got an Olson lesson in how the Wildcats run the fast break. Next it was time for some serious instruction on defense. The first night ended with some spirited pick-up play.

Here are my initial evaluations after the first night.

Jamelle Horne The future Wildcat was the best player participating in the camp. Although his outside shot was inconsistent, he showed great athleticism and leaping ability. He was outstanding in fast break drills and quickly built a report with incoming freshman Nic Wise. Seeing Horne next to Iguodala it is easy to see that the senior-to-be could easily develop a pro body. He's got the height, length and is already on his way to having the muscle needed to play against the big boys.

Luke Babbitt The power forward just moves so well. He gets up and down the floor very well and has an amazing stroke for a player that can also bang in the post. His touch is good inside, outside and in between. Maybe the only negative on the night was that Babbitt was not getting the calls in the 5-on-5 play. Maybe he can get the Dwyane Wade treatment on Friday and have a few calls go his way.

Zane Johnson Johnson played well for the most part. His jumper was on and he passed very well. He showed he could score in other ways, but did have a few shots blocked when attacking the hoop. The Phoenix product got up and down the floor pretty well and made good decisions. A good start to the weekend for the wing looking for an offer.

Alex Jacobson Jacobson had a good showing. The seven footer clearly works better in a structured team setting than he does in the more free wheeling AAU circuit. Jacobson is still a work in progress, but used the glass very well and seemed to pick up the concepts pretty quickly.

Nic Wise Wise loves to pass. He threw safe passes, lob passes, no-look passes and behind the back passes. He seems to love to get teammates involved and will quickly make friends with his new Wildcat teammates. That is not to say that he cannot score. He only took a few shots but knocked down a few threes. He was as quick as anyone in the camp and can really lead the break.

Jordan Hill Hill has a lot of work to do, but has refined his game quite a bit. He showed off some nifty moves down low and can really get up and down the floor. He isn't as explosive as you would like, missing on a few dunks, but he rebounded well and was aggressive on defense. Hill was a pleasant surprise tonight.

Andy Poling The Oregon product is amazingly long. He desperately needs to add strength but moves well and has some nice post moves. It is easy to see why he is a top candidate to be an elite 2008 big man.

Laval Lucas-Perry The Michigan product had a nice first night. He showed off a good stroke and a nice feel for the game. He works hard on both ends. Maybe the only knock on him was that he was playing alongside Iguodala for much of the night, so we may not have seen the full extent of his game.

Kamyron Brown It was an odd night for Brown. The Mater Dei product did nothing wrong, but at the same time did not really stand out. He has great quickness and a solid feel of the game, but at the same time never made a huge impact during the scrimmage games. He appeared very coachable, and like most Mater Dei players, has great fundamentals.

Jeremy Tyler This kid has yet to play a high school game. In fact he has yet to attend high school. The power forward just finished eighth grade. He was a standout at the Nike Hoop Jamboree and held his own against the talented big men at the camp. He's tall, athletic and showed off a sweet jump hook.

Xavier Thames Thames, a 6-2 guard from Sacramento showed that he is a player to keep an eye on. Good quickness and a willingness to work make this 2009 prospect on to watch.

Elston Turner Turner has good bloodlines. He's the son of Sacramento assistant Elston Turner Sr. The 6-4 guard has a solid game and a good basketball build. A 2008 product who could develop.

Carl Blair Blair is a Houston Hoops product who has been competing with their 15 & Under team. Another player who has an interesting future, he was holding his own against older players. Chase Budinger and Jeff Withey are expected to compete on Friday. A few other players may join the camp. Artesia High standout James Harden was expected to be at the camp but cancelled early Thursday afternoon.

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