Missouri Hoops Camp

Missouri's elite camp draws a good crop of basketball talent

Missouri's Elite Basketball Camp wrapped up Friday morning for the nearly fifty players in attendance. The highlight of the camp for me occurred during a 5-on-5 scrimmage competition near the end of camp. A squad which featured 2011 PF Otto Porter 6'8" 190 Sikeston (MO) Scott County Central, and which was being coached by Missouri's Marcus Denmon, waged a furious come-from-behind effort, replete with full-court pressure, traps, steals, and a fine display of passing and getting real good looks in transition, against a squad which was being coached by Missouri's Jon Underwood, and which featured, among others, 2011 PF Ayodele Ojo 6'6" 230 Jonesboro (AR).

This was a high intensity affair that drew the attention of every coach in the building, as Porter displayed his immense savvy and athletic ability, as his team applied the full court defensive pressure Missouri style. Porter ran the front of the press, and his teammates attacked their opponent in the back court, creating turnovers and converting those, with the aid of some sharp passing and intelligent play, into some quick buckets as time ran down.

Porter's team was comprised mainly of some talented younger players, including a very talented 2012 wing in Nathan Jackson 6'5" 180 Wichita (KS) East. Denmon displayed excellent game management skills, with the use of time outs and changing defenses. His team seemed to be really keyed in to what he wanted from them, and pulled off the comeback, as Porter found a teammate cutting down the lane for a lay-up with a deft and well placed pass for the finale.

Overall, the camp was considered by all to be a very good quality camp, with a few seniors (2011), and many more juniors (2011), and sophomores (2013). In fact, I'd say that there were at least as many 2013 prospects at this camp as there were 2011 and 2012 combined. I'll feature most of the 2012 and the 2013 kids in a follow-up article.

Besides Porter, Jackson, and Ojo, who was the best pure athlete at the camp, and looks more like he should be wearing a helmet and pads, instead of playing on the hard court, other standout upperclassmen were 2011 wing Josh Richardson 6'5" 190 Edmond (OK) Santa Fe, and 2012 wing Cameron Biedschied 6'5" 180 St. Louis (MO Cardinal Ritter.

Biedschied, who plays for the St. Louis Eagles 16's is quick and athletic, with a smooth game. He handles it very well, and can score from inside or out. He shoots the three well, and appears to possess the ability to guard on the perimeter in college. It appears that he likes Mizzou, and they appear to like him. We'll have more on Biedscheid soon.

Jackson caught my eye from the beginning of camp. He's quick and athletic, with long arms, a good handle, and a soft touch on his jumper, as well as around the basket. He also got down and defended, which was integral to his team's exciting comeback win, and helped out on the boards. Like Biedschied, Jackson will continue to draw interest from mid and high majors.

Ojo is a big, physical, explosive athlete. He defended well, and was very strong underneath, rebounding and finishing with two hands and with emphasis. I suspect he shot about as high a percentage as anyone at the camp, as I never saw him take a shot from more than two or three feet from the basket. His favorite is a ferocious two-handed tomahawk dunk off of two feet where he brought the ball back behind his head before eye-balling the top of the rim. I lost count of how many of those he had. On the perimeter, he's better on the defensive side of the ball, where his superior athleticism allows him to stay in front of smaller players. On offense, he pretty much has to stay underneath, where he can catch it and explode to the rim. He does seem to pass it fairly well, and has a decent feel for the game. He'll play college ball somewhere, but somebody should have taken him over to the football offices.

Richardson's another mid to high major prospect, who does everything well. His length, and his athleticism, allow him to get inside and mix it up a little, but he's primarily a perimeter player with a nice mid-range jumper, who usually looks to get to the basket. He's also a pretty good defender, or at least has the ability to become one. He's being recruited by a number of schools, including Missouri.

Among the other 2011 players at the camp were SG Alex Carr 6'2" 180 Birmingham (AL) Minor, Gary Smith, Jalen Williams, Spencer Mathews 5'11" Little Rock (AR), and Rakeem Dickerson 6'1" 165 Little Rock (AR).

The star of the camp, in my opinion, at least among the upper class men, was Porter. I can't help but think that he raised his status in the view of the Missouri coaches. For one thing, the comeback that his team staged gave him an opportunity to display his ability to thrive in Missouri's system. He showed real good quickness to go along with his superior court and game awareness. And, he got to show off some of his passing skills. Going up against Ojo, who is very strong, and a very good defender, gave Porter the opportunity to show everyone how he would match up against a very strong and physical player. Porter didn't get pushed around that much. Ojo looks like he might push around offensive tackles for a warm-up, and he bodied up on Porter aggressively. But, Porter wasn't knocked off of his game, and his team prevailed.

Every time I see Porter play, I like him more and more. He has considerable ability, and there's just not much on the basketball floor that he doesn't do well. He's all about making sure that his team wins, and he knows how to do that. He just does whatever it takes to win. Whether it's defending aggressively 90 feet from the basket, then hustling back to block or change a shot, rebounding the ball, pushing it up on the bounce or with a pass, attacking the glass, dropping it off or laying it in, throwing it down or getting it back off the glass and making a pass, he just does it all, whatever it takes to make sure his team wins.

ShowMeMizzou will have more on the camp, featuring some very promising sophomores and the rest of the juniors, and we'll have more on Otto Porter, as well in the next few days.

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