The NBA camp provides a lot of educational opportunities for the kids, on top of all the basketball instruction. They listen to lectures on everything from drug abuse to career development to enjoying the recruiting process. Therefore, by the time the second session of games begins, most of the campers have already been up for about 12 hours (except for Fab Melo, who overslept). This leads to a second session that provides good matchups but not the best performances. So when you read the following quick updates of some of the players, you have to remember to keep in mind that they may not have been at their most energetic. Now that we got that out of the way, here’s some of the updates of what occurred throughout the day:
– Spoke for a while to Roscoe Smith, whose jumper has been off since the early session, and he confirmed that he will be attending Oak Hill next year. If you recall from earlier posts, Assistant Coach Rod Strickland is an Oak Hill Alum and Doron Lamb is a student there. Roscoe said that he mainly keeps in touch with Orlando Antigua at this point, but he has talked to Calipari in the past. When I told him my name and affiliation, his first comment was: “So, how’s your boy Cal doin’?” He seems pretty interested in learning more about Kentucky but is still very wide open right now and is really just diving into the whole recruiting process. He has spent the past few weeks working on his game and figuring out his high school destination (for those that don’t know, his former high school is closing up shop). He fits into the mold of other lengthy athletic wings that Calipari has shown a propensity for recruiting. UNC and UK have already offered, along with just about anybody else you can think of. Roscoe said he would like to eventually play somewhere closer to the east coast and included most of the Big East and ACC as possible destinations.
– WARNING: DO NOT READ THE FOLLOWING IF YOU HATE THE FACT THAT WILL BARTON CHOSE MEMPHIS. Will Barton has really turned a lot of heads at the camp and is living up to his hype. While the Kyrie Irving/Brandon Knight faceoff was getting most of the attention on court 1, Will stole the show away for a few moments with an off the backboard alley oop from a teammate where his head hit, I swear, the top of the arena. He’s got tons of athleticism and a good shot from anywhere on the court.
– Oddest thing I heard all day: UL is out of the Justin Martin running and UK is involved. I wouldn’t sweat this one too much because almost anyone will tell you that he is a lock for Arizona. I’ll try to get a little bit more out of him tomorrow because he DEFINITELY wasn’t someone I thought I would need to be talking to about UK.
– CJ Leslie will be visiting UK at some point during the summer. He is also planning on taking a few other visits but was adamant about pointing out that he was interested in seeing UK. He gave a list of UK, Florida, UNC, NC State, Wake Forest and Maryland as schools that are involved at this point. His recent visit to UNC allowed him to play pickup games with some of the former Tarheels and he seemed to enjoy that visit. Its hard to figure out whether or not he has actually received a former offer from them. While he says that he could go ahead and commit if he wanted to, he didn’t exactly give an affirmative answer to whether or not there is a formal offer. John Wall has also been talking to him about attending UK but I’m not really sure how much that matters, being that Wall will be 100% in the NBA by then. Couldn’t hurt though. I’d expect the decision to come sometime in the spring, much like Wall, because Leslie admitted that he is “loving the attention.” He would be a perfect fit in the DDM, with his inside/out game and ability to run the floor. He also showed natural leadership and a lot of tenacity on the court.
– I had an interesting talk with Dominique Ferguson, who seems like he is not enjoying the recruiting process anymore. This really surprised me since I figured him for a recruit that would stick it out into the springtime after what happened after his last early commitment. He explained, “All the calls just get a little annoying, being called so much, I’m just ready for it all to end.” He noted that Duke has really turned up the heat and is one of the schools he is hearing from the most (I’d be annoyed if Coach K was crying in my ear all the time too). When I talked to him at the AMC, he told me that he wasn’t all that familiar with the style of offense that Calipari runs (the dribble drive motion), but during this conversation he said that he has gotten a little more up to speed. How he got up to speed is the most interesting part: You-Tube. Apparently, in between watching episodes of the Kige Ramsey show and “Charley Bit Me,” Ferguson has also been watching tapes of Calipari’s old games. He basically gave the same list of schools, naming specifically Indiana, Louisville, Arizona, Florida, Texas and Tennessee.
– I hinted earlier about the conversation with Doron Lamb. He also said that he would be visiting UK and Kansas soon. He seems to like the coaching staff at UK a lot. This makes sense, being that two are NY guys , one is an Oak Hill grad, and the head man is reknowned for putting guards in the Big Show. His shot wasn’t on during the only game I saw him play in today, which is an integral part of his overall game. This particular game did occur in the late session and his shot seemed a little short so in my mind it is nothing to worry about. I’ll catch up with him in the early session tomorrow.
– Rakeem Christmas is the talk of the youngsters at the camp and has played really well every time I saw him. In the late session, against slower centers, he used a quick drop step and spin to dunk the ball home twice. He’s got a huge wingspan and is very quick on the pivot.
– Fab Melo is a big ole boy with a good jumper for his size. The only knock on him is the fact that he can’t always get up and down the court with the guards, getting “stuck between the foul lines.” When he is able to get a defender behind him, he uses his big frame to push them around for position. Adreian Payne found it tough to go toe to toe defensively with him and opted to get in front of him and deny him the ball using his speed and length. After getting pushed around a bit too much, Payne got his revenge by dunking on Melo, waking the late crowd up. Speaking of Payne, he’s got a “high motor” (a phrase I absolutely hate, but it works for him) and is a very versatile big man. He’s able to run with the guards and use athleticism to make up for any size he might lack against bigger centers. He’s not small by any means, just when compared to Melo.
– The Kyrie Irving/Brandon Knight matchup was a snoozer. Both seemed a little tired and didn’t get too involved. Kyrie played good defense on Knight, but Knight still used his explosiveness and body to get around him. Kyrie’s shot was a little off but his passes were on. Knight is a notch above the rest of the point guards at the camp and would be a major major “get” for any team. When I spoke with him, he was another guard who noted Calipari’s ability to get guards NBA-ready. He likes the teams that Calipari is assembling at UK and the direction the program is taking. Those that say that UK is out of it are just plain wrong. He is a top target for many schools and if Cal is able to land him, which I think he has as good a chance as anyone, you should dance naked in the front of the Jones and Bruce office on Bardstown Road to show your glee (I’m sure you’ll at least get some free tickets…or just thoroughly embarrassed).
– Jelan Kendrick is a smooth wing with good handles for his size. He’ll be good at the wing position or, possibly, as a big point guard. He’s quick in transition and can score or make precise passes. He’s a lot of fun to watch and has a pretty versatile game.
– Brandon Knight is currently leading all scorers at the camp with an average of 19.5 ppg. Here’s some other notable averages: Will Barton (17), Joe Jackson (15), Jelan Kendrick (14.5), Harrison Barnes (12), Fab Melo (12), Doron Lamb (11.5), Michael Gilchrist (11), and LaQuinton Ross (11). The rest are below double figures but I’m sure these averages will continue to fluctuate as the camp progresses.
I think that’s enough for you guys to chew on for now. More coming tomorrow, including a key matchup between Michael Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes. I’ll be posting a lot of immediate impressions of players and updates in recruitment through my twitter, so make sure you follow if you’re interested in getting some of the news right away.