USA: Thursday Notes

One day down, three to go here in Colorado Springs at the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival. Here are some notes from the first day's action ...

* The USA Youth Development Festival quite simply is the best collection of high school talent during the summer. This year is more of the same, as such a gathering of the nation's best will not be repeated until the all-star games next spring.

* And the talent isn't the only thing that makes this a superior event. The Rocky Mountains provide a much more appealing backdrop than what we'll see later this summer in Teaneck, N.J. and N. Augusta, S.C. (Stay tuned for scenic pictures)

* As per USA event guidelines, the games must adhere to international rules. This includes the widened foul lane, permitted goaltending, a 24-second shot clock, 8-second half court rule, etc.

* The most interesting roommate pair? JamesOn Curry and David Padgett. Hmmm … what an interesting coincidence …

* Thursday's agenda consisted of two two-hour practice sessions, giving us a first look at the four teams (North, South, East, West) that the USA committee had selected. By all accounts, the East and South are the superior squads. The East features three stellar point guards (Chris Paul, Michael Nardi and Sebastian Telfair) coupled with a solid frontcourt. Meanwhile, the South's backcourt is pretty darn good (Tack Minor, JamesOn Curry and Tim Morris) and the frontcourt is scary good (Jackie Butler, Travis Outlaw, Vakeaton Wafer, Mike Williams and Ndudi Ebi, who will arrive tomorrow). You get the idea, there are a ton of superstars here.

* This event makes it easy to pick out the hard workers and gym rats. While their teams were back at the dorms, Curry and Paul were shooting in the gym -- nonstop.

* Curry, meanwhile, was hitting his jumpers this afternoon in practice, a thing of beauty when his shot is clicking. Rest assured, we'll have much more on him in the next few days.

* Just an aside on Brian Butch: at first glance he's not that mobile or athletic, but that's far from the case. The slow jog up the court is deceptive, as he can really move when necessary and he's also able to sufficiently leap for rebounds and blocks. "It's almost like his athleticism will lull you to sleep, and then he'll do something that you didn't expect him to do," analyst Dave Telep explained. "He's an above-average athlete for a center." And, yes, expect lots more on Butch here at IC in the next three days.

* You may already know, but I've just got to reiterate that Shagari Alleyne is a huge human being. Calling him 7-3 and 255 pounds doesn't do him justice. What does, however, is watching players put their hands up against his and not even coming close. He's tall, his wingspan resembles that of a pterodactyl, and he has some agility. Watching him hit some pullup jumpers and dunk without leaving his feet served as a safe reminder that he'll be a lottery pick in about four years.

* Vakeaton Wafer exploded onto the national scene in late April, and in practice today backed up the claim that he is an all-american. The quiet, unassuming, small-town kid hit jumpers from all over the court, attacked the rim with a vengeance and threw down the dunk of the day during a scrimmage.

* The games start tomorrow and continue on Saturday, with the title game on Sunday morning. We'll have notes, photos, stats, etc – and I'll work on those Rocky Mountain shots …

Inside Carolina Top Stories