UCLA Perspective on Nike Camp

There isn't much, since there are so few UCLA prospects in Indianapolis for the Nike All-American Camp, but there is Spencer Hawes, Jamie Vanderbeken and junior Chace Stanback...

There isn't much to write about in terms of UCLA recruits at the Nike Camp, since there are really only three who are playing.

Regarding the one not playing – 6-8 junior Kyle Singler from Medford (Ore.) South Medford had an MRI done on his injured knee to discover a slight meniscus tear. He said he expected to be out 4-6 weeks.

The #6-ranked player in the 2007 class is expected to undergo surgery on Tuesday.

Spencer Hawes, the 6-11 senior center from Seattle (Wash.) Prep, has played exceptionally well here, probably being the best all-around center at the camp. He's one of the most talented offensive post players to come out of high school in recent years, with a great, natural feel and footwork. He can go to a left-handed jump hook, a drop step, a quick go-to right-handed jump hook and so much more, with fluidity and quickness. But it doesn't stop there – he plays his ass off on both sides of the floor, rebounding, blocking shots, providing help defense, etc. You can tell not only is he athletically talented, but very intelligent, having scored around a 1300 on his SAT (the old style test). Whatever college does get Hawes should send a bouquet of flowers to the NBA for passing the new age requirement rule because he'd be a pretty certain candidate for going pro right out of high school, and a very good bet to be one-and-done wherever he goes to college.

There was a hyped showdown Friday between Hawes and Kevin Durant, 6-9 senior power forward from Mouth of Wilson (Virg.) Oak Hill and a top ten national player. They only matched up a few times, and both had their moments, but Hawes definitely showed he's the better, more-skilled basketball player.

Jamie Vanderbeken, 6-10 senior center, Belleville (Ont., Canada) Quinte, is intriguing. He's very skilled, easily the second-most skilled center on UCLA's list behind Hawes. He can hit threes, put the ball on the floor, and is a very exceptional passer, hitting cutters and throwing down to the low post with great skill. He's also athletic, going up and throwing down a dunk from a flat-footed stance, running well and moving well laterally. Vanderbeken, though, hasn't really shown well here, since he's floating outside behind the three arc, waiting for a pass, while the game has mostly passed him by – literally. In the 3-on-3s, when you get more touches, he again showed some skills, but also showed that he's a bit soft, still not posting up and not putting in the effort to defend big opposing post men. You might have to cut him some slack, since I'm sure he hasn't faced too many players in Canada that he's facing every few seconds here at the Nike Camp, and is probably a bit overwhelmed.

How Vanderbeken could fit into UCLA's roster is interesting, though. He's actually more of a four than a five, with his ability to face the basket, pass the ball and put it on the floor. So, if you consider that UCLA really now has a pretty stacked stable of fives in Lorenzo Mata, Ryan Wright and Alfred Aboya for the next few years, Vanderbeken might fit in as a four. UCLA is really looking for that big, 6-10+ true-five type, but he really doesn't exist, besides Spencer Hawes. So, maybe Vanderbeken is he next best thing, at the four.

It's unknown if UCLA will continue to recruit Vanderbeken, however, based on this performance at Nike. Head Coach Ben Howland did watch him play Wednesday and Thursday, intermittently, in between watching Hawes, since Hawes and Vanderbeken always played at the same time. Assistant Donnie Daniels arrives in Indianapolis today.

Chace Stanback, 6-5 JR SG, Los Angeles (Calif.) Fairfax, had a good and bad day Friday in Indy. In the five-on-five league games, he didn't play particularly well. He attempted the right things – taking the right shots and looking for the right feeds, but didn't execute them successfully enough. But in the 3-on-3s, Stanback was stellar. With more space and more touches, he dominated – taking defenders off the dribble, passing the ball with flair, rebounding and shooting. He's stronger than his skinny frame belies, and he's definitely quicker than he looks, since he's one of those smooth, fluid types. He does have a good, quick first step, and can stay with smaller, seemingly quicker players on defense. He looks like he's still a baby and will undoubtedly continue to mature physically, which gives him a tremendous amount of upside.

The playoffs are today, and the all-star games. It's the first year since 1997 that the Nike Camp has had all-star games, not since Baron Davis, Elton Brand, Ron Artest, Chris Burgess and Schea Cotton played.


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