Joe Crawford was AWESOME yesterday! With both Durand "Speedy" Walker (Coach of The Family) and Mark White (Coach at Detroit Renaissance) in attendance, Joe-Joe took his game to another level. The young man was on fire in the afternoon session, nailing two threes (that I saw) a few nice pull-ups, along with a few big time slams. One in particular drew expressions of disbelief from observers on two different courts! Toward the end of the game Joe drove down the middle of the lane (where three players were congregated), jump-stopped, and exploded to the rim for a ferocious slam. It didn't matter that a couple of guys jumped. Joe just jumped right over and through them! The kid has tremendous hops!
In the evening session, in an otherwise uneventful game versus Malik Hairston's California team, Joe put on a 10 second dribbling display to run the clock out that was comical to watch Imagine playing keep away with a young kid and you'll have a good idea of what his exhibition resembled. Three different players tried to steal the ball from him. They even tried to trap him in the corner, but no dice. He went behind his back, between his legs, stutter-stepped, hit them with the hesitation, the crossover…. and went around or between their rather futile efforts like a hot knife through butter. From my observation of Joe-Joe in almost 30 games/practices over the past 6 months, his handle is the part of his game that improved the most. He is without question one of the top players at the camp and his phone will undoubtedly be ringing off of the hook!
One of the great match-ups of the day took place in the afternoon session when Hairston's California squad took on Mohammed Tangara's Oregon squad. The California team also features Ra'Sean Dickey and Dayshaun Wright. Tangara and Dickey matched up for most of the game and it was a very competitive battle. Tangara is the better athlete, but Dickey is the more skilled offensive player. Though a few pounds heavier than Mohammed, Ra'Sean wasn't able to back him down with the same ease which he had done with other players. He improvised with a couple of quick spin moves or drop steps to the baseline for good looks at the basket. Mohammed wasn't quite as effective on the offensive end. He could establish great position, but wasn't really able to shake the bigger and heavier Dickey. However, he was a bear on the boards. The only other player nearly as impressive grabbing caroms from the hoop during the game was Malik Hairston.
Many may not know this, but Malik is a great rebounder from his position. He attacks the boards like a post player. He has uncanny anticipation abilities and gets good positioning. He also has great hands as evidenced by his frequent one armed rebounds, which he brings down protected by a fierce elbow before he starts the break. Malik hit a few of his customary threes from deep. However, as I indicated yesterday, he's been driving to the basket with more intensity. Also, in his role as point guard for much of his court time, he has been doing a very effective job of driving and dishing as the defense collapses on him. He has looked very strong in Indianapolis.
I'd be remiss if I did speak more on Dayshaun Wright. In the game that also featured Tangara and Dickey, he was the best post player on the court. Though only 6'5 – 6'6, he's an outstanding athlete that has obviously spent a lot of time in the weight room. He utilizes the pump fake to create opportunities and also out-quicks most opponents. He was the most effective post scorer in the game and also showed well on the boards.
Ronald Coleman had an effective afternoon under the watchful eye of Speedy. All of the Family kids seemed to play with a renewed vigor with their coaches in the stands. Don't think for a minute that they these basketball teachers left their coaching at home because it was on full display from the bleachers.. Ron threw down a huge slam of an in-bounds play. He also nailed a few threes. This is another young man that has really been focusing on putting the ball on the floor at the camp. It's apparent that it's something that he's been working on with Speedy. Ronnie is a hard worker, so he's only going to get better.
My final recollection from the day was watching Al Horford's team match up with Marquise Gray's squad. Gray is quite simply a stellar athlete. You won't find many big men that can run or jump with him. He'll need to keep developing his offensive skills, but he has an excellent foundation to work with. Marquise is a better athlete the Al, but yet again, Al held his own. I sat down with al for a little one on one conversation with him yesterday and he made it clear that he was going to take it at the competition at the camp. He was convinced that he could play with these players and from what I've seen, he's right. He's has unquestionably been one of the most effective post men at the camp. I sat down and spoke with Tito Horford (Al's dad) for about 30 minutes to talk about his son's development. For more on Al and other important subjects, check the Camp Musings on our premium board.
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