Shakur Makes His Case for No. 1:
* If Chris Paul isn't the best pure point guard in the class of 2003 -- then Mustafa Shakur has to be. The 6-4 (almost 6-5) floor general was probably the best overall player that we observed tonight. He's quick, smooth, controlled, skilled and knows how to run the offense. You won't see many mistakes out of the Philly rising senior and he frustrates his counterparts with his extra-long arms on defense.
Minutes after besting Jason Horton's Lakers, Shakur outplayed the Blazers' good backcourt (Marcus Williams and Ray Reed), leading his squad to an early 15-point lead. And the Blazers are one of the most talented squads here, also featuring Al Jefferson and Olu Famutimi. But it didn't phase Shakur as he ran the break like a seasoned veteran, scoring and flicking dimes at will.
But with Shakur on the bench -- the Blazers went on a 19-0 run and took over the game in which they eventually won.
If there was a clear cut best player (not prospect - that nod goes to Jefferson) tonight in the Siegal Center, it was definitely Mustafa Shakur.
The Versatile Ibekwe:
The most frustrating player to watch tonight (no, not Major Wingate -- he's not here) was Ekene Ibekwe.
Blessed with a long 6-8 frame, wings for arms and exceptional athleticism, he chose to stay on the perimeter shooting, and missing, three pointers. Ibekwe is much more effective as a post player with wing skills, rather than a wing player with post skills. He should spend more than half the game in the paint, blocking shots, snagging boards, and scoring from mid-range and in with his soft touch. However, not today.
Maybe he just didn't want to bang his 190-pound frame against the rock solid Mohamed Tangara. After all, who does? Ibekwe's highlight of the night came on a big two-handed slam in transition -- and he proceeded to place the ball on the stomach of the fallen defender he had just dunked on. "He's one bad mother ..." a nearby analyst repeated several times.
Let's hope tomorrow we see more of the bad m.f. and less of the three-point shots.
* With commitments already coming from 2004, one must glance at some 2005 prospects now and then -- and Marcus Ginyard is in the lead pack. He's a point guard, only 15 years old, but is already 6-4, 180-pounds. With Horton on his team, he saw time at the wing, hitting some jumpers, tipping in an offensive board and throwing down a strong, two-handed slam. Clint Jackson's four-word scouting report on Ginyard: "Athletic, lean, long and controlled." 'Nuff said.
* To our disappointment, 2004 post player Brian Johnson left the camp this afternoon -- before we were able to enter the gym. He's headed to N.C. to be with family there, but we've talked to those who saw him and will have a report in the next few days on how he fared.
* A new name for recruiting junkies: Marlon Pompey, a 6-9, 210-pound power forward from Mallon (Calif.) Heritage. The rising senior jumps well, scores, blocks shots and owns the glass. He's a high-major prospect.
* The tight restrictions of the NBPA camp are in full force again this year, with a security force to ensure that no photos are taken and no players are spoken to. There's a 60 minute window Saturday designated for photos and interviews, and like last year, we'll squeeze in all we can tomorrow.
* So check back tomorrow for more notes, analysis, and some photos.