It's a great opportunity for the high schools to compete and challenge themselves against other good competition, and it's a major chance for Xavier to show off its campus and facilities to some of the top local prospects.
This year's camp had some big names on the Xavier recruiting front, including 2014 commitment Edmond Sumner. Here were some of the top story lines from the event:
Sumner Enjoys the Rims at Cintas
The biggest name in the camp was clearly 2014 Xavier commitment Edmond Sumner.
Many have continuously talked about Sumner's growth spurt that he's hit over the course of the last year, citing that he was a legit 6-3, if not 6-4, now. After seeing him at about 6-foot last year, this was the most interesting part of the weekend for me. And I have to say that all reports were correct, he is at least 6-3, if not 6-4.
Naturally, comparisons to Semaj Christon are going to be unavoidable when you consider the time at which he's entering the program and other similarities, including size. This weekend showed that, really, there are a fair amount of commonalities between the two.
Sumner has been labeled as a combo, but I think it's safe to look at him as the point guard of the future right now. This weekend it was clear that he's at his best when he has the ball in his hands and is running the show. He was a little timid off the ball when playing on the wing, but with the ball he was a problem for opposing defenses. Similar to Christon, he has a lot of wiggle in his game when it comes to his handle. He destroyed a heap of ankles over the two day period, while using his hesitations and crossovers that allowed him to get into the lane with ease. He still has room to work on his finishing when going to the basket, but his 3-point shot was "on" all weekend. He took advantage of just about every open look he got from the perimeter, though I would have liked to have seen him force the issue and shoot a little more often.
The most impressive part of his game was his passing. This may remind fans of Christon more than anything, as he is constantly shaking a defender with his handle, only to step back and fire a no-look one-handed passes to a cutting teammate on the baseline. He really possesses great vision, and when combined with his ball-handling and scoring ability it makes him a very difficult match-up for the defense.
Overall, I'd say that it was a pretty good weekend for Sumner. I've seen him play better, but he definitely showed why Xavier was excited to land his commitment to get the 2014 class rolling. As far as the Christon comparisons, they'll continue to be made and they are somewhat warranted. While Sumner is athletic and quick, he doesn't have quite the same elite speed and explosion that Christon had as an incoming prospect. On the other hand, Sumner is a much better outside shooter than Christon was coming into Xavier. Those are the biggest differences between the two.
2015 Point Guard Battle
The camp started off with a big-time match-up. Dayton Dunbar and Covington Holmes tipped it up on the Cintas Center's main court to get play underway on Saturday, which pitted two 2015 point guards with Xavier interest, A.J. Harris and James Bolden, head-to-head against each other.
Harris and Dunbar came away with a close win, and the head-to-head match-up didn't tell us much more about the two prospects.
Bolden and Harris are both diminutive in size, but are known for being big scorers. Bolden relies on his quickness and skill, while Harris relies on his speed and explosion. And the game pretty much told us what we already knew about both players.
Bolden impressed by hitting some long threes with his quick release off the dribble, and by using his shifty handle to get past defenders and score at the rim. Harris made plays in transition, used his first step to blow by guys off the dribble and scored off of floaters and other shots in the lane. Both players made some great passes, with Harris showing a particular skill in advancing the ball up the floor in transition, while Bolden impressed with some flashy passes in traffic in the half court. Both players struggled to stop each other on the defensive end.
Both of these guys are intriguing prospects in the 2015 class. They each have a unique combination of skills and physical tools that allows them to be successful despite their height. Both had pretty good weekends at the camp, and unfortunately, the head-to-head match-up didn't do a whole lot to separate the two, as they each had their moments on offense. Bolden has offers from Xavier and Purdue, while Harris has an offer from Dayton.
The most impressive player at the camp may very well have been Detroit forward Justin Tillman.
Tillman is a prospect that has been on the Xavier staff's radar for a long time, and he has steadily made strides in his game since I've been evaluating him over the last few years. He's been compared to Travis Taylor, and that actually gives a pretty accurate depiction of his game. He's 6-foot-7, plays with a high-motor, and can be dominant on the glass. I think he's also a little more explosive around the rim than Taylor was, and that's saying something.
Tillman played with a high-motor for the duration of the weekend, and really did a good job of going and getting the ball out of area while rebounding. He has really long arms, which, when combined with his athleticism, gives him a large rebounding radius. He also threw down a couple of monstrous oops. The most impressive play he made at camp though was a jumper. He caught the ball about 8-10 feet away from the rim on the baseline and gave him a quick step-back move before burying a 14-footer. It was a very smooth move, and one that he hasn't shown much of consistently on the AAU circuit.
Tillman has continued to progress steadily as a prospect since I first began evaluating him, and this weekend I came away more impressed than ever. He's gone from a skinny 6-7 kid with long arms, to a wider forward with a strong upper body. He's got great athleticism to make those momentum plays (blocks/dunks)around the rim on either end, and he's very productive on the glass. A forward might not be the biggest need in the 2014 class right now, but keep an eye on the big man from Detroit.