ABCD Camp: Day 3 Notebook
HACKENSACK, N.J. – During the first two days of the Reebok ABCD Camp in New Jersey, the camp was devoid of any big individual showdowns like last year's matchups between point guards Sebastian Telfair, Shaun Livingston and Darius Washington.
But that all changed on Saturday night as Class of 2006 studs Greg Oden and Derrick Caracter squared off in a showdown that had the crowd buzzing about the two players who are arguably the best in the country, regardless of class.
And although Oden is considered the top prospect, Caracter got the better of the individual matchup in this one.
Not only did the 6-foot-9, 282-pound Caracter take the 7-foot, 245-pound Oden outside and knock down two 3-pointers, he also did the unthinkable — he scored on Oden in the paint.
Oden had been impossible to score inside on all week, but Caracter used his combination of bulk and agility to score on Oden multiple times. Caracter's best move was a baseline spin move, which Oden had trouble staying in front of.
Though Caracter looked especially motivated for the matchup, he said there was no extra incentive going into the game.
"I just wanted to play my hardest and do my best," said Caracter. "I didn't have anything to prove. I knew he was tall and tough. I just wanted to go out there and make him work."
Oden didn't play poorly, mind you, still blocking several shots, throwing down a few dunks, rebounding well and dishing out a couple assists. But his lack of offensive polish hurt him, and Caracter's mobility gave him problems on defense. And while Caracter rose to the occasion, Oden didn't seem especially juiced for the showdown.
Of course, this was just one game, and Oden is still the top prospect in the country. But the gap between Oden and Caracter may be much slimmer than many people thought.
While he doesn't possess Oden's height and defensive ability, Caracter's combination of size and skill makes him an impossible matchup for anyone in the country. And if Oden couldn't stop him, there might not be anyone who can.
Other Day 3 Standouts:
Brandon Rush (Class of 2005): This super-athletic 6-foot-6 wing from Mount Zion Academy (N.C.) has the ability to be the best player in the country, but he's a bit of an enigma. After a slow start, however, he's picked it up the last two days and is averaging 12.3 points and two blocks per game for the camp. Sunday's all-star game could be his shining moment.
Leo Criswell (Class of 2005): Criswell, a 6-foot-8 power forward out of Piper High (Kan.), has been arguably the most consistent and impressive big man in the camp. He's scored in double figures all six games and is averaging 15.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He's also hit 5-of-12 3-pointers.
Danny Green (Class of 2005): This 6-foot-5 shooting guard from St. Mary's High (N.Y.) won't wow you with his play, but he's solid all-around and is a very underrated player. In the night session on Saturday, he scored 26 points and grabbed 10 boards. For the camp, he's averaging 14.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
Jimmy Graham (Class of 2006): Graham, a 6-foot-8 bruising power forward from Charis Prep (N.C.), might be my favorite player in the camp. And not just because of his red-headed afro. He's the hardest-working big man in the camp, and though his stats aren't impressive, he plays with a tenaciousness that's made him a fan and media favorite. He goes hard after every block and every rebound and isn't afraid to throw his body around.
Taylor King (Class of 2007): The 6-foot-7 sharpshooter from Mater Dei High (Calif.) almost stole the show in the Oden-Caracter matchup, scoring 13 points in the second quarter, including three 3-pointers. King is a versatile forward who can score inside or out, but he's at his best when he heats up from distance. He's also a big-game player who always wants the ball.
Notes from adidas:
The adidas Superstar Camp in Georgia concluded on Saturday with the senior and underclass all-star games.
Our adidas correspondent, Ben Sylvan, reported that Christian Brothers Academy (N.Y.) point guard Greg Paulus and Giles County High (Tenn.) small forward Tyler Smith were named co-MVPs of the senior all-star game. Paulus had 12 points, five assists and four steals, while Smith had 16 points and three boards.
In the underclass all-star game, Niagara Falls High (N.Y.) junior shooting guard Paul Harris and San Joaquin High (Calif.) junior power forward Robin Lopez earned co-MVP honors. Harris had 13 points and three rebounds, while Lopez had seven points, five rebounds and two blocks.
Notes from Nike:
The Nike All-America Camp in Indianapolis also concluded on Saturday. Our Nike correspondent, Jon Mahoney, checked in with a few news and notes from the final day at Nike.
Class of 2005 power forwards Richard Hendrix and Tyler Hansbrough played to a draw in their head-to-head matchup. Both players looked impressive in the much-anticipated showdown of the top two big men in the senior class.
Two other lesser-known Class of 2006 players also stood out on Saturday. Winter Park High (Fla.) junior point guard Jeremiah Rivers and Seattle Prep (Wash.) junior power forward Spencer Hawes both looked good. Rivers is the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, while Hawes is a high school teammate of Class of 2005 stud Martell Webster.