Nike Camp Perspective

My take on players I've observed the first couple of days at the camp.

The most surprising kid I've observed thus far is Al Horford. When I went to see him at the Glass City Classic I was impressed with his fundamentals, but left wondering about his big time ability. Maybe it's the level of competition at this camp, but Al has really taken his game up a notch. I was unsure if he would be able to get his offense against better athletes, but he passed that test with flying colors. He has been getting outstanding position in the post and has kept his composure in response to the double downs that have frequently come his way. Both his half hook and drop step are money in the bag thus far. On a number of occasions he tossed the ball out to the perimeter so he could reset, and go back to work. He also ran the floor and filled the lane much better than he did in Toledo. The Al I'm witnessing here is a totally different kid. He threw down a nasty dunk in transition that drew a lot of oohs and ahhs. Again, his vertical won't be mistaken for the highest at this camp, but he has a whole hell of a lot of determination. That was overwhelmingly evident on that play! I spoke to a couple of college coaches who were GREATLY impressed with his effort. The knock on Al (besides the fact that he's 6'7") has been athleticism (or lack thereof). He isn't one of those explosive leapers that can sky over his opponents. However, he does have very long arms and excellent moves in the post.

Mohamed Tangara's athleticism is NOT in question. I saw him go toe to toe with Al Jefferson (who is a monster) in three on three today, and Mohamed is every bit the athlete. Also, his offense is further along than some descriptions might suggest. As I indicated earlier, he's supposed to be coming into Ann Arbor in August. We'll know much more about where Michigan stands after his trek to Ann Arbor.

Malik Hairston has been playing quite a bit of point during the camp and is showing himself quite well. He hasn't been looking for his own offense quite as much as I've seen in past games. But when he has…he has really focused on going to the rack with authority! He has exploded this summer with his marksmanship from deep. However, thus far in the games that I've watched, his improving ability to get in the lane has been his theme offense.

I saw Joe Joe in 3-on-3 toward the end of the morning session, and in two team games later in the day and. It was the same old story…the kid can flat out get it done on the offensive end. Guys have been afraid to crowd him because they know he can fly by…but he's been nailing the jumper at a good enough rate to get the college coaches talking even more. I overheard one coach say "he's the most complete scoring guard at this camp." Don't let my talk of his jumpers fool you into thinking that he didn't catch a few oops or go baseline for a dunk or two…because he DEFINITELY threw a few down!

Ronald Coleman quite simply is one of my favorite young men to cover. He' just a great kid and his personality will win Michigan fans over immediately. Ronnie is probably averaging around ten points per game and has been consistent from behind the arc. He threw down a great tomahawk on the break in the game versus Vernon Macklin's team. Ron is much more of a team player than most kids at this camp. He'll never be fully appreciated on the national scene because his unselfishness is somewhat of a detriment at individual events such as this. When he looks for his shot, he is one of the better scorers around. He's still working on putting it on the floor and is has been looking better at it this week.

Sophomore-to-be, Vernon "Big Ticket" Macklin, is a kid most schools in the nation ( including Michigan) are already looking at. At 6-9 205-210lbs, he's a face up player with an excellent first step. He can handle it nicely for his size and he can sky. I haven't seen much of his back to the basket game so I don't have a real feel for if he's a straight to the league type of player.

One guy I am certain will NEVER set foot in college is another 2006 prospect…Greg Oden Jr. from Indianapolis Lawrence North H. S. Ask anyone who has watched this kid what college they think he might go to and then wait for them to laugh at you! 6-11, 240 and cat quick….Nuff said! He has no peer in his age group.

This is the second tournament I've seen Josh McRoberts play in(saw him at the MDC versus the Family) and he is certainly a very nice athlete. He's great at running the floor and is a good rebounder, but his offense, especially his face up jumper, needs some refinement. Check out my camp musings on the premium board for more on Josh.

Anthony Sparks has lost some weight since I last saw him. As his conditioning increases he'll get better at running the floor with the thoroughbreds he's playing against. He's young and his lack of experience against some of the older players is showing. The positive part of his game is if you throw the ball down low to him, he isn't going to fumble around with it. His hands are like glue and he's deliberate with his offense. However, with his lack of explosion off of the floor, he's going to need to develop some form of a hook shot to keep it from getting blocked as he begins to face bigger(literally) and stiffer competition. While he does attend the same high school that Tractor Trailor did, there's a night and day difference between the athleticism those two possess. On a side note, this big man can really handle the rock (as Vince Baldwin noted in the Hoop Jamboree recap).

I've come down from my Chris Douglas-Roberts high from a few days ago. He looked very good at the Family practice I attended last week, but as I stipulated then…that was only a practice. The young man definitely has some skills, but his slight frame (6-5, 165) puts him at a disadvantage versus the more physically mature opposition at this camp. Still, he has a lot of potential. He's very crafty with his shot when going to the hole, but his ability to handle the rock at his size is his most intriguing trait. He can run the point but will have to be taught the position. He has been holding his own on the offensive end, but this is definitely a learning experience for him. It will be interesting to hear how this experience helps him when the Family laces them up at the Peach Jam next week. Consider me back on the Jerret Smith bandwagon as top 2005 player in the state (not that I was ever off it). A healthy Jerret Smith would be the PG all the kids at this camp would want to play with.

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