ABCD Report - Day One

Corey Stokes's handling of Earl Clark, Paul Harris' evening session explosion and OJ Mayo's all-around dominance were some of the highlights of the first day of the ABCD Camp in Teaneck, New Jersey. UConnfan.com files this report on those players and more.

Herb Pope - Probably the best player on the court during his first session game; pretty impressive considering that he was sharing that court with 2006's #9 player, Paul Harris. Pope is an athletic and quick forward who did most of his scoring around the rim on put backs and the like. He did have a couple of decent post moves that led to scores and he was an active defender blocking shots and stealing the basketball. He's a top 15 prospect in the class of 2007 and he has offered an early commitment to Pittsburgh.

 

Paul Harris - Harris got off to a slow start and was outplayed by Pope in his first session game. In the evening game, Harris was matched up against 6'5", 190 pound Devan Bawinkel – I would be surprised if Bawinkel didn't have nightmares about Harris. Harris went over, around and through Bawinkel at every opportunity. Harris is a monster of a guard – he's 6'4" and looks to be about 230 pounds of muscle. Though not a burner, he has an excellent first step and is a terrific ball-handler – his strength makes him a pure mismatch for most guards assigned to check him and his first step is likely more than most forwards will be able to defend.

 

Corey Stokes - Stokes had a very nice first day of camp. In his early game, he scored 23 points on 9-15 shooting with several long threes. In the evening, he handily outplayed top 20 Earl Clark. Clark had trouble keeping Stokes from the bucket and wound up sending him to the line for a couple of conventional three point plays. Stokes is a pure scorer – a legitimate deep shooter and athletic and strong enough to put the ball on the floor and score in traffic. He's also an active defender – clearly, a top player in the class of 2007. UConn reportedly leads for his services.

 

OJ Mayo - Mayo gave a list of schools after the early session – both UConn and Syracuse made the cut. However, will he ever play college ball or will he sign a sneaker deal and take a prep year instead? That will become more of a question next year. What is not in question is the kid's ability – if there is a better player in high school basketball, I haven't seen him. What Mayo does well – everything. What he doesn't do well – nothing. He hits threes from the elbow effortlessly, throws nearly perfect outlet passes, etc.

 

In the evening session, he was matched up against Lance Stephenson, a rising freshman phenom from Brooklyn. Stephenson had a large, loud group of people down to support him and he basically held his own against Mayo until near the end of the first half. Mayo hit a three over Stephenson and then stole the ball from him on the other end – he stuck another three and then shouted a couple of colorful words at Stephenson's crowd. Interesting.

 

Bill Walker- Walker is Mayo's high school running mate and they're teamed up here as well. Basically, this camp looks designed to get Mayo's team into a final game against Greg Oden. Both teams are simply loaded.

 

Walker is as entertaining a player as you're going to see. Gravity and laws of normal behavior do not always apply to Bill Walker. One Big East assistant called Walker "the greatest high school dunker I have ever seen" – I can't argue with him. He is the gold standard for superior athletes and he's probably also the gold standard for players barely in control of their emotions. During his evening session game, he followed a hellacious tomahawk dunk with what looked to be a nice open-field tackle on one of the opposing guards. The technical foul that resulted seem to take Walker by surprise and he was fairly open about his disagreement with the call.

 

Alex Stepheson - Stephenson is listing UConn as one of his possible destinations. Stepheson is a good looking forward prospect. He was almost killed by Greg Oden when Oden dunked a ball that caromed off of his head after going through the rim – Stepheson came right back at Oden on the next trip and drew a foul when he returned the favor and tried to dunk on Oden. He's competitive and he did a sound job of defending Oden on several occasions.

 

Greg Oden - Is he the number one player in the class of 2006? Maybe, but he definitely has a few flaws. There is no questioning his ability on defense – he is a superior defensive player and he has the ability to erase drives to the basket with Okafor-like ease. Ohio State's guards would be well advised to funnel the opponents' offense into the lane just as UConn did with Okafor – let the big man clean things up in there. Oden is an accomplished shot blocker and he looks to have added a bit of muscle over the past year – he can have a long pro career on his defense alone.

 

Where he's lacking is on offense. He's not comfortable receiving the ball without a clear path to the basket. His post moves are raw and he seems reluctant to use them – if he receives the ball a couple of feet outside his comfort zone or if he senses that the defender has good position, he'll likely opt to pass the ball back out. He has time, but it's clearly an area where he has to become more comfortable with his ability.

 

Brandon Jennings - Jennings is a very competitive, very slight and very talented point in the class of 2008. He's teamed with Corey Stokes and both of them need the ball to be effective which makes for a front court that will become a little ball-starved at times. Jennings is young and makes some mental mistakes as a result, but he's clearly very talented. Good ballhandler with a nice, if streaky, outside shot – the lefty seems to have a little trouble if he's forced to use his right hand.

 

Odds and ends

 

Coaches in attendance – Bill Self, Louis Orr, Rick Pitino, Thad Matta, Tom Pecora. UConn had Andre LaFleur and Mike Hopkins represented Syracuse. Jim Beoheim and a bushel of other coaches arrive Thursday. I will have some additions to my "Coaches I Can Beat Up" list later in the week.

 

Chasing Sonny - For some reason, Reebok opted to put the media check in station outside. Whoever manned the station decided that sitting outside in a monsoon was not in her job description so she left. I went inside to ask where I could check in and was told by two cheerful women that I could check in upstairs. There was no one upstairs so, frustrated, I went in search of anyone bearing a Reebok shirt to help.

 

The first guy I found was Sonny Vaccaro. He interrupted an interview he was doing and took off like a bat out of hell looking for my credential.

 

I had the experience of trying to keep up with Vaccaro as he zipped through FDU's Rothman Center. In the spirit of player analysis, I offer a review on Vaccaro's abilities - for an older fellow, Vaccaro has an excellent turn of foot. He is a nimble stair climber and he takes corners flat out. His straight line speed is average, but he makes up for it with his agility through the turns.

 

It's gotta be the shoes.


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