Jerret Smith started out the day with an impressively unselfish floor game as his Nuggets took on O.J. Mayo's Pistons. We had Jerret down unofficially for 4 points and 7 assists in the contest. Watching his court vision this morning reminded us why those that know basketball marvel at his passing ability. On one play Jerret drew the defense by going up for a three when he spotted a wide open Ray Hall under the basket. Smith rifled the pass to Hall underneath, but because the 7-footer wasn't expecting the pass, he muffled it. He had to go to the floor to get the ball, but he was able to recover quick enough to convert the bucket. On another play, Jerret drove the left baseline, drew three defenders, and then threw a wrap-around pass to Hall again. This time the big fella handled it and went up right away for the deuce. On defense, Jerret had his hands full guarding O.J. Mayo. However, the same can be said for just about anyone that faces the young phenom. Still Jerret did a good job of making Mayo work hard defensively to keep him out of the lane. We'll be catching Jerret in action again later this evening.
Jerret drives to his right, past OJ Mayo on the baseline and nails the lefty runner over the converging big man
As we mentioned in the Camp preview, Jerret and Jevohn Shepherd both play on the Nuggets. Unfortunately they never saw the court at the same time do to the substitution pattern. Jerret started at PG while Jevohn came off of the bench at SG. The games consist of two 20-minute halves and there are mandatory substitutions for each player every 10 minutes. While Jevohn was on the court he went against CJ Miles and played some pretty tight defense. However, he wasn't really able to get on track offensively and saw his only points come in transition. Miles won the head to head battle and reached double figures. Still, he had to wrok hard for what he got. As for Shepherd,the young Canadian has been somewhat of a slow starter in the past, so we expect his play to pick up as the tournament goes on.
Jevohn Shepherd goes up strong on CJ Miles
The most successful post payer in the game was Ryan Wright. He was a little too quick and athletic for Ray Hall. Wright was more of a presence defensively than when we saw him in action previously. He altered a number of shots in the lane. On the offensive end he was able to flash his power game (thanks in large part to all of the attention thrown at Mayo). Ryan showed a nice soft touch as well with a few short jumpers. We had him in double figures in what was a very complete game for him.
Ryan Wright goes up strong against Ray Hall
The story of the contest had to be Mayo. The young man definitely lives up to the hype. Though he'll only be a sophomore next year, many pundits suggest that he'll never spend a day at the college level. His skill set has harkened comparisons to fellow Ohioan Lebron James. He isn't quite as explosive as James was at the same stage, but he's a better shooter and has the same uncanny court awareness. At 6-5 195 lbs., Mayo has the ability to star at the 1,2, or 3. He logged a number of minutes at PG and was very effective. We had him down for 5 assists including a 3/4 quart bounce pass through traffic that found a streaking big man for two. Add to that his near 20-point scoring effort and his hustle like he was the lowest rated player in the camp and you can see why the scouts are drooling.
OJ Mayo on Jerret Smith
Despite Mayo's efforts, the game was a nail biter. After being down close to 10 points early, the Nuggets came back to tie the score at 70 with an And-1 in the waning moments of regulation. The Pistons scored a quick deuce in the two-minute overtime period. They added an insurance dunk in the last 30 seconds before claiming the game 74-73.
Jerret draws 3 defenders and dishes to Hall for the easy 2!
On anadjacent court, the much anticipated battle between Eric Boateng and Greg Oden took place. We mentioned earlier that many consider Oden the top big man in the country regardless of class and he certainly played like it this morning. The junior-to-be outplayed his his counterpart, outscoring Boateng 10-2 down the stretch. He was so effective at changing Eric's attempts that at one point the London native shot the ball over the backboard. Oden's team dominated from start to finish before cruising to a comfortable double digit lead.
We'll be catching a lot more big time action tonight as we watch Boateng's team take on a squad with Alex Stepheson and an view an intriguing mach-up between Jerret Smith and Mike Conley in the night cap. Be sure to check back for recaps/info on those and many more players.