NBAPA Top 100 Camp
The nation’s elite improve their game and stock.
by Aggrey Sam / @CSNBullsInsider
Last week’s NBPA Top 100 Camp is always my favorite annual event on the summer circuit and while this year’s group wasn’t as loaded with talent as past camps, it was a competitive affair that allowed this NBA beat writer to get a nice glimpse into the current state of prep hoops. Held at the University of Virginia and featuring past and present pros coaching the prospects, holding educational seminars and mentoring them in general, the camp is a great blend of on and off-court life lessons that provide some balance for the kids before they head into the basketball-only July evaluation period.
I know my views don’t always match the consensus, but it’s clearer now than ever that either I’m completely out of touch or I have a different perspective (the camp’s MVP was Iowa center Adam Woodbury and while I definitely see his potential and respect the fact that he led his squad to the camp’s chip, I don’t factor winning at events with unfamiliar teammates my personal top criteria) after watching 100-plus NBA games in person since last October through last month. Regardless, below are my thoughts on 25 of the players who stood out most to me in Charlottesville.
• Justin Anderson, 6-6 rising senior small forward, Montrose Christian (MD): Always a sensational athlete, the recent UVA commit (he backed out of a pledge to rival Maryland after Gary Williams stepped down) and camp “leadership award” winner used his future home gym to show he’s both rounding out his all-around game and carving out a niche for himself as a versatile defensive stopper, unselfish playmaker and an efficient slasher, as well as productive scorer in transition and offensive rebounder, particularly of the high-flying variety.
• Kyle Anderson, 6-8 rising senior point guard, St. Anthony (NJ): Given the opportunity to be his team’s primary ballhandler, the oversized floor general ran with it and while his lack of foot speed (mitigated by his excellent footwork and tight handle) and ability to guard quicker players (conversely, his length gave smaller players problems) will always be questioned, his outstanding court vision and pinpoint passing (it says here he’s the best at throwing dimes, feeding the post, finding cutters and overall timing in the high school ranks) and ability to use his size as a rebounder, finisher and post-up threat made a believer out of this former skeptic.
• Ryan Arcidiacono, 6-3 rising senior combo guard, Neshaminy (PA): “Ryan Arc” often plays with the mentality of a point, but he’s also a combo in the truest sense of the definition: Villanova’s future floor general is tough, cerebral, unselfish and has a great feel for the game, but he also combines a strong, if not flashy handle, with the ability to attack the rim and finish, use his height against smaller guards and shoot proficiently with range, in addition to being able to guard both backcourt positions.
• Brandon Ashley, 6-9 rising junior power forward, Bishop O’Dowd (CA): I’ve been waiting a while to catch Ashley (which made up for Kuran Iverson, a comparable fellow highly-ranked 2013 star I haven’t seen, being a no-show) and I wasn’t disappointed at his vast potential—the Oakland product has a good motor, great length, runs like a deer, possesses solid ball skills and is extremely bouncy, all of which bode well as he continues to define his game—and tangibles that include quick post moves, strong rebounding on both ends, a defensive presence as a shot-blocker and the ability to put the ball on the floor in both transition and the halfcourt.
• Anthony Bennett, 6-7 rising senior power forward, Findlay (NV): Another inside-outside type, the Canadian import is much more rugged, as he thrives off beasting on the interior for boards and skying for strong finishes, but the camp’s “breakout player” award winner doesn’t rely solely on his power and athleticism, mixing in a perimeter game, which boasts a comfortable and accurate stroke from long distance.
• Cameron Biedscheid, 6-7 rising senior small forward, Cardinal Ritter (MO): One of the less-heralded prospects in attendance, the Notre Dame commit was remarkably solid, if unspectacular, in knocking pull-up jumpers, open triples, contributing on the boards, scoring in the open court and slicing into the lane for tough finishes, despite his slender frame.
• Nate Britt, 6-1 rising junior point guard, Gonzaga (DC): Being that I saw the D.C. floor general in a varsity summer league prior to his freshman year, I was very pleased at his progress, which saw the jet-quick, hyper-competitive southpaw expertly run the show, pester opponents to no end on defense and while the baby-faced assassin began the camp as strictly a dynamic, pass-first distributor, he quickly flourished as an aggressive scorer, whether knocking down treys, lofting pretty floaters or sliding through cracks to get all the way to the rack against all comers in Charlottesville.
• Elijah Brown, 6-3 rising junior shooting guard, St. Edward (OH): Every year, there’s a few players invited to the camp on the merits of their NBA-connected fathers and while that might be the case for the son of the new Lakers coach, he certainly held his own by knocking down perimeter jumpers, displaying a competent handle, finishing opportunistic drives and generally playing with the intelligence one expects of a coach’s son.
• Jordan Burgess, 6-4 rising senior wing, Benedictine (VA): The recent VCU commit (his older brother, Bradford, starred on the Final Four squad) isn’t just a mid-major steal, he’s a straight-up heist, as he consistently outplayed higher-profile campers by converting rugged forays to the rack, draining open jumpers, excelling in the open court, mixing it up inside in a blue-collar fashion and throwing in some tough defense for good measure.
• Alex Caruso, 6-5 rising senior wing, A&M Consolidated (TX): Caruso, whose father works in the athletic department at Texas A&M (although he somehow escaped garnering an offer from former Aggies head coach Mark Turgeon, the new Maryland boss), has blown up as of late and justified the increased recent attention with his heady passing, terrific motor, deceptive athleticism, solid ballhandling and outside marksmanship.
• A.J. Davis, 6-6 rising junior small forward, Greater Atlanta Christian (GA): Antonio Davis’ son doesn’t have his pop’s frame or game; rather, he’s a fluid, active, high-energy wing who thrives in transition, plays above the rim, contributes on the boards on both ends, defends the perimeter like the spawn of a ’90’s-era Pacer and while his ball skills aren’t all the way polished just yet, he’s a willing, intelligent passer, makes decisive, efficient moves off the bounce and is a capable outside shooter from deep when left open.
• Andre Drummond, 6-11 rising senior center, St. Thomas More (CT): Arguably the top prospect in his class, there’s no debate about Drummond’s physical tools—monster athlete, pro-ready frame, dominant around the rim on both ends—but like most rare talents, his focus wanes at times, so mixed in with scary, unstoppable stretches were moments where he appeared to be exploring his guard skills, which clearly isn’t his strong suit.
• Zena Edosomwan, 6-7 rising senior power forward, Harvard-Westlake (CA): An energetic, blue-collar type, Edsomwan doesn’t possess ideal size for his position, but makes up for it with a tremendous motor, good athleticism, the willingness to bang, nice defensive acumen, opportunistic scoring instincts, the quickness to exploit opposing big men, solid post moves and finishing ability
• Kevin Ferrell, 5-11 rising senior point guard, Park Tudor (IN): “Yogi,” a diminutive Indiana commit (and one of the best nicknames at the event; personally, I’d give it to Danrad “Chicken” Knowles, an intriguing face-up big man out of Houston) flustered foes with his quickness, high-level playmaking ability (no surprise, given that his high school coach is pro workout guru Ed Schilling), uncanny shot-making in traffic, dogged defense and improved consistency from beyond the arc, but most of all, his blend of smarts and competitiveness that prevents his size from being a disadvantage.
• Allerick Freeman, 6-4 rising junior combo guard, Olympic (NC): A big lead guard, Freeman is capable of bullying smaller point guards with his strong frame (which he also uses to finish in the lane and help out on the glass), but he also plays with great pace, is unselfish with good playmaking ability, slide over to the two to defend shooting guards and can hit contested mid-range jumpers and contested treys.
• Jerome Hairston, 6-3 rising senior combo guard, Liberty Christian (VA): Hairston didn’t come into the camp with the biggest reputation, but opened a lot of eyes with his aggressive style of play that featured relentless penetration, solid playmaking, ball-hawking defense, good perimeter shooting and intensity at all times.
• Danuel House, 6-7 rising senior small forward, Hightower (TX): A high-flying Houston product, House plays with terrific energy on both ends of the floor and while he’s at his best in transition, he proved to be capable of making open jumpers, getting to the bucket on straight-line drives, contributing on the boards and using his explosiveness to make plays above the rim.
• Amile Jefferson, 6-8 rising senior combo forward, Friends Central (PA): At first glance, Jefferson, the camp’s scholar-athlete award winner, seemingly hadn’t improved much since his younger days, but as time wore on, the long Philly native continually and consistently got the job done by sticking to his bread and butter—solid post moves, quick drives, rebounding on both ends and versatile defense that includes shot-blocking and the ability to guard perimeter players—as well as ball skills that enabled him to play on the perimeter when necessary.
• Tyler Lewis, 5-11 rising senior point guard, Forsyth Country Day (NC): I loved the NC State commit at last year’s camp, so I’m glad I was able to catch him on the first day—before he got hurt—when I witnessed his usual playmaking exploits, combined with a new dimension of fearlessly penetrating and mitigating his size issues with savvy, as he either drew fouls, pulled up for floaters or finished below the rim.
• Georges Niang, 6-7 senior power forward, Tilton (NH): Considered a steal for Iowa State, Niang is a tad undersized for the post, but makes up for it with his ruggedness, strong frame, solid post moves, defensive effort, overall hustle and relentless rebounding.
• Ron Patterson, 6-3 rising senior wing, Broad Ripple (IN): Another member of Indiana’s much-ballyhooed 2012 recruiting class, the power wing from Indy impressed with his hard-charging style, defensive prowess, ability to play bigger than his size, slashing and finishing, understanding of how to play off the ball, unselfishness, transition scoring and overall efficient game.
• Jordan Price, 6-5 rising senior wing, Southwest Dekalb (GA): I wasn’t sold on the Auburn commit initially, but fast forward a year and his improved ballhandling, motor and consistency with his outside J has me eating my words, as the powerful Price is starting to reach his potential as a versatile scorer, but also displayed the ability to contribute in other aspects of the game with his rebounding and passing.
• Mitch McGary, 6-10 rising senior post, Brewster (NH): “Money Makin’ Mitch,” a Northwest Indiana native prepping in New England, stole the show, in my opinion, as his unparalleled passion (guttural screams and exhortations of his teammates reverberated around the gym whenever he was on the court) cowed some foes and when his strength, energy, resourcefulness and determination didn’t work (which wasn’t often), his deceptive quickness, versatility, excellent ball skills for his size, effective post moves and ferocious work on the boards did the trick.
• Steve Taylor, 6-8 rising senior combo forward, Simeon (IL): I’ve seen Taylor on his high school team—where he generally plays in the post, but also has some freedom to launch triples—but in Charlottesville, out of the shadow of star teammate Jabari Parker, the Windy City’s top player in his class (admittedly in a down year for seniors in Chicago) showed much more, including eye-opening ballhandling (he frequently pushed the ball upcourt after snatching defensive boards and was even permitted to bring up the rock in set situations), tenacious rebounding, the ability to play on the wing on both ends, comfortable three-point range, smart decision-making and both toughness and skill on the blocks.
• TJ Warren, 6-7 rising senior small forward, Word of God (NC): A pure scorer, Warren has the size, athleticism, frame and skills to get it done inside and out, as he overpowers or simply goes over most wings, has some ability to play with his back to the basket, has range from beyond the arc, is a capable ballhandler, excels in transition, possesses a solid mid-range game and is even willing to do some dirty work on the offensive boards.
Aggrey Sam covers the Chicago Bulls for Comcast Sportsnet Chicago.