2008 TARGETS AT NBPA
Larry Drew - There's no questioning how highly the UNC staff thinks of Drew, considering that the 5-11 PG from Los Angeles has already given the Heels a verbal commitment. Heading into last week, few players in the country had been scrutinized as much as the slender playmaker. Despite some harsh criticism aimed in his direction over the past couple months, Drew doesn't look or play like he's let any of it get to him. After adjusting to his camp teammates the first few days, he played his best ball in months and had a bounce in his step that had been missing for a little while. He drove into the lane and found teammates with clever passes, he knocked down jumpers when needed and he led his camp team to a championship game win. He also finished No. 3 in the camp in assists. Drew will need to add some bulk before arriving in Chapel Hill, but based on last week's performance he now looks to be playing a lot more like the Larry Drew who earned raves all last summer.
Tyler Zeller - The slender big man from Indiana has become one of the most sought after big men recruits in the country. The best thing about it is that he's done so by earning coaches attention on the floor and not because of an inflated reputation or self promotion. Few, if any, bigs in the class of 2008 run the floor as well as Zeller, who runs on his toes and eats up court with smooth long strides. He's got sure hands to go along with that running ability and as a result he's constantly able to make tough catches on the move and makes a living off of transition baskets. In a set offense, Zeller is a fine shooter to 17 feet and a very alert passer from the high post. He'll get pushed around a bit close to the basket due to his frame, but his quickness and ability to put the ball on the floor for a dribble or two after shot fakes and the fact that he can go left help to make up for his lack of bulk. Considering that he was barely on the national radar just a few months ago, it's been pretty impressive watching him develop into a guy who has a legitimate shot at becoming a McDonald's All-American.
Demar DeRozan - Given his high flying style and the usual up and down pace of summer camp games, it was kind of a quiet week for DeRozan. A much improved jump shooter, he is now working to bring his ball handling up to par. While he's fine attacking the rim off a dribble or two on slashes to the basket, he struggled at times to create shots from between eight and 20 feet. However, when he does get free looks from that area he's going to knock a fair percentage of them home. An elite athlete, DeRozan looked a bit better defensively than he has in the past. The real question is how strong his commitment to USC is at this point and by all indications he's pretty solid with the Trojans.
JaMychal Green - According to Green, North Carolina is recruiting him "a little bit." A long and wiry strong 6-8 power forward, Green's calling card continues to be his willingness to scrap in the lane. With his long arms and quickness off the floor he's a good straight up shot blocker and he always rebounds his area very well. Projecting to the college level though, Green needs to add more strength and become more of a threat to face up from 15 feet and hit jumpers or find teammates. You've got to appreciate his motor, but he's getting to the point where it will take more than just a good motor to make an impact at the highest level of college basketball.
Andrew Steele - Let the debate about whether Steele is a point guard, a two guard or a combo guard continue. Some scouts saw a patient leader who can make a few jumpers in Charlottesville, while others tagged him a natural scorer whose game suffers when he's in charge of running the team. He's got a nice frame, takes pretty good care of the ball and is a good defender so he can play the one or the two from that standpoint. However, for a point guard he only has average quickness and it's legitimate to question how consistently he'll be able to get around quicker guys to make plays in the lane.
2009 TARGETS AT NBPA
Derrick Favors - Much like Henry, Favors has a chance to compete for the top slot in the class of 2009. An aggressive and rugged guy on the inside, he's capable of playing a lot stronger than you would think given his long and relatively slender 220 pound or so frame. His preference is to lose defenders with a spin and he's a clever scorer inside of six feet thanks to his quickness, multitude of fakes and desire to find a way to put the ball in the hoop. Right now, his game is that of a back to the basket center and because he's probably closer to 6-8 than the 6-10 he's sometimes listed at, the next step for him is to polish up his face up skills and extend his range to 12 feet.
Xavier Henry - Before it's all said and done, Henry could lay claim to the top spot in the class of 2009. Early on in camp the 6-6 lefty totally dominated the action. He hit deep threes, scored around the hoop and used his much improved ball handling ability to free himself for mid-range opportunities. He's got the strength of a college player, above average athleticism and a very good feel for the game and how to score. While he seemed to coast a bit over the final day and a half, there isn't anybody who questions his overall talent and potential down the road.
Dominic Cheek - The 6-6 Cheek is as skinny as they come and the 180 he was listed at on the camp roster was probably stretching it a bit. He's an above average shooter, handles the ball well and has a nice feel for the game. Capable of getting to the rim, he does need to develop his left hand a bit more as he almost always finds a way to go back to his dominant right hand for finishes at the rim or a late dribble back to his right before launching a jumper. While he needs to get stronger and work some on that left hand, it's pretty hard to be too critical of his game considering his youth and the fact that he's growing quickly. If he continues to develop, Cheek could become a top 15, or better, prospect in the class of 2009.
Terrell Vinson - According to the 6-6 combo forward UNC has been in touch, so we'll go ahead and discuss him. A long, active and athletic young guy, Vinson plays with a lot of energy and sometimes gets a bit out of control. He really likes to put the ball on the floor and attack the rim where he can use his athleticism and length to his advantage. While he certainly has the athleticism and quickness to play the wing, Vinson's jump shooting and overall feel for the game need to improve in order for him to play the perimeter full time at a high level program in college. Right now, he's much more comfortable scoring around the hoop and in transition and didn't pose much of a threat outside of 12 feet in Charlottesville.
Shawn Williams - If you are a high level coach looking for a tall shooter in the class of 2009 then Williams needs to be on your list of guys to watch. The 6-6 wing from Texas has deep range on his soft jumper and the high release he has on his shot combined with a quick trigger make it difficult to keep him from getting a good look. Maybe even more importantly, Williams seems to understand that you don't need a bunch of flashy dribble moves to create space for shots. He's a master with simple shot fakes and moving in with a dribble for a clear look from 15 or 17 feet. Athletically he's a little above average but you couldn't put him into the high flyer category. He's at his best when he's mixing in a few jaunts to the hoop with his deep bombs.