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June 22, 2004
NBA Players Camp: Tuesday Notes
Richmond, Va. - The final day of action is complete at the NBA Players Association camp at Virginia Commonwealth University and the nation's top underclassmen Greg Oden couldn't do enough to pull out the victory thanks to great team play of his opponents and an inspired week by Texas wing man Roderick Flemings.
Team Play Leads to Title
The Lakers couldn't win the NBA championship but they did pull off a big win at the NBAPA camp. Led by a well-rounded offense, the Lakers won 64-62 in the title game over the Pacers.
It was a team effort as guys like Amir Johnson, Davon Jefferson, Roderick Flemings, Marcus Johnson, Mike Mercer, Derwin Kitchen and Maurice Joseph each made significant contributions.
The book on Roderick Flemings has a lot of versions. On the first day of competition, he said he was committed to Oklahoma State. The next day he said he was looking at the Cowboys along with UConn, Texas and Oklahoma. On the final day of competition, the lefty said he was verbally committed but he insists he is looking elsewhere. Whatever the story, he was one of the top scorers at the event and put on a show each time he played. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound prospect from DeSoto (Texas) High School was one of the main reasons for the Lakers championship run.
Amir Johnson, fresh off a verbal commitment to Louisville, had his biggest challenge of the camp when he drew the match up of Greg Oden, the best player in prep basketball. Johnson, who was two to three inches shorter than the 7-foot-1 manchild, had his moments but he couldn't get past the sprawling arms of Oden.
6-foot-7 forward Shaun Green (Salt Lake City, Utah), normally a fantastic spot-up shooter, was effective on the defensive end, blocking five shots. He'll be a great mid-major player and has been efficient at every event he's been at this year.
Oden had an amazing close to the first half with a thundering dunk and then he pinned a last second shot high on the glass. He was unstoppable (no surprise) all week and that will be the case until he receives his high school diploma. There aren't enough words in the English language to describe his domination of the prep scene.
Korvotney Barber had a fantastic time at the camp but couldn't play in the title game because of an injured hand. Had the powerful 6-foot-7 Manchester (Ga.) forward played, it's easy to wonder what might have been.
Final Day Observations
Playing with fellow class of 2007 prospect O.J. Mayo, Keegan Bell didn't get the recognition like the ultra-talented guard from Ohio got all week. That wasn't the case on Tuesday. Bell, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound point guard from Madison, Ala., has played at a high-level since he was a starter at his high school as a middle schooler.
Bell displayed a confident shooting touch and sank a trio of trifectas. He knows how to run an offense, hooking guys like Mayo, George Drake and Taylor King up with nice offensive opportunities. Bell even put in a couple of jumpers of the glass. He's a high-major player with schools like Kentucky and Duke already on his trail.
King, another class of 2007 prospect, took advantage of the individual skills training this week. The UCLA-commitment worked with the big men all week and his rebounding skills showed that in game situations. The 6-foot-7 small forward from Mater Dei (Calif.) High School is becoming more than just a shooter.
Uche Echefu and Ryan Wright went at it in the mid afternoon game. While the two both shined all week, their match-up never fully materialized into one of the most remembered. Echefu had a couple of nice moves inside with a two dribble power move but he didn't get a lot of touches to show more.
Wright, a 6-foot-9 forward from suburban Toronto, expanded his game out to the free throw line and knocked down a jumper as well as doing what he does best and that is play around the basket.
Jeremy Mayfield was a nice surprise at the camp. The 6-foot-9, 220-pound power forward will spilt time between Team Fort Worth and the Houston Hoops this summer. He's one to watch because of his athleticism and raw potential in a very thin big man pool. From block to block, he showed nice foot work and a mild baby hook while his passing skills need to be improved. A wide range of schools have made initial contact including Texas, LSU, Portland State, North Texas and Baylor, he said. Mayfield will take the SAT on September 2 and could be a possible late signee.
Odds & Ends
Sometimes your peers give the best compliments. And Texas point guard Byron Eaton received one and he may not even know it. "That dude is like a gnat, man," a player said in the crowd during the media session. "He's always in your face."
The state of South Carolina has more than just one high-major player living within it's borders. Electric point guard Devan Downey was explosive of the dribble and got to the basket in a blink. His shot is deadly and hard to defend because he is so quick with the release. The 5-foot-10 prospect is legit.
Florida wing Alex Ruoff had one of his better games in the mid afternoon session, scoring 11 points on a couple of three pointers and attacked the basket in traffic.
During the individual workout sessions, players had the chance to work with a number of NBA personnel, including Scottie Pippen, Steve Blake, Brian Cardinal, Britton Johnson and Erik Strickland. In the dribbling station, Mario Chalmers gave the sparse crowd and his fellow prep stars something to remember. He went one on one with Strickland and put a cross over dribble with the Milwaukee Bucks guard and sent him to the ground after his feet got crossed up. Not going to be shown up by a rising high school senior, Strickland wanted one more try. While it wasn't nearly as embarrassing as the first go round, Chalmers left Strickland in the dust behind him.
ABC news show "20/20" was at the camp earlier in the week and the NBA Players Association did a good job of getting the class of 2005's most media ready players in front of the cameras and lights. Jamal Boykin, Bobby Frasor, C.J. Miles, Tasmin Mitchell and Fendi Onobun were a few of players interviewed about the educational aspects of the camp.
Onobun and Mitchell were pinned against each other on Tuesday and like many of the headlining match-ups, this one didn't leave much to be desired. Onobun may have won the battle with his explosive first step off the dribble and power moves in traffic. He is mastering his midrange shot and his three point range is developing. He was one of the top players in the camp without a doubt.
Several players are leaving Richmond and heading straight to Colorado Springs for the USA Development Youth Festival. C.J. Henry, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound guard from Putnam City (Okla.) High School will be going to a USA sponsored event but he'll be on the baseball diamond. The two-sport star is headed to Joplin, Mo., for a similar elite skills training. Henry said he's considering Kansas, UConn, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State for hoops. In July he'll be at the ABCD camp and play with Team Oklahoma at the adidas events in Atlanta and Las Vegas.
Anthony Mason, Jr. listed Washington State, Cincinnati, Miami (Fla.), DePaul, Florida State, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia Tech and St. John's. adidas Superstar camp in Atlanta.
Montrose Christian big man Uche Echefu Florida State, Florida, Texas and Virginia have all offered him a scholarship. The 6-foot-8 power forward made the best of his rare national appearance and gave on-lookers something to look forward to at his next stop - Nike camp.
6-foot-6, 225-pound William Harris brought a little New York flair to the camp, shouting "that's my bread and butter" every time he took the ball to the rack. The Redemption Christian prospect said South Florida, Richmond, Kent State, Nebraska and Hofstra have all offered a scholarship. He also said Michigan State, Clemson, Rhode Island, St. John's and Georgia have all shown interest. Harris will play with the Juice All-Stars in July.
Mamadi Diane, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound shooting guard from DeMatha (Md.) is an athletic player that loves to run. High majors are aware of him, too. "I'm hearing a lot from the ACC and Big East schools right now," he said. "Georgia Tech, Maryland, Clemson, Virginia, Georgetown, UConn, Louisville and Wake Forest are just some of them right now."
When Lewis Clinch and Charles Jackson get off the plane in Atlanta on Wednesday, they'll make the short trip to Georgia Tech for an unofficial visit.