NBAPA Odds and Ends

Over the weekend our roaming reporter spent time scouting a number of high major players. While most Blue Devil fans know of the class of 2006 and beyond, TDD's Steve Clark also checked out some of the younger stars in attendance before watching a marquee match-up in the afternoon.

Class of 2008 Stars

Jerel Stephenson While observing this talented Georgia prospect we had the chance to sit down with his mother and chat about recruiting and Stephenson as a player and more. Depsite being such a high major talent, it would seem Jerel is going to keep a very grounded perspective throughout this process.

Playing at about 6'2 and a solid 180 pounds, this combo guard out of Augusta, GA really impressed onlookers this week with his swagger and refusal to be intimidated; despite facing off against the best players in the two classes above him.

He still has to learn not to blend in so much, but you can definitely see the high major skills are there. Stephenson just needs to play against the big boys to get comfortable for long periods of time. Be on the lookout for this kid as he gets older, once he plugs into a more established AAU program(they are already calling) and hits some more events, this kid is going to get noticed.

Though it's early on, Stephensen's mom offer than her son is a "huge Duke fan" and was "walking on air" when he had a chance to meet Jason Williams at the camp. He's also sporting the Duke emblem on his cell phone.

Michael Beasley Scout's Dave Telep spotted him on Wednesday, and though this was the first time seeing him, I came away as a believer. Going up against really the fastest rising member of the class of 07, Cole Aldrich, Michael played the talented junior to be to a draw. Even though Aldrich was much bigger, Beasley played with an aggressive mean streak, going straight after the bigger opponent and blocking him several times while exploiting him with superior quickness.

In case you were wondering, this isn't some slow, plodding big man who can't do anything. Quite the contrary. He's a live wire athlete, who's just as comfortable handling the ball on the perimeter and driving, as well as showing one of the sweetest drop steps I've seen in the Camp. He's a high major for sure, one to watch.

Brandon Jennings - I've seen the little guy a few times this week and I'm just blown away by the maturity level he displays. He's like the high school version of Earl Boykins, with a smooth shot, great energy, and a pure point guard. Throughout the week the speedster was content to pass to high scoring teammates such as OJ Mayo, and others.

Spotlight Match Up: Gerald Henderson vs Lance Thomas

Originally this game wasn't on the "to do" list for TDD since it would be covered repeatedly throughout the recruiting world. However, the thought of watching a future Blue Devil in action against a potential Blue Devil won out and we ran back to catch the afternoon tilt.

It proved to be worth the price of admission.

The competition was fierce as two of the top teams from this year's Camp went head to head. And, throughout the entire evening it was Henderson versus Thomas.

As much as I was not impressed by Thomas yesterday, he totally turned it around it today. It was basically a tale of two halves, with the first half being dominated by Henderson, who used his quickness and much improved shooting touch to take the advantage into halftime.

The second half was a different story as Thomas was on a mission. The 6-foot-8 forward threw down several dunks, while diving to the floor after loose balls on the opposite end of the court. He also "D'ed" up Henderson rather tightly, making it harder for the shorter Duke bound small forward to operate with any of the fluidity he possessed in the first half.

It's clear to see why Duke is interested in Thomas – when he's motivated and playing hard, he can be a match up nightmare. However when he's trying to prove he's not a big forward, he's much less worrisome to defend.

For both Thomas and Henderson there were big improvements over a day ago. Henderson found his shooting stroke, hitting pull up jumpers off the dribble and even knocking down a few longer range looks. After the game he was once again working out with Tim McCormick, trying to perfect some new post moves to the arsenal. Duke's getting a good one, he can rebound, play solid defense, he's really starting to put it together.

On Thomas' side of things, the post moves he showed today just brought me back to watching Luol Deng play at Duke, with a nice spin move and drop step, and he was going up STRONG when he went to the rack. Again it all comes down to him accepting what kind of player he will be most effective as and then building on top of that instead of trying to re-invent himself.

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