By Aggrey Sam
Just like last year, I’m in Philly (feels funny staying in a hotel here; thanks, Mandy) covering the Reebok All-American Camp (formerly Rbk U), but there are a few changes. First of all, more kids. The camp is up to 150 campers (120 last year), which leads to a constant stream of games (today the first game starts at 8:30 and the last game starts at 9:30; no breaks), as there are 14 teams here. Also, while the camp has quite a few of the requisite national name players in attendance (although they have to compete with the adidas It Takes Five tourney in Cincy and the LeBron James Nike US Skills Academy in Akron, not to mention the trials for the USA Basketball Under-18 team), a lot of relatively anonymous kids also have the opportunity to be seen by the scores of college coaches observing. Reebok (shout out to Chris Rivers and Co.) put together two teams of players who were selected to the camp through their Breakout and Headliner camps (where underclassmen and regional prospects, respectively, can earn invites to the big camp), which was interesting. I saw a lot of ball yesterday–much of it sloppy, as first days of camps tend to be–but here’s a dozen (in no particular order) of the kids who impressed me (I left some players out who I’ve seen a lot of) so far:
Lenzelle Smith, 6-4 wing, Zion-Benton (IL), 2010: A husky Chicago-area wing who consistently plays hard, Smith’s toughness, ability to push the ball, get to the rack and finish made him stand out early.
Myck Kabongo, 6-0 point guard, St. Benedict’s (NJ), 2011: Through Monday’s scrimmages and his first game yesterday, the native of Canada was playing like the best pure point guard here, using his tremendous quickness, handle and court vision to set teammates up for easy buckets.
Guy Landry-Edi, 6-7 combo forward, Van Nuys (CA), 2009: The diesel Frenchman isn’t a straight 3 or strictly a power forward (he’s also probably closer to 6-5), but his combination of athleticism, hustle, intensity and versatile (if unpolished) offensive skills makes him a hot commodity.
Abdul Gaddy, 6-3 point guard, Bellarmine (WA), 2009: One of the top point guards nationally in his class, the silky-smooth former Arizona commit makes the game look incredibly easy with his ball-on-a-string handle, dimes from any angle and his efficiency in transition, but I was most impressed with how he utilizes his length on D.
Avery Bradley, 6-3 combo guard, Bellarmine (WA), 2009: You can’t mention one without the other, but Bradley (who is highly touted in his own right) stood out individually with his strong drives, perimeter shooting and willing to mix it up with the big men inside.
Thomas Robinson, 6-8 combo forward, Brewster (NH), 2009: A DC native who is headed to prep school, Robinson’s versatility–he can post up, handle the ball well for his size and hit the occasional outside J–but his motor, athleticism and toughness on the inside made him one of the top post prospects in attendance early on.
Aaric Murray, 6-10 post, Glen Mills (PA), 2009: No longer a hidden gem, Murray’s inexperience shows, but his natural tools–he runs the floor hard, is a defensive presence, has good footwork and a nice touch–makes an impact guy, as many college coaches were whispering in the stands.
Brandon Knight, 6-3 combo guard, Pinecrest (FL), 2010: Paired with AAU running mate Kenny Boynton (the 2009 standout also balled, but I’m pretty sure I’ve covered his game ad nauseum on this site), Knight continues to step his game up from nice young prospect to dominating scorer/distributor.
Renardo Sidney, 6-9 combo forward, Fairfax (CA), 2009: The pros (unbelievable skills) and cons (questionable motivation) of Sidney’s game are obvious to anyone who’s ever seen him play, but yesterday the big fella played hard for the most part, scored on the inside and outside at will, rebounded well and showed off his guard-like ability–when conditioning wasn’t a factor.
Arsalan Kazemi, 6-8 combo forward, Patterson (NC), 2009: A native of Iran by way of Houston, the raw Kazemi might be the story of the camp so far, as he had the whole gym buzzing with his ridiculous high-flying dunks, boundless energy and overall fearlessness.
Joe Burton, 6-8 post, West Valley (CA), 2009: A massive presence in the Derrick Caracter/Tractor Traylor/Kevin Love mold, Burton isn’t a big-time leaper, but is extremely effective (and fun to watch) due to his uncanny agility, passing skills, ballhandling and rebounding.
Mike Marra, 6-5 wing, Northfield-Mount Hermon (MA), 2009: Possibly the best shooter at the camp, Marra is lights-out from deep, but the Louisville commit is also a solid athlete who can finish at the cup or pull up from mid-range.
Back to the gym for more camp action. I’ll check in soon.