First Look An Impressive One
The Nike Hoop Jamboree was our first look at a number of guys, some who have serious reputations like OJ Mayo (2007). The rising 8th grade guard, who plays varsity basketball, delivered the goods. To look at him and watch him play one would think he's at least a junior. Mayo is a gifted passer, scorer and has a high IQ for the game ... already.
Speaking of high IQs, the best pure point guard at the camp was Louisiana rising freshman Demond Carter (2006), the MVP of the state basketball championships as a freshman. Best described as Omar Cook with a jumpshot, Carter is a special player.
Richard Hendrix (2005), a rising sophomore from Athens, Ala., was terrific. If he wasn't the top post prospect in camp, then he was the second best. Keith Brumbaugh (2005), a sophomore out of Deland, Fla., was pretty tough. A power forward with face-up skills, Brumbaugh was great all week long.
Mr. Energy, Marquise Gray (2004), a power forward from Flint, reminded me of Donnell Harvey. The long-armed, lived-bodied lefty rebounded and dunked with great ease. The charismatic rising junior is a better prospect right now than we thought he was coming off a fine performance at Spiece.
Speaking of Michigan kids, small forward Ronald Coleman (2004) ranks as one of the best at his position in his class. No one was as consistently good as Coleman during the week. His jumper was s-m-o-k-i-n all week long. He might have led the camp in scoring. The Wolverines are onto something here.
Another Michigan product, perimeter scorer Malik Hairston (2004), looked a whole lot like a younger version of Carmelo Anthony. While there's no telling if Hairston can progress that far, he does possess the same sort of skill set – in a smaller body – than Anthony did at the same stage.
Memphian Shawne Williams (2004) surprised us with his perimeter skills. Previously, we viewed Williams as a super athlete with limited range. Well, after watching him drain jumper after jumper, we've revised our initial opinion.
In the shooting guard category, Jason Rich (2004) was the pacesetter. The ultra-athletic Rich was consistently the best two guard we watched at camp. He was followed closely by Richmond's own Tyree Evans (2004) and Minnesotan Steve Neal (2004). Evans had one of the best strokes we saw all week. Neal was Mr. Versatility and a fine athlete in his own right.
Houston center Joseph Jones (2004) was injured but still managed to have a good (not great) week. North Carolina small forward Matt Salley (2004) had it rolling until a calf injury derailed his train on Saturday.
He might not be from the Big Apple, but Greg Paulus (2005) ranks as one of the top rising sophs in New York. He's a super finisher with range and savvy. Paulus will also be a four-year varsity football starter when his career as a quarterback ends in a few years.
Representing Mississippi well was small forward Robert Clark (2004) and combo forward Charles Thomas (2004).
Surprised wouldn't even begin to explain the look on this analyst's face upon learning 7-1 Jason Bennett (2006) was heading into the 9th grade. He's not there yet as a prospect, but he will be one day.
Random Thoughts: We loved the athleticism of SF Corey Brewer (2004) and the skill package of PF Josh McRoberts (2004). … DeAaron Williams posted solid numbers all week long. Ollie Bailey is a tough customer. … Center James Gist (2004) had some shining moments as a shot blocker and rebounder. … Anthony Morrow (2004), a small forward, can really score. … Really liked 2005 big man Amir Johnson and his potential. … Portland swingman LaTravis Turner, a 2005 kid, can really score. … Cliff Hammonds, a combo guard fom 2004 with a super stroke, had his moments. … Darnell Jackson, a 2004 power forward, is a physical specimen. … Angel Santiago will be a 2004 point guard you'll hear a lot about. …
Really, there were plenty of others worthy of mentioning but you'll hear all about them as the season progresses!