NBAPA Scout's Seat: Friday Night Lights

Last season it was Gerald Henderson busting on the national scene and catching Duke's interest at the NBA Player Association Camp in Richmond. A year later we sent our roaming reporter to the sidelines looking for the next kid to make a big splash.

The following players stepped up their game early on in the event, and have appeared on the Duke recruiting board in some capacity.

Lance Thomas - Some have said with Duke turning up the heat on the now college bound Brandan Wright that Lance has fallen to the "1a" category on the preference list. That's probably not 100% true, but on this night the 6-foot-7 power forward was noticeably trying to force the "PF" out of his game and make a living as an oversized "SF".

Make no mistake, Lance Thomas is a terrific competitor and will battle at every opportunity. However he's been consumed with drifting to the perimeter and hasn't put forth a tremendous defensive effort. To make matters worse for the New Jersey prospect, he got frustrated and began to follow teammate Darrell Arthur's lead and having a bit of a chip on his shoulder, and having a quick temper with the referees.

Chalk it up to a bad day.

Julian Vaughn - This kid has all the makings of a very special player. It's hard to find a good comparison for Julian when thinking of past Blue Devils, and perhaps that falls between a hybrid of a poor man's Luol Deng and a better version of former Wake Forest big forward Rodney Rogers. He's a big kid who will camp out in the post and throw his body around to win loose balls and rebounds to go with a good number of put-backs and garbage buckets. What's more – Vaughn actually plays solid defense in the paint.

The Luol Deng part of the comparison comes in with his body makeup. Vaughn, like Deng, has extremely long arms to go with quick feet, and a feel sense of the game. As far as prototypical big forwards go in the Duke sense of the word (Deng, Battier, McLeod, etc), Vaughn certainly fits and passes the look test. Bottom line he's a throwback to just playing the game in a very fundamentally sound way.

Gerald Henderson - The recently committed Blue Devil small forward came away leaving a favorable impression on Friday. He certainly needs to put some time in the gym working on his jumper, but aside from that Henderson just plays with a confidence and swagger that has been missing at the wing position for a while at Duke.

Henderson is very strong and lean, think DeMarcus Nelson type definition on his muscles, only not as big as the rising sophomore. Gerald plays very aggressive on both ends of the floor and turns it up a notch on the defensive end of the court, which at an event like NBAPA, helps you stand out that much more.

On this night he had several steals off playing the passing lanes, and had no problem going down into the post and helping out with the rebounding. Perhaps one of his biggest strengths is the cool, assured manner in which he takes the court. In short this kid goes out there and plays like he knows he belongs on the court with the nation's best.

During his game, his father, Gerald Henderson Sr, was sitting nearby, talking with Tim McCormick, the head honcho for this camp. Senior was mentioning that Gerald was having difficulty with learning a particular facet of post up offense and would like to work on it after his game. It's that kind of determination and desire to learn that's going to make this kid a special player in the royal and white.

Eric Gordon - With Duke still feeling this one out in terms of availability, we figured we'd scout Gordon as well. After Friday our scouting team came away very impressed.

Gordon plays with a real aggressive streak to him – several times he was challenged by his man on the defensive side of the ball. Gordon would then get the ball on the next possession and quickly take it to him on the offensive side of the ball.

Like Gerald Henderson, Eric plays the passing lanes very well and he showed himself to be VERY comfortable handling the ball, he's also pretty aggressive on the boards. I didn't see too much of his shot, primarily because he was so concerned with getting his teammates involved.

Stanley Robinson - This was our first in person look at Robinson, and we came away as believers. Robinson was the complete opposite of some of the other players in the gym in terms of effort and willingness to battle. The big man routinely went into the paint to bang and aggressively rebound, only to do the same on the offensive side of the ball while also showing a smooth perimeter jumper.

Think a slightly lesser version of Brandan Wright when looking for a comparison of Robinson. He's a bit smaller, but is extremely athletic and he can play inside out, which is a hallmark of a Duke big forwards.

Alex Stepheson - Maybe it was another bad night, but Stepheson didn't impress, as he didn't the last few times we've seen him. Alex got a couple of easy put-backs through dunks off of offensive rebounds or easy dump-offs, but when it came time to really work on the defensive end he wasn't interested. He was clearly bothered on both times we saw him today going against bigger, athletic big men(especially the one of the Lopez twins). You just get the feeling when you watch him play that he's just waiting to have the game catered to him, which, for a big man, is alarming.

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