USA Basketball: Day One

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – It took about five minutes in the gym to realize that this might be the finest collection of players ever to participate at the USA Basketball Youth Developmental Festival.

Thursday at the USA Basketball Youth Developmental Festival was a day to get to know everybody. One of the unique things about this camp is that kids from both sides of the shoe wars get to mix, mingle and play with and against each other.

The first day of the camp included a three hour practice session that for the most part was uneventful. However, that changes tomorrow when 44 of the finest players in the country lace them up with their respective teams with an eye on Sunday's Gold Medal game.

The talent level here in Colorado Springs is big time. A quick tour around the gym revealed that the North, South, East and – yes, even the – West teams are loaded. Traditionally, the West has struggled out here but this year's squad is loaded. From Arron Afflalo to Dorell Wright, the roster is dotted with stars; as is each of the four teams.

Here's some quick thoughts from the practice session:

A few weeks ago, Arron Afflalo didn't appear to have much fun at the Pangos Camp. He wasn't himself because he wasn't relaxed. Today, he had it going. The charismatic UCLA-bound guard was loose, smiling and in turn had it rolling from downtown. Look for him to have a big week.

Kalen Grimes was energetic in his team's practice session. Grimes tops out at 6-8, but he was throwing down dunks with regularity during the session.

Like Afflalo, Isaiah Swann had it going from deep. The lefty's stroke is looking good already and Jason Rich of the South said that he was totally impressed by Swann's work ethic early in the camp.

With Marvin Williams and Robert Swift headlining the frontcourt of the West, a guy like Robert Rothbart might find himself free to shoot some shots from the perimeter. We haven't seen Rothbart in a year but he's grown and he's got a nice touch from the outside.


Imagine what the South roster would have looked like if Dwight Howard, Ra'Sean Dickey, Al Jefferson and Lamarcus Aldridge would have shown up? … Look for Jason Rich to cut his list down to 7 schools on Monday. … There's going to be a helluva point guard battle here. In attendance is Jordan Farmar, Sebastian Telfair, Shaun Livingston, Drew Neitzel, Jason Horton, Marquie Cooke and Tiki Mayben here. We list Darius Washington – whom some consider a PG – as more of a shooting guard but toss his name in the mix as well. … Ohio forward Josh Duncan doesn't get out to many events but he's here this week. Duncan, who has not taken any official visits, declined to share the list of schools he's looking at, preferring to keep his list to himself.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Shaun Livingston's stock continues to rise as he matched up with Sebastian Telfair. Meanwhile, the West posted their first win of the event. SCOREBOARD

East (2-0) 129, North (0-2) 119

West (1-1) 137, South (1-1) 134

2004 Checklist

Shaun Livingston, PG, North: In the marquee matchup against Sebastian Telfair, Livingston rose to the occasion. He hit for 19 points (8-10 FG) and used his obvious size advantage in his favor. On offense he was able to get past and over Telfair in the times they checked each other and defensively his height made finishing tough on Sebastian. They guarded each other often and Telfair finished with 10 points and 3 assists on 4-for-13 from the field. Livingston's stock is going through the roof these days.

West Team: They put seven players in double-figures in their win over the North. Cameron Stanley led the way with 20, followed by Isaiah Swann's 17, J.R. Smith's 16, 14 each from Davis Nwankwo and Marquie Cooke, 11 from James Gist and 10 from Telfair. Team effort in the 10-point win.

Malik Hairston, SF, North: Not unlike Carmelo Anthony, Hairston is always at his best when he rebounds the ball. In his first game, he had just one board to go with 9 points. In no coincidence, he had 24 points and 9 rebounds in the nightcap. He went 4-for-7 from downtown and scored just about every way imaginable.

Joe Crawford, SG, North: There's no denying him a spot in our Top 20 when the rankings come out next week. He's strong, a super athlete, has a great feel and finishes with forceful dunks often. He had 24 points in a loss to the East.

Mike Williams, PF, South: For the second game in a row, Williams had a double-double at the half. Against the West, he scored 21 points and had 19 rebounds! That means he's averaging 17 boards since getting to Colorado Springs. The lighter air up here on the mountain has him playing way above the rim. He had 10 offensive rebounds tonight.

Darius Washington, G, South: Those who watched thought that his 32 points were pretty impressive. He had a 3-point look from the wing to tie the game but it wouldn't go down at the buzzer. Apparently his one-on-one moves were pretty impressive. We've always thought of him as a terrific free throw shooter and he was 6-for-6 tonight.

Robert Swift, C, West: He had 23 points as he crashed the boards – he's got 20 in two games – and apparently converted some really nice skilled moves.

Jordan Farmar, PG, West: After this morning's sub-par performance, he got it rolling to the tune of 19 points and 8 assists. Always a reliable shooter, Farmar went 5-for-6 from downtown and had a big hand in the win.

DeMarcus Nelson, SG, West: After a 29-point morning effort, Nelson hit for 25 in the nightcap on 8-for-18 from the field. He also tied Farmar as the high-assist man of the day with 8 dimes.

Scout's Perspective

Not only is Joe Crawford a terrific offensive player, he's really taking his defense seriously at the camp. Maybe the play of the day came off a Crawford crossover in which he blew by Isaiah Swann for a sweet baseline dunk. … As we said before, if you watch Malik Hairston closely, you can gauge the kind of game he's going to have by the way he rebounds. Tonight he even finished a few plays with slams. …

J.R. Smith is a rhythm shooter. The less time he's got to get it up, the better the results. …. Cameron Stanley's perimeter game was really working tonight. He was an efficient 7-for-10 from the field. … Isaiah Swann might be the best offensive rebounding guard in the class.

Inside The Numbers:

Farmar completely turned his assist to turnover ratio over. He had 5 assists and – an uncharacteristic – 8 turnovers in his first. However, in the nightcap he lost it just twice to go with 8 assists; the mark of a good player. … Mike Williams had 11 points and 11 rebounds at the break. … The West boasted a camp-high 37 assists. … Randolph Morris had 11 rebounds in his game. … D.J. White's outstanding play continued as he posted 25 points. … The West has jacked up a camp-high 73 3-pointers in two games. … Marvin Williams turned it up for a stretch in the evening game. So far his numbers from the event are quiet. He had 5 points and 2 rebounds in the first game and 11 points and 9 boards. … Crawford is 19-for-27 through his first two games. Not too shabby. …

News & Notes

OK, so there's not a ton of defense being played out here but that's not the lone reason for the high scores. Games consist of four, 12-minute quarters with clock stoppages. The length of the games skews the stats. Also, with the camp coaches having limited knowledge of their personnel, we've seen some strange lineups. …

Dorell Wright is ready to list DePaul, Iowa, Florida, Southern Cal and Connecticut. … The North's starting five is pretty good but their bench is not as talented the other teams here and that's costing them. …

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