SUWANEE, Ga. – In the best of possible worlds, I would stay for the entirety of the adidas Superstar Camp, wrapping up things by watching its Wallace Prather Jr. Memorial All-Star games Friday night at Northview High in Duluth, and then offer you a Top 30 players list for the camp that I would feel bordered on the definitive.
Unfortunately, this is not one of those worlds . . .
Instead, the Top 30 you're getting out of me is based on three sessions (Tuesday night, and Wednesday afternoon and evening) of 33 games, maybe half of those of which I watched enough of to get a fairly comfortable feel for what went on during the hour or so it took to play them.
To dip into the Cliché Bank, no one is claiming that this stuff is anything close to being an "exact" science.
OK, so with the appropriate disclaimer issued, let's get this out of the way. When I catch a lot of these guys again in a few weeks in Las Vegas during the adidas Super 64 Tournament, something tells me I'll be slapping my forehead and doing some radical revamping:
Class of 2006
*Wayne Ellington (Lower Merion, Pa., Episcopal Academy). Let's deal with this guy quickly: He's easily the most skilled and polished player in the camp. The 6-4 future Tar Heel will make a big dent into the playing time of some veterans in Chapel Hill in 2006-07.
*Brook Lopez (Fresno, Ca., San Joaquin Memorial). This half of the soon-to-be best set of twins since a couple of other big siblings (Jarron and Jason Collins) went to Stanford was as dominant in the frontcourt as Ellington was in the backcourt.
*Thaddeus Young (Memphis, Tenn., Mitchell). One of the five best scorers in the camp, the 6-8 lefty is so proficient with his mid to deep jump shot that he rarely had to show off his slick ball-handling skills to get himself into position to score.
*Stanley Robinson (Birmingham, Ala., Huffman). The 6-8 forward seems much more assertive and polished than he was just a few weeks ago in San Diego, Calif., for the USA Basketball Youth Festival. He's closing in on solid Top 20 Class of 2006 status.
*Javaris Crittenton (Atlanta, Ga., Southwest Atlanta Christian). He's still much more of a "scorer" than "true point guard". But Paul Hewitt isn't nit picking because he's good enough to get immediate major minutes as a Georgia Tech freshman two seasons hence.
*Gerald Henderson (Lower Merion, Pa., Episcopal Academy). The evolution of his jump shot is what will play a large role in dictating his ultimate basketball success at Duke. But he sure had no problems getting to the rim and scoring against this competition.
*James Keefe (Rancho Santa Margarita, Ca., Santa Margarita). His jump shot is still an off- and on-thing but he can guard in the post or on the perimeter and outruns all but a handful of frontcourt players.
*Marreese Speights (St. Petersburg, Fla., Farragut). He doesn't have the variety of ways to score that Brook Lopez does but this future Florida Gator was nearly as dominant a low-post presence at both ends of the floor.
*Kodi Augustus (Missouri, Texas, Willowridge). One of the surprises of the camp, the 6-9 transfer from Baton Rouge, La., who had his own cheerleader watching his game in Houston traveling team coach John Eurey, knocked in deep jumpers and drove by startled defenders for emphatic dunks.
*Osiris Eldridge (Chicago, Ill., Phillips). He looked like a solid candidate for the "best backcourt scorer in camp other than Wayne Ellington" trophy.
*Robin Lopez (Fresno, Ca., San Joaquin Memorial). Doesn't it almost seem unfair that one high school team could have two 6-11ish players like this school in Central California possesses? Amazing.
*Quincy Pondexter (Fresno, Ca., San Joaquin Memorial). OK, I'm ready to see a list of candidates of high schools with frontcourts that can rival San Joaquin Memorial's. Pondexter plays a little too fast at times but there are few players in camp with his quickness (at his 6-7 size), horizontally or vertically.
*D.J. Augustin (New Orleans, La., Brother Martin). Played in the same backcourt with Ellington. You tend to pick up a lot of assists that way.
*Kraidon Woods (Swiftwater, Pa., Pocono Mountain East). Still lacking in strength, the 6-9 forward played hard at both ends of the floor and had more offensive skill than I initially believed. He's on my short list of "most pleasant surprises" in the camp.
*Jawann Carter (Wilmington, Del., The Tatnall School). One of a bunch of point guards (including Augustin) that was hard to separate. About as quick as they came here but always played on balance.
*Kevin White (Brooklyn, N.Y., Lincoln). I thought he was the quickest guy I saw Tuesday night and he was definitely the quickest (and close to the slicked) point guard I saw Wednesday.
*Corey Bingham (Lynn, Mass., Lynn Tech). A nice combo guard who still needs to refine his playmaking skills but also had one of the quickest releases (with a lot of range) on his jumper.
*Marcus Lawrence (Las Vegas, Nev., Gorman). He came into the camp rated the No. 1 point guard in the West Class of 2006 by Greg Hicks of Scout.com and looked every bit that, especially during a scintillating performance Wednesday night.
*Doneal Mack (Charlotte, N.C., Statesville Christian). A little bit undersized as a two guard (at about 6-3) but he has a variety of ways to score, in transition or in half-court settings.
*Jon Han (Laurinburg, N.C., Laurinburg Prep). The slender left-handed point guard from Brooklyn looks like he needs to pound some protein drinks but he's sneaky quick with a dependable jump shot.
*Louis Guzman (Paramus, N.J., Paramus Catholic). He is very strong with the ball, either on the dribble or while taking the ball into traffic to score or dish to teammates.
*Mitchell Carter (Milwaukee, Wis., Rufus King). He's listed at 7-foot (and seems at least close to it) and looks all of his listed 285 pounds. So we'll forgive him if his offense seems a bit mechanical right now.
Class of 2007
*Michael Beasley (Mouth of Wilson, Va., Oak Hill Academy). The 6-8 lefty can get his shot – either from the perimeter, on the drive or in post-up situations – so easily. He needs to avoid "settling" for deep jumpers or awkward drives (he threw up several off-balance right-handed attempts Wednesday night) when a much higher percentage attempt might be just one or two more passes away. He's clearly one of the four or five best prospects in the national junior class.
*Eric Gordon (Indianapolis, Ind., North Central). His offensive game, via the jump shot or drive-and-slam, is extremely tight and explosive. He's more scorer than point guard right now.
*Nolan Smith (Mouth of Wilson, Va., Oak Hill Academy). Offensively, he's very complete and does everything on that end of the floor with a minimum of muss or fuss.
*Brandon Walters (Brooklyn, N.Y., Lincoln). He's long (he looks a legit 6-10), lean, quick and active. He needs more strength and low-post polish but he can never be accused of a lack of effort at both ends of the court.
*Bryan Bouchie (Washington, Ind., Washington). The definitive "knows how to play" kind of guy. The 6-8 combo forward scored easily in traffic and had better-than-you-initially-assume perimeter skills.
*Julian Vaughn (Reston, Va., South Lakes). The 6-9 forward is so smooth than you almost forget he's on the court at times. The key word is "almost", though.
Class of 2008
*Korie Lucious (Milwaukee, Wis., Rufus King). He probably had the tightest and slickest handle in the camp. He was definitely as good as his considerable pre-camp hype portrayed him.
*Larry Drew Jr. (Woodland Hills, Ca., Taft). He demonstrated what everyone who's watched him in Southern California already believed: He's easily among the elite point guards in this class.
Elected to the USBWA Hall of Fame in April, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's National Basketball Expert and also covers college basketball for the Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Burlison's pieces at www.frankhoops.com