The defection of center Robert Swift (Highland High in Bakersfield) to the
Adidas/ABCD Camp, and the loss of Top 10 player LaMarcus Aldridge (Segoville in
Dallas) to the stress fracture in a foot he suffered in the Global Games took
away what would have been two of its most high profile
But the Nike All-America Camp in Indianapolis had no shortage of quality basketball players, anyway, most notably at the guard and forward positions.
Here's a look at a very loosely defined "Top 50" players during the week, based on camp performance with a nod to potential sprinkled in, too:
Jefferson 6-8 250 Sr. PF/C Prentiss (Prentiss,
COMMENT: Too strong, too polished and too assertive for anyone in camp to deal with within 15 feet of the bucket, although Brian Johnson, D.J. White and Greg Oden gave it admirable efforts.
2. Rudy Gay 6-7 204 Sr. SF/PF Spaulding (Severn, MD)
COMMENT: What we surmised after the Bob Gibbons Memorial Day Weekend Tournament of Champions was confirmed in Indianapolis: At the very least, he's a Top 10 member of the Class of 2004.
3. Joe Crawford 6-3 190 Sr. SG Renaissance (Detroit)
COMMENT: After his performances in Indy and at the USA Basketball Youth Festival in Colorado Springs, we're ready to anoint him the premier "pure" shooting guard in the senior class. Athletically, he was head and shoulders (often, literally) above everyone else in camp.
4. Brian Johnson 6-8 238 Sr. PF Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, VA)
COMMENT: There isn't likely to be a grittier performance this month than the one he turned in all week despite being a bit wobbly from the strained ligaments in his right knee he suffered at the USA Basketball Trials a month and a half a go in Colorado Springs. Any talk of his being "overrated" should come to an end.
5. Daniel Gibson 6-2 198 Sr. PG Jones (Houston, TX)
COMMENT: He gets the narrowest of edges over Jordan Farmar as the best point guard during the week, and he is the primary threat to end the month as the No. 2 ranked PG in the country behind Shaun Livingston.
6. Jordan Farmar 6-2 171 Sr. PG Taft (Woodland Hills, CA)
COMMENT: So far he's looking like the most well-rounded prep point guard produced in Southern California in this decade/century. How's that for sweeping praise?
7. Malik Hairston 6-5 175 Sr. SF/SG Renaissance (Detroit)
COMMENT: Barring injury, both he and Joe Crawford should represent Renaissance quite well, thank you very much, in the 2004 McDonald's East-West All-America Game.
8. Richard Hendrix 6-7 250 Jr. PF Athens (Athens, AL)
COMMENT: By Thursday evening, no one was playing any better in camp than this guy was. Athletically, there are better players in the class of 2005; not so, though, when it comes to effort and position know-how.
9. Greg Oden 6-10 230 So. C Lawrence North (Indianapolis)
COMMENT: If you're into the wildest of fantasies, imagine this one, if you will: That he's playing college basketball in the winter of 2006. Only on or off the floor calamity is going to keep him from a long and prosperous hoops career. He's big, brigh, and athletically and basketball gifted. That's a nice combo.
10. D.J. White 6-7 233 Sr. PF Hillcrest (Tuscaloosa, AL)
COMMENT: He had a very nice tussle vs. Al Jefferson Tuesday morning in the 3-on-3 competition but then suffered a hairline fracture in his left thumb that kept him on the sidelines the rest of the week. If healthy all week, he would have been Top 5.
Price 6-0 172 Sr. PG Amityville (Amityville,
COMMENT: He could end the month ranked among the Top Five PGs in the country (Class of 2004) and deserves very serious McDonald's All-America consideration. And tell me he doesn't remind you of Jason Terry!
2. Greg Paulus 6-1 181 Jr. PG Christian Bros (Syracuse)
COMMENT: After our first exposure to Paulus, we'll concede that he's every bit as good as the hype. He was a close second to Richard Hendrix as the second most impressive junior in camp.
3. Ron Coleman 6-5 205 Sr. SF Romulus (Romulus, MI)
COMMENT: By Thursday night he was scoring as easily as anyone else in the camp. He should join Crawford and Hairston as Michigan McDonald's AA choices.
4. Louis Williams 6-2 180 Jr. SG South Gwinnett (Snelville, GA)
COMMENT: Here's the early nomination for the "best undersized shooting guard in the Class of 2005". They don't come much smoother.
5. Steve Hill 6-11 220 Sr. C Branson (Branson, MO)
COMMENT: He was the best shot blocker in the camp and, in fact, could be the best shot blocker in the Class of 2004 (yes, Dwight Howard and Robert Swift included).
6. Corey Brewer 6-7 174 Sr. SF Portland (Portland, TN)
COMMENT: Once his ability to rebound and defend catch up with his polished scoring skill, this future Florida Gator isn't going to have many peers in the SEC.
7. Ron Steele 6-2 185 Sr. PG Carroll (Birmingham, AL)
COMMENT: Someone obviously has given him some very solid lessons in the fine art of point guard play along the way.
8. Matt Terwilliger 6-9 216 Sr. PF Troy (Troy, OH)
COMMENT: Twenty-five pounds and two years from now, Ohio State could have the Big Ten's best power forward with this fellow.
9. Mohamed Tangara 6-9 223 Sr. PF/C Mt. Zion (Durham, NC)
COMMENT: He lacks the offensive skills, but not the strength, explosiveness and determination, of Al Jefferson, D.J. White and Brian Johnson.
10. Josh Shipp 6-5 201 Sr. SF/SG Fairfax (Los Angeles)
COMMENT: Based in pre-Indy hype, he was among the four or five most surprisingly effective performers during the week. He's a better prospect at the same stage than was brother Joe (All-Pac-10 for Cal last season).
Williams 6-8 200 Sr. SF Hamilton
COMMENT: He looked like a Top 10 player in camp on Monday night and most of Tuesday before tampering off just a tad the rest of the week.
2. Tyler Hansborough 6-8 204 Jr. PF Poplar Bluff (Poplar Bluff, MO)
COMMENT: He may not have dunked every shot he took within 10 feet of the basket but he sure gave it the old vertical effort. He could be the No. 1 prospect in the Midwest a year from now.
3. Maarty Leunen 6-8 200 Sr. PF/SF Redmond (Redmond, OR)
COMMENT: He does so many things so well, and with (at times) such subtly that an extended look at him is needed to realize just how good he is. And we've had that extended look, thanks to Nike and the Youth Festival.
4. JamesOn Curry 6-2 171 Sr. SG/PG Eastern Alamance (Mebane, NC)
COMMENT: He played (and shot) much more efficiently than he did in Colorado Springs the week before.
5. Charles Rhodes 6-8 215 Sr. PF Lanier (Jackson, MS)
COMMENT: No one played harder or rebounded better (well, I take that back; Al Jefferson did the latter) than did this future Mississippi State Bulldog. He's among the most underrated players in the Class of 2004.
6. Curtis Kelley 6-9 200 So. PF Rice (Manhattan, NY)
COMMENT: His offense still needs a bit of polish and he has a ways to go, strength wise. But, is this lefty looooooooong or what?
7. Derrick Caracter 6-8 287 So. C/PF Scotch Plains (Fanwood, NJ)
COMMENT: A very, very good prospect but he isn't quite the wunderkind most were calling him at the Nike Camp a year earlier.
8. Spencer Tollackson 6-9 256 Sr. C/PF Chaska (Chaska, MN)
COMMENT: He may have been called for traveling 27 times during the week but this future Minnesota Gopher knows a thing or two or three or four about getting position and scoring in the paint.
9. Martell Webster 6-6 215 Jr. SF/SG Seattle Prep (Seattle)
COMMENT: Until someone else rears his head (or jump shot), Webster is a way-too-obvious choice as the No. 1 junior in the West right now.
10. Davis Nwankwo 6-9 236 Sr. PF/C Georgetown Prep (Washington, DC)
COMMENT: There's nothing flashy or dazzling about the way he gets things done down low at both ends of the floor. But he gets them done with great frequency anyway.
Wright 6-6 230 Sr. PF Fowler (Syracuse,
COMMENT: He reminds us of former USC star Sam Clancy, minus the ex-Trojans' jump shot but with much better ball skills.
2. Channing Toney 6-3 186 Sr. SG Brookwood (Snellville, GA)
COMMENT: He scores it about as well, and in as many ways, as did pop Andrew Toney.
3. Dion Dowell 6-5 184 Sr. SF Texas City (Texas City, TX)
COMMENT: We're not sure about his future as a guard in Austin but he'll arrive in college with plenty of baseline savvy, that's for sure.
4. Luke Zeller 6-10 215 Jr. C Washington (Washington, IN)
COMMENT: He appeared to play better than did another touted Indiana junior (Josh McRoberts of Carmel).
5. Jason Rich 6-2 183 Sr. SF Phillips (Orlando, FL)
COMMENT: He's a lot like Joe Crawford in many ways. And that's not exactly a back-handed compliment, either.
6. Eric Vierneisel 6-6 196 Sr. SF Jacobs (Algonquin, IL)
COMMENT: Kudos should be tossed Ben Braun's way for getting him to commit to Cal and not to any number of Big Ten schools that would have loved signing him in November.
7. Marquise Gray 6-7 203 Sr. PF Beecher (Flint, MI)
COMMENT: This lefty may have had more dunks than anyone during the week. We look forward to the moment we see him knock in some jump shoots, too.
8. Kalen Grimes 6-7 264 Sr. PF/C Hazelwood Central (St. Louis, MO)
COMMENT: He'll need more offensive polish and variety if he's going to be a double-figure scorer on the college level.
9. Darnell Jackson 6-7 230 Sr. PF Midwest City (Midwest City, OK)
COMMENT: He doesn't appear to be a "scorer" but he earned him self plenty of scoring opportunities courtesy his effort and rebounding prowess in camp.
10. A.J. Ratliff 6-1 180 Sr. SG/PG North Central (Indianapolis)
COMMENT: Is he a point or is he an off guard? That's a toughie. He could flourish at either position in college, though.
1. Jawann McClellan 6-4 202 Sr. SG Milby (Houston, TX)
COMMENT: We still haven't seen him play as well (including at Colorado Springs) as most say he played earlier in the spring and summer.
2. Rob Kurz 6-9 207 Sr. PF Penn Charter (Philadelphia)
COMMENT: He'll need another 25 pounds or so before he can become a fully effective inside presence (for Notre Dame) in the Big East Conference.
3. Marques Johnson 6-4 170 So. SF Snider (Ft. Wayne, IN)
COMMENT: He was a late addition to the camp roster and he made the most of the opportunity. Pencil him onto your Top 10 for the Class of 2006 lists.
4. Will Daniels 6-6 203 Sr. SF Roosevelt (Hyde Park, NY)
COMMENT: We hadn't heard of him prior to Nike week. We know all about him now, though. He's good!
5. Monta Ellis 6-2 170 Jr. SG Lanier (Jackson, MS)
COMMENT: He came into the camp rated ahead of Louis Williams (as a shooting guard) on many Class of 2005 lists. He just didn't jump shoot the ball with enough consistency to merit that status now, though.
6. Antonio Kellogg 6-1 180 Sr. PG/SG McClymonds (Oakland, CA)
COMMENT: OK, now we realize what all of the spring hype from the Prep West Hoops gentlemen was about on this guy. He's going to score a lot of points and have a lot of assists for a college team one day.
7. Al Horford 6-8 211 Sr. PF Grand Ledge (Lansing, MI)
COMMENT: He's not exactly on the same level as a power forward prospect that the likes of Al Jefferson, Brian Johnson and D.J. White are. But that's nothing to hang a head over. He'll have a hefty selection of scholarship offers to choose from.
8. Julian Wright 6-7 197 Jr. SF Homewood Flossmoor (Floosmoor, IL)
COMMENT: He tried to do a little bit too much (handling and shooting) at times but there is no way to soft sell the talent he's lugging around.
9. Zam Frederick 6-0 216 Sr. SG Calhoun County (St. Matthews, SC)
COMMENT: He's a nice working definition of what people are talking about when they describe "undersized scoring guards".
10. Matt Salley 6-7 194 Sr. SF North Mecklenburg (Charlotte, NC)
COMMENT: He gets the slight nod over another gifted small forward from North Carolina (Jason Thompson of Chatham Central in Bear Creek) for spot