ABCD Camp Roundup: Day 3
Total 2005 Summer Hoop Camp coverage
TEANECK, N.J. – There was a buzz in the air Friday night at the Reebok ABCD Camp. There was barely a seat available, and many players from the camp littered the sidelines.
Must have been Greg Oden vs. Derrick Caracter.
In a matchup between two of the top big men in the Class of 2006, Oden showed why he's the nation's best by outplaying Caracter, despite what the box score might say.
Caracter ended up outscoring Oden, 13-12, but he made just 5-of-13 shots from field, 1-of-4 from the line and turned the ball over four times. Meanwhile, Oden was an efficient 5-of-7 from the field, 2-of-5 from the line and turned it over just once to lead his team to victory. He added four blocks and three rebounds and never forced a shot.
Caracter did knock down a couple of late 3-pointers to overtake Oden in the scoring column, but he looked overmatched inside against the long arms and overall defensive presence of Oden.
"He really defends well," Caracter said after the game. "He's long, he jumps, he defends. He's the whole package."
While everyone else in the gym cared about who won the individual matchup between the big men, Oden was more pleased that his team came out on top.
"He could have gotten the best of me tonight," Oden said. "I really don't care. My team won, and that's all that matters."
Pass the Mayo
If Oden vs. Caracter was the main event on Friday night at ABCD, then O.J. Mayo vs. Paul Harris was one heck of an undercard during the evening session.
Though it didn't garner the hype of the Oden-Caracter showdown, Mayo-Harris was probably a more entertaining and newsworthy matchup.
Why? Because Harris, one of the elite players in the Class of 2006, hounded arguably the nation's most skilled player into a 1-for-10 shooting performance. Mayo, who entered the game averaging a camp-best 18.6 points per game, finished with just two points, one assist and five turnovers.
Meanwhile, Harris finished with 13 points, five rebounds and three steals. Harris continually hounded Mayo on defense by using his 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame to shut down Mayo, who'd had his way with every other player who guarded him this week. Mayo was visibly frustrated and began uncharacteristically forcing shots and playing one-on-one basketball.
And when the game went into overtime, Mayo forced three failed 3-point attempts (first team to three in OT wins) with Harris guarding him. However, it should also be noted that Mayo had the assist on the game-winning 3 by teammate Bill Walker, meaning his team did get the victory.
But in the individual matchup between Harris and Mayo, it was Harris who came away with a clear victory. And that's worth noting because not many players get the best of Mayo.
Of course, one bad performance isn't going to hurt Mayo's stock. He's still one of the two best players in the country, along with Oden. But the showdown did solidify Harris' spot as one of the elite ballers in the nation and proved that he can not only affect a game on offense, but defense as well.
Besides Oden and Harris, here are five other players who stood out on the third day of the ABCD Camp:
St. John Bosco (Calif.)
Class of 2007
Yes, Hackett was in this space yesterday and we generally try to mix up the players we mention here. But the underrated guard from Cali deserves another mention after almost overshadowing the Mayo vs. Harris showdown by dropping a game-high 18 points and not backing down from Harris when matched up against him. Hackett isn't flashy, but he gets the job done and is averaging 13.7 points per game through the camp's first six games. Mayo's backup in camp is definitely making a name for himself, and he's also playing the point at 6-foot-5.
Lawrence North (Ind.)
Class of 2006
There might not be a more underrated player in the country than Conley, who is best known as Oden's teammate but is an elite player in his own right. In fact, he might be the best pure playmaking point guard in the country. He rarely makes mistakes or forces bad shots, he always gets the ball to his teammates in the right spots and he's the consummate pass-first point guard. During the Oden vs. Caracter matchup, he continually fed Oden in the right spots to give his big man scoring opportunities. Some might think Oden makes Conley look good, but it's time people starting realizing the opposite is also true.
Mater Dei (Calif.)
Class of 2007
King has played the role of forgotten man at this camp. Going into ABCD, he was viewed as one of the top players in his class. But all the chatter this week about players from the Class of '07 has centered on Mayo, Walker and Kevin Love. We decided to change things up a bit. After all, King has showcased his normally deadly shooting stroke while also running the floor and mixing it up inside. He's averaging 15.8 points per game through the first six games, including a game-high 25 in a win Friday night.
Class of 2006
James' game is as smooth as silk. The 6-foot-8, 225-pounder is listed as a power forward, but you'd have no idea what position he plays because of his all-around skills. Need him to bring the ball up like a point? Check. Want a tough rebound inside? Check. How about a nice mid-range jumper? Check again. James, an Oklahoma recruit, had 15 points and eight boards in Friday night's game and is averaging 13.8 points and 6.3 boards through the first six games.
Class of 2006
You gotta love a player like Stepheson. Just give him a lunch pail before each game because he's ready to go to work. Stepheson enjoys mixing it up inside and has a knack for drawing contact and getting to the line. He's also solid on the glass and can block a shot or two. On Friday afternoon, Stepheson went up against an elite frontline that included the likes of Love, Lance Thomas and Darrell Arthur. Still, he managed to post seven points, 10 boards and two blocks.
Rob Bodenburg contributed to this report
Check back on Monday for a roundup of Saturday's underclass and senior all-star games from ABCD.