Expect The Unexpected
Commitments Could Come Early
OK, so there wasn't exactly a big-time flurry of commitments before the shoe camps began, but there were a few who succumbed to the pressure and committed. My best guess is that some of America's youth view the national camps as a great time to grab some headlines, ala Rashaad Carruth committing to Kentucky at Nike Camp. The bottom line is that if you are a top prospect and you commit at either Nike or adidas Camp, you get to announce your commitment to the country. Therefore, I'd be willing to bet Nike and adidas yield their fare share of commitments before the week ends.
LeBron James Will Take Center Stage
If junior LeBron James is half as good as I think he is, he'll dominate a camp game on more than one occasion and makes some headlines. The opportunity for James to truly make his mark on the national stage is his for the taking. The Class of 2002 is good, but it's not like last year and James could have the same impact Amare Stoudemire enjoyed at last year's Nike Camp.
More High School To The NBA Contenders Will Pop Up
We shouldn't be too naïve in thinking about high schoolers and the NBA. As long as there isn't a rule in place come next year's draft, a handful of guys will try and make the leap. Sure, we hear about a few high schoolers contemplating the move right now, but trust me, more will be out there looking to impress a scout or two. The NBA will once again be well represented at the major camps and AAU events.
There Are Plenty Of Sleepers To Be Uncovered
Brian Morrison didn't enter adidas Camp last summer as a high-major recruit. But a few eight weeks later, the North Carolina Tar Heels came a calling. Anthony Vassar, Hakim Warrick, Elgrace Wilborn, Jonathan Loe, Terry Licorish, Wayne Simien, Duane John and Jason McCoy were a few prospects who parlayed strong July showings into big-time offers. Remember, Drew Gooden wasn't very highly recruited until a strong week at adidas Camp in 1999. After July, the number of "sleepers" on the national scene reduces greatly.
Big Men Will Be At A Premium
The fact of the matter is that with the Class of 2002, there are a few elite level big men and then there's a significant drop off. Combine that with the ever present need for size in college basketball and something has to give. What's going to happen is that School X who would never think of recruiting Player Y is going to fall in love. Will it be for the right reasons, or just because Player Y has size? Well, it'll be a little bit of both. I can guarantee that a handful of guys we've heard very little about will enter July in obscurity and leave smelling like a rose.
Count on this: sleeper big men will turn up. The best place to look for them could be in Las Vegas at some remote gym where there is few college recruiters watching a team from North Dakota take on a team from New Mexico. In that gym will be a 6-11 prospect that no one has ever seen nor heard of before. And guess what? No one will hear about him until he signs in the fall because mum is the word when it comes to July diamonds in the rough. Can you say Adrian Moss? He once played in one of those remote gyms in Las Vegas for the Houston Lynx. It took a while to find him, but someone caught on, albeit better late than never.
Young Players Will Make Impacts
It's not just center stage for LeBron James. There are plenty of talented underclassmen out their among the juniors and sophomores. They can smell blood in the form of a so-so overall Class of 2002 and they'll standout. Combine that with the fact that major college programs will scour the earth in July looking for underclassmen and the stage will be set for them to make their marks.
Seven To Watch For
SG Josh Washington, Team Texas While everyone will come to see Bracey Wright, many will leave thinking teammate Washington can play. See Keith Langford story last year.
PF James Augustine, Illinois Gold This guy is a good player. He's left-handed, can block shots and is a good inside-outside player. His time is coming.
SF Brandon Bowman, Sports Express This guy was the 6th man on his high school team. He's hungry and ready to make a name for himself and besides that, he's pretty good.
C Julius Lamptey, Athletes First He'll play alongside Shelden Williams among a host of Division I prospects. Remember what we said about size? Lamptey's pushing 7-0.
SF Richard Law, Houston SuperStars No more TJ Ford and Daniel Ewing mean plenty of PT for Law as he's the spotlight player on the Houston SuperStars.
SG Quentin Moses, Georgia Stars He's strong and has range. Many will dismiss him as merely a football star, but Moses can hoop it up as well.
SG DeAngelo Alexander, Athletes First OK, so he's hardly a sleeper. But, he is under valued. This kid is a winner who is strong, knows how to play, is brandishing a better jump shot and he's poised for a big summer. Like a volcano, he showed signs of erupting at the USA Basketball event. Did we mention that Kelenna Azubuike isn't playing with Athletes First? No problem, more shots for DeAngelo.