TEANECK, N.J. – All week long at the Reebok ABCD Camp, Paul Harris showed he belongs among the top 10 players in the Class of 2006.
So it was no surprise that Harris was the star among stars at the senior all-star game on Saturday evening, erupting for a game-high 34 points and earning co-MVP honors even though his Blue team lost, 135-128, to the White team.
Harris, who solidified his elite standing earlier in the week with a lockdown defensive performance against O.J. Mayo, shot 14-for-22, added seven rebounds and actually played some defense, a rarity for an all-star game.
"When you come in this gym and see the banner with all the MVPs that have been on to play in the NBA, that's a real honor," Harris said after the game. "It feels real good. I just came out and played fun and had fun."
However, it was another Harris, recent UConn commit Will Harris, who led the victorious White team with 18 points, although Daequan Cook (14 points) and Derrick Caracter (12 points, six rebounds) earned co-MVP of the White team. For Cook, it was his second straight all-star MVP award after taking home honors in the ABCD underclassmen game last year.
"It's very exciting," Cook said. "I got the chance to play with the best players in the game, and I ended up winning the MVP of the all-star game. No question it's the best way to leave out. You've got to leave out with a bang, and I feel good about it."
Point guard Doug Wiggins shared co-MVP of the Blue team with Paul Harris after racking up eight points and five assists.
All things considered, it was a relatively tame all-star game, unlike the high-flying underclassmen all-star game (more on that later). And the player most people wanted to see, Greg Oden, played just a few minutes before leaving the game with an injury.
Cook, Davon Jefferson (7 points), Tyler Smith (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Damion James (14 points, 5 rebounds) added a little flair with some crowd-pleasing dunks, but overall there were few memorable plays from the senior game.
In fact, perhaps the most memorable play came when Jefferson had a breakaway but stopped at the free-throw line, momentarily confused, before finally going in for a soft dunk that left the crowd disappointed. He did, however, make up for it later with a thunderous breakaway dunk.
Other guys who played well in the senior all-star game were: Vernon Teal (14 points), Mike Davis (13 points, 8 rebounds), Mike Conley (11 points), Darrell Arthur (11 points), Earl Clark (10 points) and Willie Kemp (8 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists).
Going into last year's ABCD Camp, North College Hill's (Ohio) Bill Walker, then a rising sophomore, admitted to having quite a few butterflies in his stomach. But after a strong camp and an MVP award in the underclassmen all-star game, that nervousness quickly went away.
Now a rising junior, Walker built off last year's strong performance by winning his second straight MVP award at this year's underclassmen all-star game on Saturday afternoon.
The 6-foot-6, 222-pounder looked calm and collected, despite the likes of Jay-Z in the crowd, as he made 11-of-12 field goal attempts (all on dunks) en route to a game-high 22 points while leading his squad to a 128-122 victory.
"Last year, I was kind of scared coming in here playing against some of the guys I had read about, the older guys like Gerald Green and Brandon Rush," said Walker. "After I knew I could play with them, this year was more of a statement and to cement my name as one of the great basketball players, amateur-wise. I think I did that."
Walker's high-flying act prompted the PA announcer to call him "Sky Walker" after each electrifying dunk, and Walker admitted that he enjoyed exciting the crowd with each flush.
"I just went out there and had fun," he said. "I did what I do. The crowd was into it and it was a good game and a good atmosphere. It's great for the fans."
Piney Woods (Miss.) rising freshman Renardo Sidney, who played on Walker's team, also opened some eyes by earning co-MVP honors himself. The 6-foot-9, 210-pounder showed off some inside skills during the game with 10 points, five boards and two blocks.
"I was surprised that I was going to get it," admitted Sidney. "But they called my name and I had to go up and get my MVP jersey. I'm happy."
North College Hill superstar guard O.J. Mayo, the top player in the Class of 2007, had a strong all-star game as well. Playing with Walker and Sidney, Mayo decided to fill the role of distributor as he dished out a game-high seven assists to go along with 11 points.
Mayo also exacted some revenge on Bishop Loughlin (N.Y.) rising freshman Lance Stephenson, who had played well against Mayo when the two went head-to-head on the first night of camp. This time, Mayo made sure to teach the youngster a lesson in front of a packed crowd by breaking him down and nailing a couple tough jumpers in his face.
He also picked Stephenson's pocket as Stephenson went for the crossover that he used to burn a Mayo a few times on the first night. Mayo's defensive effort helped contribute to Stephenson going 1-for-13 from the field in the all-star game.
Rising juniors Corey Stokes of St. Benedict's (N.J.) and Devin Ebanks of Bishop Loughlin earned the other co-MVP honors for the underclassmen game. They played for the losing squad but still managed to shine as Stokes had a team-high 18 points while Ebanks chipped in with 15 points and seven boards.
More Awards and Rewards
If there's one thing the ABCD Camp does well at the end of the week, it's give away awards. And in addition to the eight players who earned MVP honors from the senior and underclassmen all-star games, five more players were honored with various awards.
The most heartfelt was the inaugural Wallace Prather Award, named for the legendary AAU coach in Atlanta who passed away last month. The award, which honored the player in camp who worked the hardest and showed the most character on and off the court, went to Lance Thomas.
"I thought I put a lot into this week," said Thomas, who kept a player diary for the ABCD Web site throughout the week. "It's real good. I feel like I'm a nice guy, and I think that rubs off on people. It's a real honor to be recognized for that."
ABCD also named overall Players of the Week for the entire camp. The underclassmen winners were O.J. Mayo and Kevin Love, while Greg Oden and Damion James earned the senior awards.
Here is SchoolSports.com's ranking of the top 10 overall performers from the ABCD Camp:
1. Greg Oden
2. O.J. Mayo
3. Paul Harris
4. Kevin Love
5. Bill Walker
6. Mike Conley
7. Taylor King
8. Damion James
9. Herb Pope
10. Daniel Hackett
Jon Mahoney contributed to this report.