Nike: Pitino arrives; Eyes top juniors

Indianapolis, IN - - Louisville coach Rick Pitino arrived at the Nike All-America Camp on Friday after spending Thursday at the ABCD Camp in Teaneck, New Jersey. Though the Cardinals are still looking to land a couple of 2007 prospects, Pitino's focus at Nike was clearly devoted to the nation's top juniors. Who caught Pitino's eye? has the details.

Indianapolis, IN -- Rick Pitino arrived at the Nike Camp Friday morning after spending Thursday in New Jersey at the ABCD Camp tracking Darquavis Tucker.

Pitino spent the morning watching the campers perform fundamental drills and 3-on-3 competitions. After a two hour break for lunch, Pitino arrived at the NIFS on the IUPUI campus in time for the second game of the afternoon, which featured several of the top junior prospects in the nation.

Pitino, accompanied by assistant Marvin Menzies and Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin, was courtside for a 3:30 game that pitted Illinois against Michigan State. The Michigan State team featured Louisville commit Martez Walker, and 2008 prospects Tyreke Evans and Clarence Trent. For Illinois, Pitino got an up close look at 6'9 PF Greg Monroe, one of the nation's top juniors from Louisiana.

Walker got off to a fast start with his future coach watching, scoring 8 quick points in the first half. The 6'5 Walker got out in transition early to score three buckets, including a dunk and reverse lay up. Walker also drained an 18 foot midrange jumper from the left wing.

Though Illinois opened a sizable lead in the second half, Walker, Evans and Co. made a valiant comeback only to fall just short in the end to drop their second game of the camp.

In the last afternoon game, Pitino and Menzies made the short trek from Court 1 to Court 2 to watch Delvon Roe, a 6'8 junior forward from Ohio.

During the night session, Pitino was on hand to see Semardo Samuels in action against Tyreke Evans and Martez Walker. Samuels, a 6'8, 240-pound center, showcased his enormous talent, scoring inside, putting the ball on the floor and finding open teammates with precise passes.

For the second time in four games, Walker's team fell in a close one to Samuels' squad. Walker had 12 points in the first game Friday and followed that up with six points during the night game against Samuels.

While Pitino watched Samuels, Evans and Walker, Menzies moved to Court 2 to keep a close watch on 6'9 Greg Monroe and 6'8 Patrick Patterson, a 6'8 rising senior for West Virginia. After the game, Patterson listed Wake Forest and Kentucky as the leaders for his services.

Nike Camp Buzz

One player Louisville fans might want to keep an eye on is Dexter Strickland, a 6'2 guard from Rahway, New Jersey. If Strickland's hometown sounds familiar to Cardinal fans, it should. Rahway is also the home of freshman forward Earl Clark. Strickland, a rising sophomore, is easily one of the top guards in his class at Nike. A quick, athletic guard, Strickland is a good young prospect who consistently plays with his head up, has a nice stroke with three-point range, and understands how to force tempo. Strickland claims offers from Michigan State, Rutgers, Marquette, Syracuse, Georgetown, Florida, Wisconsin and Florida State.

Another good young prospect is 6'8, 223-pound Jeremy Tyler, a rising freshman from California. That's right, Tyler has yet to play a high school game, but he's clearly oozing potential. Tyler had a big-time block from behind and showed a nice baseline scoring move Friday afternoon.

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