ABCD Camp: Day 1 Notebook
HACKENSACK, N.J. – Considering last year's ABCD Camp featured seven guys who went onto become first-round picks in last month's NBA Draft, it would be hard to top the excitement of a year ago.
But as the Reebok ABCD Camp got underway Thursday in New Jersey, it's obvious this year's camp won't be hurting for star players.
In fact, on the camp's first day, Denham Springs High (La.) senior forward Tasmin Mitchell, Lawrence North High (Ind.) junior center Greg Oden and North College Hill (Ohio) sophomore guard OJ Mayo all made their best cases for why they should be considered the top players in their respective classes.
Mitchell, a 6-foot-8, 235-pound beast, looked every bit like the best player in the Class of 2005 as he tallied 24 points (on 9-for-11 shooting) and five rebounds in his first game on Thursday. There was nobody on the court who could compete with his size, strength and tenaciousness around the basket. He looked like a player with something to prove.
Oden, a 7-foot, 245-pound mountain who is a striking physical presence on the floor, looks like a man among boys at ABCD and did nothing to hurt his stock as the best player in the Class of 2006. In his first game, Oden put up a solid 10 points and five rebounds but dominated with his defensive presence. It's not a stretch to say that with Oden's shot-blocking ability and size, nobody will score inside on him all week. He's that intimidating. Let's just say the talk about him being the potential No. 1 pick in the 2006 NBA Draft isn't just hype.
Mayo, a 6-foot-5, 198-pound two-guard, looked as smooth and confident as any player in the camp, compiling 15 points, eight assists and four rebounds in his first game. Last year as an incoming freshman, Mayo was solid but unspectacular at ABCD. This year, he looks like he's ready to take over as one of the nation's best players. It's amazing that this kid is only Class of 2007.
"I just want to play hard and see how my game has progressed," said Mayo. "Hopefully my game is getting better and better. I want to be the hardest worker out here."
Other Day 1 Standouts:
Daequan Cook (Class of 2006): This 6-foot-5 junior shooting guard from Dunbar High (Ohio) is playing on the same team as Oden and almost managed to steal the show in his first game on Thursday, with 18 points on 6-for-6 shooting. He's a smooth player who looks ready to explode big time.
Derrick Caracter (Class of 2006): The 6-foot-9, 280-pound monster, who says he's transferring back to St. Patrick's (N.J.) for his junior season after spending his sophomore year at Scotch Plains-Fanwood (N.J.), would be the No. 1 player in the Class of 2006 if not for Oden. But with dominating size, good mobility, solid range on his jumper and excellent passing skills, Caracter has nothing to be ashamed of.
Dior Lowhorn (Class of 2005): Lowhorn, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound forward out of Berkeley High (Calif.), was one of the leading rebounders at last year's camp and started this year strong with 20 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in his first game on Thursday.
ABCD Day 1 News & Notes:
Oak Hill Academy (Va.) 6-foot-3 senior combo guard Eric Devendorf committed to Syracuse on Thursday at ABCD. Considered a top 20 recruit in the Class of 2005, Devendorf picked the 'Cuse over Florida and Michigan State, to whom he de-committed last year. "Syracuse just seemed to fit me more," he said. "They like to get up and down." …
After spending the past two years at the Nike All-America Camp, Caracter switched this year to Reebok's ABCD Camp. But there's a simple explanation, according to Caracter: The Jersey native's uncle recently had a baby but still wanted to see him play, so Caracter decided to stay local instead of traveling to Indianapolis. "My uncle comes before them," Caracter said. …
Two high-profile Class of 2005 players — center Andray Blatche and point guard Andre McGee — injured their ankles during Thursday's action, but both players returned to their games and appeared fine.
Notes from Nike:
Our Nike All-America Camp correspondent, Jon Mahoney, checked in from Indianapolis and said the following players were especially impressive on Thursday at Nike: South Gwinnett (Ga.) guard Louis Williams, Poplar Bluff (Mo.) power forward Tyler Hansbrough, Athens (Ala.) power forward Richard Hendrix and Carmel (Ind.) power forward Josh McRoberts.
Apparently unlike last year, when he relied too heavily on his jumper, Williams is taking the ball hard to the rack and dunking on people. Not bad for a 6-foot-2 guy.
Notes from adidas:
Our adidas Superstar Camp correspondent, Ben Sylvan, checked in from Georgia and said the following players were especially impressive on Thursday at adidas: Chinese small forward Yi Li, Texas shooting guard Rashad Woods, Texas forward Gary Flowers and Florida forward Michael Beasley.
Li, a 6-foot-7, 180-pound forward in the Class of 2006, was among the most impressive players at adidas on Thursday, tallying 17 points and eight boards in his first game.
Beasley, a 6-foot-9, 220-pounder out of IMG Academy, could be the best player in the Class of 2008.