From a west coast perspective, it was a day when youngsters stood out.
The best of the west at the camp on Thursday were mostly rising juniors or sophomores, which bodes well for the future talent level in the west.
Perhaps having the best day among west coast players, and probably being among the five most productive at the camp overall, was Luke Babbitt, the 6-7 rising junior forward from Reno (Nev.) Galena. In his afternoon game, Babbitt quickly set the pace by coming out and knocking down two threes and scoring in transition, putting up 10 points in about five minutes of play. He's a tough match-up, drawing defenders out to guard him beyond the three-point line, but then being able to take players off the dribble with a nice pull-up game and a great left going to the basket. In the evening session, he outplayed the athletic but less skilled Matt Simpkins, the 6-8 post from Sacramento (Calif.) Capital Christian, who has been getting a great deal of hype lately. Babbitt also showed a great instinct around the basket, getting a lot of garbage points off of good positional rebounding. He's not explosive off the floor, but crafty, and in this environment, where athletes tend to play out of control, he's flourished. Here's the recruiting update we published on Babbitt just yesterday from the camp.
Omondi Amoke, the 6-5 rising senior small forward from Oxnard (Calif.) High, who is committed to California, had generally two good performances on Thursday. Amoke has really improved himself physically, leaning down a body that looked like it could be getting too thick there for a while. It helped him with his activeness and stamina yesterday. He worked hard for rebounds and putbacks and was slashing to the basket with aggressiveness, while also hitting a couple of open three-pointers. This was the best we've seen Amoke in a while.
Larry Drew, the junior point guard from Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft, by no fault of his own, suffered a bit at the hands of Shoe Camp Syndrome. It's an affliction where your teammates won't give you the ball. And it was pretty obvious that was a mistake since Drew was making it a point to set up his teammates and give it back. He did it very well in the afternoon session, until his teammates jacked up threes without letting him touch it. He's continued to improve his quickness on the ball, and at times looked spectacular taking defenders off the dribble here. He can get wound up a bit and slightly out of control, especially in such an out-of-control environment, but he clearly was one of the best point guards, on sheer talent, at the camp. So far, when he actually gets the ball in his hands, there hasn't been a defender able to stay with him.
Jerime Anderson, the 6-1 junior point guard from Anaheim (Calif.) Canyon, had a little better situation with his teammates. They actually realized very early on in the first session that Anderson is going to set you up and get you good looks, so his teammates were making sure they got him the ball. And he didn't disappoint. He had more assists, and what-should-have-been assists of anyone I saw Thursday. He was constantly in the mode of setting up teammates, just not with the great no-looker, but with the simple, easy entry or penetration-and-kick. He shot the ball when he had an open look and made most of his jumpers.
Jrue Holiday, the 6-3 junior shooting guard from North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall, showed in both sessions that he's worthy of his national top 10 ranking for the class of 2008. Holiday dominated both games for long stretches, playing mostly on the ball, passing well and creating for his team. He had a stretch where he hit four outside shots in a row with a quick spot-up. It's funny, since Holiday is playing the point for his team here, mostly because the team didn't have a true point, many of the national scouts who haven't seen Holiday much are calling him a point guard. For those of us who are very familiar with him, we know that he can handle and distribute the ball, and play the point for you, but his scoring mentality is so much more geared for the scoring guard position. And that's where you'd want to take advantage of him. That versatility is one of the things that makes Holiday so good. In the afternoon game, with his team playing about even with its opponent, Holiday took over the game in the last few minutes, making shots and passes for easy scores for his teammates. It was one of the best few minutes played by any player at the camp on Thursday. Holiday told Scout.com's Dave Telep that, while he's still open, he likes UCLA and Arizona right now.
Jerry Brown, the 6-6 rising sophomore from San Franciso (Calif.) Sacred Heart Prep, has shown here that he's worthy of the early hype. Brown has a very good body, one that might almost be too developed for his age. While he doesn't necessarily have great skills just yet, with just an okay handle and shot, he does know how to play, passing the ball very well for a youngster, while playing his butt off, often times getting opportunities through hustle.
Rome Draper, the 6-4 rising sophomore guard from Etiwanda (Calif.) High, is another young west coaster who looked exceptional Thursday. If you had to make a body for a rising sophomore shooting guard, Draper's would be it, with a good frame, long arms, with some good muscle but with room for more. His skills, at this point, are promising, with a good-looking shot and fairly good handle. And, like Brown, Draper has a good feel for such a young player.
One more day at the Adidas Camp, and then Saturday it's on to New Jersey and the Reebok ABCD Camp...