"You've got to go after rebounds," Ariza said. "It seems like the guards don't like to give up the ball. It's just that they shoot it all the time. The guards always have the advantage in something like this."
But not always.
The 6-8 SF from Los Angeles (CA) Westchester scored 16 points on 8-for-10 shooting Monday afternoon against Charlie Villanueva and the Pacers. He also added four assists, three rebounds and two steals in an active and aggressive all-around performance.
On Monday night, against Mississippi State commitment Travis Outlaw and the Sonics, he ended up with eight points and seven rebounds in a game that was much more impressive than his stats suggested.
His jumper was still iffy – as always – but Ariza flourished in the up-and-down environment here at ABCD. He did what too many didn't on the camp's opening day: He took charge and boosted his stock.
Said Ariza: "I like running up and down."
Which is what he'd like to do in college. Ariza has Florida, Maryland, UCLA, USC and Indiana near the top of a list that's still open.
"Those are just schools I'm interested in," he said. "I'll probably make a decision before my senior season."
Regis Koundjia, SF: A missed dunk made everyone gasp. But he was productive throughout Monday at Fairleigh Dickinson's Rothman Center. The 6-8 SF from Laurinburg (NC) Institute – a native of the Central African Republic – was dazzling in his athleticism and consistent in his output. He had 15 points and eight rebounds in the afternoon and 15 points and seven rebounds in the evening.
Aaron Brooks, PG: The Seattle (WA) Franklin point guard went for nine points, three rebound and two assists in the afternoon and 13 points and two assists in the evening. But forget stats. Forget numbers. Brooks just knows how to play his position – he's a pure point who pushes the ball, dictates tempo and makes his teammates better.
Earl Smith, Jr., SF: The Lakewood (NJ) High got off to a jackrabbit-fast start to his ABCD, making eight of his nine shots in his team's afternoon game, finishing with 21 points. He pumped in 13 more in his evening effort. He's a smooth scorer who's coming off a big-time performance in late June at the BET Pro-Am in Washington.
Dwight Howard, PF: The 6-10 big man from East Point (GA) Southwest Atlanta Christian showed some skill around the basket and a relentless desire for rebounds and putbacks. He averaged 10 points a game – tops at ABCD so far – and ended the first day tied with Koundjia for the camp's highest player rating (37.5). Who knows what that really means? But it's got to mean something good, right?
Marvin Williams, Jr., SF: He entered play Monday afternoon pretty much anonymous – but that didn't last for very long. The versatile 6-7 talent from Bremerton (WA) High hit medium-range jumpers, showed off tight ball-handling ability and ran the floor – what he was, was one of the more active and effective players in the whole darn camp on Monday.
LaMarcus Aldridge, C/BF: He's young, he's long, and, yes, he's good. The heralded 6-10 Texan scored only nine points – and, even worse, grabbed zero rebounds – in the afternoon session. But he more than made up for that with a super 18 points and eight boards in his second game of the day.
Surprise! The Kendrick Perkins-Jackie Butler matchup late Monday night was a dud. It wasn't even that both canceled each other out with anything close to solid play. Says here both of them better go somewhere other than the draft next year – college, NBDL, something. … Peoria, Ill., sophomore point man Shaun Livingston left Monday night's game with a sprained ankle. It didn't look too serious: He left under his own power. … Note to Sebastian Telfair: The best thing about your game is passing. Now show it. Thank you much. … Brewster-bound prepster David Gale – a SoCal point – finished the day second in the camp in assists (4.0 per game) and second in steals (3.0). …
D.C. area PF/SF Omari Israel had a terrific 20-point, 12-rebound outing in the evening session. … Rising sophomore Andre McGee – a 5-10, 155-pound point guard from Moreno Valley, Calif. – was awesome. He scored 22 in Monday's nightcap. … Oradell (NJ) Bergen Catholic scoring SF Sean Banks had 21 in his evening outing. … Telfair on Georgia-bound San Diego PF/SF Mohamed Abukar: "He's going to play in the NBA."
Michael Kruse writes for Basketball America and BasketballAmerica.com.