Advanced Skills Camp Notes

Here are some of the things we heard at UCLA's Advanced Skills Camp over the last couple of days, and also observations of players currently on the roster and some of the memorable moments of the camp, including NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West addressing the campers...

UCLA's Advance Skills Camp took place Sunday and Monday and, in addition to a great deal of young talent on display, there were some eventful moments.

Probably the most memorable was Jerry West, the NBA Hall of Famer, addressing the campers on Monday. West talked off the cuff about the mechanics of shooting, particularly emphasizing footwork and balance.

West also spoke about the obsessive hard work he put in, going way back to when he was growing up in the small West Virginia town. He said the best moment of his career was winning the gold medal at the 1960 Olympics.

I don't know initially if many of the campers realized who West was, until Ben Howland pointed out that his likeness is the NBA logo. It seemed the campers then paid a little more attention.

When asked who he thought was the best player of all time, West said he believed it was Michael Jordan.

When Arron Afflalo, UCLA's former star guard and current member of the Detroit Pistons, spoke to the campers, he also emphasized how hard work separates the successful players from the unsuccessful ones. When asked about the practice regimen in the NBA, Afflalo said, given the rugged game schedule during the season, the team simply doesn't practice much together, and that it's really up to the player to put in the work to improve individually. He was nostalgic for the college days, when each game, he said, meant a great deal, and the amount of time Coach Howland and the team spent preparing.

Incoming freshman forward, Reeeves Nelson, didn't participate in the camp due to a back injury.

Very noteworthy was Shabazz Muhammad, the 6-3 shooting guard from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman, easily one of the most promising prospects in the class of 2012 in the west, being on hand to watch Monday. He sat out due to a minor injury.

Given the camp performances, it's not too difficult to surmise that the best candidates for a UCLA scholarship offer are 2011 post Angelo Chol, from San Diego (Calif.) Hoover, and 2012 wing Xavier Johnson, from Temecula (Calif.) Chaparral. Guys who also have a real chance would be Gelaun Wheelwright, the 6-0 guard from Corona Centennial and, looking further down the line, Eric Cooper, Jr., the 2013 6-1 guard from La Verne (Calif.) Lutheran.

Among the current Bruins, it's been noted on our message board after we put up the first picture of J'mison Morgan, how he's improved physically. He definitely looks slimmer, and moved better. Jerime Anderson looked bigger in the arms and shoulders, and showed a continuing-to-improve athleticism. His quickness and jumping ability were very impressive. Speaking of quickness, Malcolm Lee has loads of it, and he continues to get bigger in the shoulders and chest. Howland told the campers that he expects Lee to be among the best defenders in the nation next season. As we said, James Keefe is down to about 228 to 230, approximately 10 pounds lighter than he was last season. Nikola Dragovic looked leaner, and moved better, and was throwing down aggressive dunks. Drew Gordon told us he suffered just a slight injury to his patellar tendon, and he believes he'll be cleared to play by next week.

Howland had a film session with the campers, where he broke down different aspects of the game, using highlights from the last two Bruin seasons. The highlights drew many oohs and ahhs.

We've heard that Josh Shipp has an offer to play in Italy for a respectable amount of money.

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