One big problem, though, when it comes to evaluating the players, is the format of camp basketball. The players are assigned a team to play with for the weekend, but there is no actual coaching and no structure whatsoever. So the games basically end up being up-and-down, with very little passing, and it becomes a contest of who can get their own shot off the dribble. Obviously, you can still look at physical attributes, what kind of a stroke a kid has, etc., but it has very little to do with real basketball.
Keeping that in mind, here's a look at some of the guys we noticed this past weekend.
Artem Wallace, 6-8 JR C/PF Toledo (Wash.) High. Wallace did not show well in April, due mainly to the fact that he added weight during the previous nine months. Wallace showed up for this camp toned up -- about twenty pounds lighter -- and it made a dramatic difference in his game. He's regained the explosiveness/mobility that he had last July and he's much more effective scoring inside. He also showed a nice feel for the game, playing unselfishly and finding teammates. Also, the wide-open nature of camp ball actually benefited Wallace, as he was able to step out to the perimeter and show a nice-looking stroke.
Danny Williams, 6-2 JR SG Los Angeles (Calif.) Fremont. Perhaps the best athlete in the west for 2005, Williams showed an improved jump shot and ball-handling skills. He's still learning how to play the game, but the tools are there for an elite, high major guard. If Williams continues to improve his skills, he will likely be recruited on a national level.
Dior Lowhorn, 6-5 JR PF Berkeley (Calif.) High. Although somewhat undersized at the four, Lowhorn makes up for his lack of height with explosive leaping ability, a strong body and very good energy/intensity. His outside shot is not yet consistent, but it's good enough that he'll keep defenses honest. Should get some looks at the high major level.
Jeffrey Pendergraph, 6-8 JR C Etiwanda (Calif.) High. Pendergraph has good size and length, moves well, and plays hard. His offensive game is still coming, but we like him right now as a defender/rebounder and he has an upside. High major potential.
Jonathan Gibson, 5-11 JR PG West Covina (Calif.) High. Gibson has some very intriguing tools, but needs to learn how to play point guard. He's very quick, with a nice handle and good stroke, but doesn't always make great decisions. With some polishing, a potential mid or high major prospect.
Joe Darger, 6-6 JR SF Riverton (Utah) High. Bad camp ball is not a place where Darger is going to shine – he's much more effective in a real game – but we thought he still showed pretty well in this event. Good feel, unselfish, will defend, very nice stroke – he was one of the more impressive wings in the camp. A nice prospect at the lower end of the high major spectrum.
Diamon Simpson, 6-6 JR PF Hayward (Calif.) High. Simpson has good size and length, moves very well and is extremely active. Very good rebounder and a fairly good defender. Offensive skills are still coming, but a good mid major prospect.
Malcolm Lee, 5-11 PG Riverside (Calif.) North – 8th grade. Lee will be a freshman at North next year. Good-looking young prospect who didn't back down against bigger, older competition. Pretty skilled, with decent quicks.
Chris Jones, 6-2 SG Newark (Calif.) Newark Memorial – 8th grade. Another youngster who impressed with his poise and confidence. Great body, good athlete – could be one to watch in a couple years.