While there were some great players at the Nike All-America Camp in Indianapolis last week, you would have been hard-pressed to find one any better than 2008 prospect Greg Monroe.
Monroe (6-10, 226), a gifted junior-to-be at Gretna (La.) Cox High, that the University of Arkansas is recruiting, may have been the most complete player on hand when it comes to size and skill and staked his claim as the best prospect in his class.
He showed great versatility both inside and outside and handled the ball like a really big point guard - reasons he was selected to play in the Nike undergraduate all-star game.
I came to Nike last year, but last year I was like a deer in the headlights, Monroe said. It was pretty bad. I was always watching instead of doing. But this year I came out here all ready to take care of business and feel like that is what I did.
Monroe patterns his game after NBA player Kevin Garnett, his favorite player, and certainly wowed the horde of college coaches and scouts on hand.
Ive always been able to handle the basketball and I have always continued to work on it, Monroe said. Its a very easy part of the game for me and I think does a lot to help separate me from a lot of other guys that are my size. I have always been tall for my age, but always had my skills come along with height as well.
Arkansas is just one of a plethora of schools hoping to land Monroe, who averaged 17 points, 11.8 rebounds and 7 blocks shots last season for his high school squad and is likely to just play a year or two of college before heading for the NBA.
The Razorbacks have an in with Monroe with new UA assistant Glynn Cyprien, a Louisiana native.
I know about Ronnie Brewer and love the fact that they have just put somebody in the NBA, Monroe said. I also know they just hired Coach Cyprien from New Orleans and I have a great relationship with him since he used to be around AAU ball in the city a lot. Hes cool. I know a lot about their program. I have followed them a lot since they are in the SEC.
Arkansas joins LSU, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Texas, Louisville, Mississippi State and Baylor as some schools on Monroes early radar.
Theres so many of them right now and its very early for me, but I am definitely going to give Arkansas a hard look, Monroe said.
It was a school year that began with the devastation of Hurricane Rita and ended with the team getting to the quarterfinals of the state tournament.
The part of the city that I live in we were really lucky when you consider all the damage that was done, Monroe said. My house only had a hole in the roof. Most everybody came back to school, our whole team did and we picked up a couple of players as well. We had a really great season and came together.
They are rebuilding things every day and it is coming back really good, Monroe continued. Our city had made a great comeback.
Playing anywhere from the one to the five during the Nike Camp - as he does in AAU ball for the New Orleans Panthers Select - is certainly different from high school.
I play the five in high school - nothing but the post, Monroe said. Ive never really done anything but the five for my high school. I cant tell you how much fun playing all the positions in AAU ball and this camp is for me. It really gives me a chance to showcase all of my skills.
Monroe only had 3 points in the all-star game, but had 18 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks while leading his team to the camp championship in the Big 10 Division at Nike.
It felt great seeing as how we started off 0-2 and then got all the kinks worked out and didnt lose but one game from that point on, Monroe said. The main thing I care about is winning.
He will begin play Wednesday with the Panthers in the 16-and-under division of the Nike Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C.
Weve got that and then we are headed to Las Vegas to finish out the summer, Monroe said. I think Ive had a pretty good summer so far and I just want to keep it going.
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