ABCD: Day One

TEANECK, NJ -- O.J. Mayo played like the best prospect in the country on the opening day of the Reebok ABCD Camp. Despite Mayo's excellence, it was freshman Lance Stephenson's play that drew raves. We've also got plenty of recruiting news, notes from camp, player lists, and stats.

The evening battle between O.J. Mayo and rising freshman Lance Stephenson is what ABCD is all about. The 6-foot-4 Stephenson, one of the top prospects in the Class of 2009, came out determined to earn his stripes against the nation's best player. Guess what? Stephenson did it, clearly proving he's got next.

From Brooklyn, Stephenson scored a team-high 16 points against Mayo's 76ers in a lopsided 85-58 loss. Fearless and athletic, Stephenson attacked the rim with relentless precision, didn't back down against Mayo on the defensive end, and showed range with his jump shot, hitting 2-2 three-pointers. Afterward, Mayo consoled an upset Stephenson, perhaps telling the young guard to be patient and wait his turn.

"He's real good for only being in the eighth grade," said Mayo, who scored 21 points on 9-16 shooting and also dished out 6 assists. "A lot of times, I was always the one going after people, so that was kind of the first time I felt someone was coming after me. That's the first time that's ever really happened."

Even though Stephenson's play impressed Mayo, the youngster thought he could have played better.

"I think I played good," said the 15 year-old Stephenson, who made just 4-12 free throws. "O.J.'s a good player and I think I did good against him. I just missed a lot of free throws. I just wanted to play hard and good against him."

"You haven't seen the best of me yet," added Stephenson. "I think I can play better because I was kind of frustrated, but I think I did good overall."

Remember the name, Lance Stephenson is for real.

Hot News and Notes

Rick Pitino and assistant Steve Masiello pulled duty at ABCD on Wednesday. Pitino sat between courts 2 and 3 most of the day, taking in Martez Walker's first game of the day. The only time Pitino came off the bleachers during the early session was to stand behind the basket while O.J. Mayo, Bill Walker and Keenan Ellis took the court. During the night session, Pitino made an obvious point to stand next to court two - the same court where Earl Clark, Derrick Caracter, Mayo, Walker and Ellis played.

A'Darius Pegues, a 6-9 forward from Louisville Western, is playing with the Suns this week. Pegues projects as a low-to-mid major type. East Tennessee State and Murray State have shown the most interest, while Purdue has also expressed interest. Pegues currently holds no scholarship offers.

Brandon Jennings, perhaps the top sophomore point guard prospect in the nation, played well to open camp. He's quick and elusive and reminds of former Georgia Tech star Kenny Anderson with his ability to push tempo and find open teammates. His outside jumpshot also seems to be improving. Jennings scored 17 points in two games, making 6 steals while commiting just three turnovers. Jennings listed Arizona as his favorite school. "I like that they run alot, and get after it." He also listed UCLA and Syracuse. A former teammate of Louisville freshman Bryan Harvey, Jennings said of the Cardinals, "They run the floor, play good defense and get after it and I like that. I'm looking to either stay out west or go back east."

Verdell Jones, 6-foot-2 sophomore point guard from Champaign, Ill attended Louisville's basketball camp last month. He's playing for the Wizards this week, and has drawn comparisons to former Illinois high school star Shaun Livingston. "Coach Pitino is a great coach," said Jones. "He sees things that some people can't see at all. He has a great knowledge of the game and I learned a lot at his camp. I had a great time and I learned a lot of stuff from the coaches." Jones said he's highly interested in the Cardinals. "I like how he let's his guards get free, and they use the pick and roll. I like their offense a lot and I'm definitely interested." Jones also listed Illinois, Kentucky, UCLA and North Carolina among his favorites.

Through two games, O.J. Mayo is both the camp's leading scorer (19.5) and top-rated player. Bill Walker is the camps third-rated player, behind 7-0 center Greg Oden. Mayo also is tied for first in assists (6.0). Brandon Jennings is second in steals (3.0). Derrick Caracter is among the camps leading shot blockers (1.5).

Stats (2 Games)

Martez Walker - 17 points

Derrick Caracter - 15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks

Earl Clark - 17 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists

Brandon Jennings - 17 points, 3 assists, 6 steals, 6-6 FT's

O.J Mayo - 38 points, 12 assists

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