SUWANEE, Ga. – Tuesday night in the Suwanee Sports Academy was not unlike my first-day exposure to almost any major high school national all-star-type camp I've attended for the better part of 30 years:
I spent most of the evening just trying to get my bearings.
I skipped the first adidas Superstar Camp a year ago in this Atlanta suburb but I can see why the adidas powers-that-be opted to hold their event at this facility: you can watch four games simultaneously, if you're so inclined and have some of the greatest peripheral vision known to mankind.
The parking at the facility is also very user freely: Translated – it's just barely 50 yards from air-conditioned car to air-conditioned gym, with just a few moments of honest-to-goodness, big-time humidity to endure during the short jaunt.
Anyway, after bagging my adidas Superstar Camp media roster – it might have been nice if they had include the players' high schools, as well as hometowns, by the way – and staggering into the facility at about 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, I spent the better part of the next three hours with my eyes darting from court to roster (while flipping pages rapidly) to court to roster . . . you get it.
Hopefully I'll be a little more in sync with my surroundins Wednesday, even with a liberal dose of schmoozing with college coaches tossed in. Of course, then it's off to Indianapolis Thursday morning for the final three days of the Nike All-America Camp, where my evaluation equilibrium will be jolted once again.
I'm passing, for the second July in a row, on the ABCD Camp because, in reality, about 95 percent of the players in that camp will be on display at the July 22-26 Rebook Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas.
Here are some of the guys (I would have called them "youngsters" but who knows how old some of these "prep school" players really are that I'll see over the next few week) that made an impression Tuesday night:
*Wayne Ellington. Watching him for five days at the USA Basketball Youth Festival in San Diego last month left me with the opinion that the future North Carolina Tar Heel is easily the top shooting guard prospect in the national Class of 2006. I don't need to evaluate this guy any longer.
*Michael Beasley. It was my first extended peek at the forward who is rated a consensus Top Three (with O.J. Mayo and Kevin Love) as one of the three most promising prospects in the Class of 2007. The ultimate praise: The game seems to come easily to the lefty. He wasn't even challenged in the game I watched Tuesday night and it's hard to imagine he being seriously tested more than two or three times (vs. Stanley Robinson and James Keefe, the other two forwards who were exceptional Tuesday night). By the way, I'm not buying the 6-10 that he's listed at in the camp program, no more than I'm buying the 6-6 Mayo was listed at in a USA Today profile Wednesday morning. But players "sizes" were probably juiced by a couple of inches apiece.
*Brook Lopez. Bound for Stanford (along with twin Robin), he was easily the most polished, and dominating, of the legitimately 6-10 or above players in the camp.
*Quincy Pondexter. The high school teammate of the Lopez Twins was as aggressive (I don't mean in jacking up mindless shot attempts, either, a malady that infected the usual large number of campers Tuesday night) as anyone I watched. No one got to the rim any quicker.
*Thaddeus Young. He was injured (severely sprained right ankle) 10 minutes into his first USA Basketball Youth Festival. I'll focus on him a little more Wednesday. But the lefty looked every bit as skilled and fluid as he did before being injured in San Diego.
*Larry Drew, the former NBA guard and current Atlanta Hawks assistant coach, was one of about 10 or so NBA staff members watching the action Tuesday night. Commissioner David Stern is expected to issue an edict that will ban league front-office personnel, scouts and coaches from attending high school, tournament or camp games and events, including those held in the summer, starting this winter. But Drew was there to watch his son, Larry Drew Jr., a point guard in the Class of 2008 who attends Taft High in Woodland Hills, Calif. Will Stern grant waivers for NBA fathers with hoopster sons?
*With Kevin Love (who plays for the Nike-sponsored Portland Elite Legends) ending up at the ABCD Camp, it sets the stage for (possibly) the only showdown this summer between the two best low post prospects in the country, Love (Class of 2007) and Greg Oden (Class of 2006). I'm envious of those in the Fairleigh Dickinson gymnasium who'll get to watch that collision. Here's a hint, Greg: Be prepared for a lot of ball and head fakes.
*You know you're not in Southern California anymore but in the South when you order an "Arnold Palmer" and the waitress gives you a confused look. When you explain that it's a half-iced tea/half-lemonade concoction, she says with a smile "Oh, you mean a sweet tea?" By the way, has anyone ever confirmed if Arnold Palmers drinks "Arnold Palmers"?