Big Time Camp Update and Notes

LAS VEGAS--Omar Wilkes makes a late arrival, DeMarcus Nelson tries to regain his status among the nation's elite while trying to overcome a family tragedy at the same time and notes on Chris Taft, Brandon Bell and injuries to two of Arizona's top two prospects.

Class of 2003 guard Omar Wilkes (6-4, 175) didn't arrive to join the rest of his Pump ‘n Run (CA) team until just before the start of their one and only game of the day yesterday. It seems Wilkes had to appear in traffic court after spending the previous two days (and 12 total hours) at driving school to make up for a ticket he got making an illegal U-turn near his southern California home.

"I'm really tired," he said, after finishing the game with 10 points, three boards, three assists and three steals. "I didn't play my best game but our team did really well.

"I had to go to court this morning because I got a ticket the other night. I didn't see any cars around so I just made the U-turn, but (the cops) got me. I was trying to get to Baskin-Robbins."

Wilkes, son of former UCLA legend Jamaal "Silk" Wilkes, has a game very similar to his father's. Omar is ultra smooth but tremendously explosive athletically at the same time. Watching his pre-game leaping display was very impressive. He still lists Kansas, Stanford and Cal (among others) as his favorites for where to play in college. The David Padgett-Wilkes combo package possibility is still very much alive as well.

"David's in Venezuela right now," Wilkes said of his best friend, who recently was named to the Junior Olympic team. "It's still the same schools for both of us. I can't wait to get it over with so I can just be a normal kid during the summer. I'd like to be at home chilling with some girls or hanging out with friends but I still love coming to camps like this."

*DeMarcus Nelson (6-4, 190 PG from the class of 2004) of the EBO/EA Sports All-Stars, is in Las Vegas despite a tragic situation in the Nelson family. This past Friday, his older brother, Darnell, was shot four times on the way to church by some gang members. He was hit below the heart, in the back, in the leg and in the pelvis. Luckily, he is doing fine and was even up and walking the other night.

"We're just getting really tired of all this traveling," said Marky's dad, Ron. "We had a family emergency this last weekend and the only reason we're here is because my oldest son is okay."

Marky is joined by Ron and his youngest brother, Darius, on this trip. Ron was upset about an article that appeared on by Mark Mauryema that pretty much referred to DeMarcus as a non-prospect. The article asked, "why would Duke accept a verbal commitment from (Nelson)?" The writer then added that DeMarcus played scared at the ABCD camp, especially against Sebastian Telfair.

Most experts on hand in New Jersey, including Cattracks correspondent Aaron Jones, thought Nelson was the best two guard from the class of 2004 at the entire camp. Almost to a man, people said that DeMarcus played "very well" in Jersey and was one of the more impressive prospects at the camp.

"I'm not worried about that at all," Marky said. "It's just one guy's opinion. I'll get to go up against (Telfair) during the school year on January 4th down at (Long Beach) Poly. (The writer) said I was scared because I played off of him on defense. Why would I guard a guy close when he shoots 5-20 or something?"

Nelson had a very productive first day in Las Vegas, averaging 23 points and nine rebounds in his two games.

*Other notes: Chris Taft (6-10 Sr. C from New York) is still considering North Carolina, Pitt, Arizona, Maryland, UConn and others at this point. He said he will definitely make visits to North Carolina and Maryland in the fall but still hasn't decided on the final three stops. Distance will not be a factor in his decision…Brandon Bell (5-11 Sr. PG from Flint, MI) dispelled the rumor that he had committed to Marquette. "They are still one of my leaders and I really like them, but that rumor isn't true." Pitt is coming on the strongest lately, especially since his stellar performance at Nike a couple of weeks ago. Also in the mix for Bell, a wonderful all-around player and younger brother of former Michigan State star Charlie Bell, are Florida State, Miami and Butler…Count me among the disappointed spectators when Mustafa Shakur (hip pointer) and Brian Butch (back spasms) went down with injuries early in their first games of the tournament. After hearing so much about these two top ten prospects from the 2003 class (and two of Arizona's main targets), I was very excited to finally get to see them in person instead of on film. Shakur played for about five minutes and looked good. He was noticeably limping but did manage to connect on his first shot, a lovely crossover to create space for a wide open three-pointer from the top of the key. He is expected to play today; Butch likely will not play the rest of this tournament.

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