Sanchez, a 6-8, 210-pound forward who appeared on the University of Arkansas recruiting radar before he played his first high school game, is here this week for the prestigious Reebok ABCD Camp at the Rothman Center on the campus of Farleigh Dickinson University.
That's following a solid showing as one of the nation's top 120 prospects invited to the National Basketball Players Association Camp in Richmond, Va., a trip up the coast with his family and a day-long tour Sunday of New York City -- a place he had never been.
"It's pretty exciting," Sanchez said. "I've been looking forward to this time the whole summer, getting to test my skills against some of the best players out there and seeing things I've never had the chance to like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty."
Sanchez joins fellow potential UA recruits Willie Kemp and Wayne Chism, a pair of standouts from Bolivar (Tenn.) Central, at the Reebok Camp this week with a final accounting of who is all here on Wednesday morning when college coaches and the media are allowed in for the first time.
"I would hope that playing against the best players in the country will help my game keep improving," said Sanchez, who reported on Monday and went through classes on Tuesday. "That's my goal at least."
The Reebok ABCD, Nike All-America and adidas Super Star Camp all begin competition in earnest today, splitting up the nation's best talent among them.
At the NBPA Camp on June 21-27, Sanchez got to see and play against all the best players in the country and played on a team that included Kemp, Duke commit Gerald Henderson, standout Paul Harris and 7-0 Cole Alrich, the top center in the 2007 class.
"It was a great honor to be invited and it was just awesome," Sanchez said. "I learned so much from the coaches and the NBA players on hand and the competition was just great."
Sanchez got to work with NBA players such as Dwight Howard and Jason Williams, but saved the most praise for former Boston Celtics assistant coach John Carroll.
"I just can't say enough about him," Sanchez said. "He is the greatest coach I have ever been around. I learned so much from him and you just learned something every minute you were around him. He has a great basketball mind and is a great teacher. He was very respectful, but also demanded discipline. "
Sanchez, who averaged 10 points and 5 rebounds per game, had his best showings in the first minutes and final game of the event. He scored his team's first four points before being injured in the opening game and then finished up the camp with a 19-point, 10-rebound effort in a semifinal round loss.
"I thought I played pretty well most of the time, but it was hard to get a lot of things going because you only play 10 minutes a game and the games were just 20 minutes," Sanchez said. "It was a great thing to be involved with."
The only thing he would have liked to have done more is be on the floor at the same time as Kemp, who he is scheduled to room with this week at Reebok.
"We weren't playing together very much at the same time because we were on different units," Sanchez said. "But I saw again what a great player he was and hope I'm playing with him this week and we can spend the time on the court together this week."
The players will go through skill workouts this morning before coming back in the afternoon and night for games. That will be the same schedule throughout Friday with two all-star games slated for Saturday afternoon to end up the event.
Following Reebok, Sanchez will hook back up with his Arkansas Hawks AAU squad, who will try to defend its championship at the Reebok Big Time tournament in Las Vegas and then finish up the summer with a tournament in Kansas City.
DUDLEY E. DAWSON IS A STAFF WRITER FOR HAWGS ILLUSTRATED, A STEPHENS MEDIA GROUP PUBLICATION. E-MAIL: DEDSPORTS@AOL.COM
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