Hoop Jamboree Recap

ST. LOUIS – The annual Nike Hoop Jamboree winds up proving to be a valuable tool in evaluating players in younger age brackets. Last week's event was highlighted by the play of two big time big men as Greg Oden and Tyler Hansbrough took center stage.

Greg Oden of Indianapolis Lawrence North High will enter his sophomore year at least 6-11 and 230 pounds. Last Sunday, he left the Hoop Jamboree as the top prospect in the building. If Oden ever sees a minute of college someone gets a helluva player. He's one of the best rebounders and defensive prospects we've seen in the past few years. His offense is coming and after the reverse dunk in traffic and one-handed, one-dribble dunk from the free throw line, he cemented his status as the top player in the 2006 in our mind. His head-to-head matchup with Vernon Macklin turned into a no contest.

Neither Oden nor 2005 power forward Tyler Hansbrough is long on words, but the Poplar Bluff (MO) High prospect is big on production. He opened the camp with a 37-point, 17-rebound effort. He's tough, skilled, savvy and a true competitor. Think Christian Laettner, seriously. His team defeated Oden's in the camp 3-on-3 championship.

Ramar Smith, a 2006 standout from Detroit King, proved to be an elite wing player. He filled it up all week long. Clearly, Smith is one of the best in his class. Speaking of elite wing players, you can call Josh Thornton of Camden (DE) Ceasar Rodney a point or a two guard. Regardless the 2005 standout was the best shooter at the event. Once the curtain went up, it was showtime.

Wake Forest 2005 commitment Kevin Swinton was big time in St. Louis. The Greensboro Dudley power forward looking comfortable on a camp team alongside Oden and proved to be a super-reliable scorer who tried to dunk everything. He accomplished all this despite playing with a few nagging injuries.

Pierre Niles, a 2006 prospect who plays for coach Jarrett Stephens at Memphis Treadwell, has big time written all over him. At 6-7 and 236 it's almost freakish the skill package he has. Right now, it's just unfair.

Vernon Macklin was one of the best prospects here. The "Big Ticket" is long, lean, bouncy and athletic. His production might not have exactly equaled his potential but there's a lot to work with here and he'll be an elite level player in 2006's class.

Two of the better PGs in St. Louis were Chris Douglas-Roberts (2005) of Detroit Cass Tech and Mike Conley (2006) of Lawrence North. Douglas-Roberts is a Shaun Livingston-clone who can legitimately play three positions. Conley is a steady, smooth lefty who is the son of an Olympian.

If Thornton was the best shooter in camp, than native Puerto Rican David Huertas (2005) was No. 2, followed closely by 2005 guard Booker Woodfox of Lewisville, Tex.

K.C. Rivers, a future Oak Hill guard from the Class of 2005, showed he can play multiple positions and score with consistency. The same can be said for Nashville (TN) Baylor junior-to-be Jonathan Adams. He took a bow to the nose on Friday and that slowed him a bit but he's a scorer.

Rashad Chase and Jamelle Cornley were two of the max effort guys at the camp. No one played harder than Cornley who proved that despite his 6-5 frame, he's a tough matchup inside. He makes guys work for their rebounds and points.

The ball-handling display 2005 Detroit Murray-Wright center Anthony Sparks put on was impressive. Sparks, a lefty, goes 6-8 and 328 pounds and he'll be one of the best in his class.

The future is bright for Eric Boateng, a native of England. The Middletown (DE) St. Andrews 2005 center is blessed with potential. He's 6-10, athletic and will not only be a shot blocker, but a scorer as well. He improved each day at the camp.

Be on the lookout for 2005 guys like point guard Mitchell Johnson of Seattle, power forward David Palmer of Tennessee, PF Jon Brockman of Washington state, PG Travis Walton of Ohio, center Kent Tribbett of Pennsylvania and shooter Kevin Lisch of Illinois.

As far as 2006 prospects go, look out for swingman Daequan Cook of Ohio, center Shawntell Norman of Oklahoma, SF William Graves of North Carolina, center Brian Zoubek of New Jersey. Puerto Rican Josue Soto-Martinez and Denver center Raymond Hall.

2007's Michael Coburn of New York will be a stud guard. One of the biggest players at the camp was a rising 8th grader. Auri Allen of Tennessee can play and he tipped the scales at 6-10 and 319 pounds.

The Hoop Jamboree showcased tomorrow's stars today and it remains one of the most valuable events we attend each year.

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