By Aggrey Sam
After I left the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Virginia, I headed to the RBK Breakout Underclass Camp at the Joy of the Game facility in Deerfield, Ill., right outside of Chicago. The camp was for the top 2009, 2010 and 2011 (kids going into the ninth, 10th and 11th grades) who excelled at the Reebok Headliner Tryout camps in their respective cities, but didn’t quite make the cut for the elite RBK U. camp, which will be held in Philly early next month. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot of talent present, as some of the top young players in the country were at the event. For a glimpse of the type of athleticism at the camp, check out this video of an unofficial dunk contest put together by my man Nils Wagner of hoopsmixtape.com. Also, thanks to RBK’s Chris Rivers, Alonzo Weatherby, Greg “Shoes” Vetrone, Jason Fawcett, Joy of the Game’s Mike Weinstein, the many coaches, parents and others who helped make the event a success.
While only five players and one alternate were selected to participate at RBK U. (their names appear in italics), I was also impressed with several others at Breakout.
Waverly Austin, 6-9 post, Yuler (FL), 2009: A slender post player with developing post moves, Austin showed good hands and the ability to finish with his soft touch around the basket. While he needs to add strength, Austin rebounded the ball well and also ran the floor effectively.
BJ Bailey, 6-4 wing, Holy Spirit (NJ), 2009: A strong wing with good versatility, Bailey played unselfish ball and hustled throughout. When given the opportunity, he created his own shot from the perimeter, either with a mid-range jumper or drive to the hole, as well as finishing in transition.
Kyree Bethel, 6-1 combo guard, Westover (NC), 2009: Bethel, consistently solid at Breakout, was equally effective on and off the ball. With the ball in his hands, he got into the lane and created for himself and others, while he knocked down jumpers and stayed active when he was on the ball.
Clint Bozner, 6-7 post, Villa Park (CA), 2010: An active forward with good bounce, Bozner did a great a job of beating his man down the floor and outworking opponents on the glass. Solid in the post, Bozner also showed signs of a face-up game.
Chance Carter, 6-5 combo forward, Loyola (IL), 2010: A teammate of the Jordan brothers last season, Carter used Breakout as an opportunity to show what he can do, namely rebound the ball and finish on the inside. Perhaps his familiarity with the settings helped—not only does his AAU team practice there, but the skilled and physical forward’s part-time job is working at the Joy of the Game.
Demondre Chapman, 6-5 wing, Carman-Ainsworth (MI), 2010: A strong wing with good athleticism, Chapman was very active and physical.
Jalen Courtney, 6-8 post, Piney Woods (MS), 2010: A long and active big man with good bounce, Courtney ran the floor like a guard and showed off his potential future on the wing. His bread and butter, however, was rebounding the ball, blocking shots and finishing with authority on the interior.
Lucas Devenny, 6-8 post, Piner (CA), 2009: Devenny, a big-bodied banger, played with a lot of passion at the camp, often moving other players around in his wake. The powerful post hit the boards hard and was an overall physical presence on the inside.
Reger Dowell, 6-0 point guard, North Dallas (TX), 2009: The Dallas native, built like a running back, used his nice court vision and a crisp handle to get his teammates the rock, but also showed he could score, especially with his effective floater. Extremely quick, Dowell also played sticky D and was dynamite in transition.
CJ Fair, 6-6 wing, City College (MD), 2010: Although being rail-thin, the Baltimore wing didn’t shy away from contact on his many successful forays to the hoop, both in the open court and from the wing. Showing off a good handle, nice outside touch and court vision, Fair also used his length to finish at the rack, hit the boards and be a presence on defense.
Anthony Fields, 5-10 point guard, Lake Orion (MI), 2010: Fields, a poised set-up point guard, preferred to get his teammates involved rather than force the action. A quick penetrator, he used creativity and a good-looking stroke to get his own offense going when called for.
Demetrius Ford, 6-0 point guard, Cody (MI), 2009: An aggressive and explosive point guard with a tight handle, Ford got into the lane at will to create for himself and his teammates, but kept the defense honest with his pull-up J. He also used his athleticism to hounds opposing guards on D, as well as help out on the boards.
Sterling Gibbs, 5-9 point guard, Seton Hall Prep (NJ), 2011: The younger brother of recent Pitt commit Ashton Gibbs played with the experience and basketball IQ of a much older player. A true point guard who looked to pass first, Gibbs often used his quickness to put pressure on the defense and finish strong or drop floaters over the tall trees in the paint.
Erick Green, 6-3 wing, Millbrook (VA), 2009: A shooter with decent size, Green was effective both spotting up and when pulling up off the dribble. More than just a specialist, he also did a nice job of crashing the boards and scoring on the break.
Garland Green, 6-5 wing, Hightower (TX), 2009: The younger brother of the Celtics’ Gerald, Green was one of the best athletes at Breakout, using his hops to rebound and finish drives. While he’s not quite the shooter his brother is just yet, he did show he couldn’t be left open on the outside.
Fred Gulley, 6-2 point guard, Fayetteville (AR), 2009: Gulley, a big, defensive-minded point guard, made life very difficult (his name is Gulley) for whoever he defended. On offense, he used his quickness and strength to get into the paint whenever he wanted and find his teammates or finish strong, as well as knocking down mid-range jumpers and rebounding well for a guard.
Brady Heslip, 6-1 combo guard, Nelson (ON), 2010: The Canadian guard didn’t get as many touches as he could have, but when he did, it was usually money in the bank. The shooter also showed he could handle the rock, doing a nice job distributing to his teammates.
Cable Hogue, 6-7 post, Fayetteville (AR), 2009: Hogue, a physical player who doesn’t need touches to score, gave a tremendous effort on both sides of the ball. While he’s most effective in the paint, Hogue also showed the ability to make jumpers, pass and handle the ball.
Duran Hollis, 5-10 point guard, Polytechnic (TX), 2010: A blazing-quick point guard, Hollis is a pure playmaker who uses his handle to get wherever he wants on the floor. Solid defensively and with good range on his shot, Hollis’ passing ability may be the best aspect of his game.
Pe’Shon Howard, 6-2 combo guard, St. Edward’s (OH), 2010: Howard, a high school teammate of top-10 2008 prospect and Michigan State commit Delvon Roe, possessed one of the most mature games at Breakout. Physically imposing and polished, Howard handles the ball and passes like a point guard, slashes like an athletic wing, all the while shooting, defending and rebounding at a high level.
Joseph Jackson, 6-0 point guard, White Station (TN), 2010: One of the best pure scorers at the event, the matchup between Jackson and the aforementioned Howard was one of the best at the camp. The quick Memphis native gave everyone who checked him problems, as relentlessly drove to the basket or knocked down jumpers with a hand in his face.
Rahlir Jefferson, 6-7 wing, Chester (PA), 2009: Maybe I’m biased because I’ve seen him play a lot back home, but I believe Jefferson may have had the most potential of all the kids at Breakout. A Shawn Marion-type athlete with a huge wingspan and great athleticism, Jefferson is at times, dominant defensively and while he’s not a finished product on the offensive end, he snatched a rebound, pushed the rock coast to coast and finished with a high-rising bang more than once.
Adam Jones, 6-8 post, West Orange (FL), 2010: Jones, a developing post player, is still raw, but did a nice job on the boards and finishing on the inside. Long and active, Jones was also a presence on defense and ran the floor well.
Perry Jones, 6-9 post, Woodrow Wilson (TX), 2010: The Dallas native didn’t always get touches in the post, but when he did, it was easy to see why he’s already committed to the Big 12’s Baylor. Although he’s lacking significant muscle at this stage, Jones has all the tools—he runs the floor, finishes, rebounds and blocks shots—to develop into one of the better post players in his class.
Myck Kabongo, 6-0 point guard, St. Benedict’s (NJ), 2011: The quick and assertive Canadian floor general was very aggressive—not so much to look for his own shot, but to draw the D and find his teammates. Pesky on defense, Kabongo hounded opposing point guards the entire weekend.
Omari Lawrence, 6-5 wing, St. Raymond’s (NY), 2009: A smooth NYC native, Lawrence was among the most versatile campers, often running the offense on one end and grabbing a board on the other. Showcasing a polished mid-range game, nice athleticism and high basketball IQ, Lawrence excelled at getting into the lane and making plays.
Max Lenox, 6-2 wing, W.T. Woodson (VA), 2010: Perhaps the hardest-playing and most unselfish prospect at Breakout, Lenox played to win, not just make a name for himself. Constantly hustling and locking down on D, he also showed the ability to create his own offense, either via his jumper or drives to the hole.
Todd Mayo, 6-3 wing, South Point (OH), 2010: OJ’s little brother, reportedly a better football prospect, isn’t quite the same prospect the elder Mayo was at the same age (who is?), but has good potential. More of a pure slasher than OJ, he used his athleticism to get to the rim and finish strong.
Devon McMillan, 6-0 point guard, Lincoln (NY), 2010: Even though he was hampered by injuries, McMillan still managed to impress with his toughness and decision-making. Showing that NYC point guard flair, he got into the lane well and finished creatively.
Aalim Moor, 6-2 wing, St. Mary’s (CA), 2009: The Cali wing showed off a nice perimeter game, making spot-up and pull-up jumpers. A good rebounder from the wing, he also got to the rack when defenders played up on him.
Jesse Morgan, 6-4 combo guard, Prep Charter (PA), 2009: Morgan, a prospect whose game I’m very familiar, showed glimpses of his potential at Breakout, as he hit jumpers from deep and got into the lane to score. He also played excellent team ball, often exhorting his teammates, looking to distribute the rock and playing with high energy throughout.
Dominic Morris, 6-7 post, Caravel (DE), 2009: A Mike Beasley lookalike, Morris was hard to contain in the post. Hard to stop in the paint and a beast on the glass, the power player also ran the floor very well for his size and showed a surprisingly soft touch.
LeBryan Nash, 6-6 wing, undecided (TX), 2011: Nash, one of the top rising freshmen in the nation, looked like a man among boys—literally—as he used his strength to dominate the boards and in the post. Too physical for the majority of the comp and too skilled for the rest, the Dallas-area youngster (Oklahoma State guard Byron Eaton is his half-brother) also utilized his athleticism to finish at the rim, his perimeter skills on his slashes to the cup, and his outside touch to knock down mid-range jumpers.
Derrick Nix, 6-9 post, Murray-Wright (MI), 2009: A huge post player from Tractor Traylor’s alma mater, Nix has the same soft hands and quick feet as the former pro. While his conditioning could get better, he mixed finesse with power, as he displayed some pretty moves on the low block.
Julysses Nobles, 6-0 point guard, Piney Woods (MS), 2009: A quick penetrator that got into the lane with his tight handle, Nobles was at his best in transition. In the half court, he did more of the same, often unselfishly driving and dishing for assists.
Ashton Pankey, 6-8 post, Molloy (NY), 2010: Active on the inside on both ends, the Big Apple big man played extremely hard during Breakout. A good athlete with length and a touch out to 15 feet, Pankey seemed to relish the physical play in the paint, as well.
Kyle Randall, 6-0 combo guard, Kennedy Catholic (OH), 2009: One of the better shooters at the camp, Randall played within himself and didn’t force opportunities. A capable ballhandler, he did a nice job at spreading the ball around to teammates and driving when defenders played him for his automatic J.
Rashad Reeves, 6-1 combo guard, Finney (MI), 2010: The Detroit native showed he could knock down jumpers, but also finish strong at the rack. A quiet assassin, Reeves made a lot of plays off the ball and on the defensive end, as well.
JJ Richardson, 6-7 post, Hightower (TX), 2009: An athletic big man with a lot of energy, Richardson was a force on both ends of the boards. He finished extremely well on the inside, and showed signs of being able to make the transition to the wing, as he knocked down some jumpers.
Travis Robinson, 6-4 wing, Penn Charter (PA), 2010: A natural scorer, Robinson used his strength, athleticism and polished perimeter skills to drive to the hoop repeatedly, using angles and power. He also showed he could hit the outside J, contribute on the boards and be a primary ballhandler.
Jonathan Sharpless, 6-4 wing, Woodrow Wilson (TX), 2009: More of a glue guy than a scorer, Sharpless was a jack of all trades at Breakout. Hustling for loose balls, crashing the boards, scoring in transition, slashing from the wing, knocking down the mid-range J, handling and passing the rock—you name it—the Dallas native did a little bit of everything.
Jarred Shaw, 6-9 post, Carter (TX), 2009: Selected as an alternate to RBK U., “Big Slim” was a force on the boards and in the post. Shaw also showed off his versatility by running the floor to get buckets in transition, dropping dimes to teammates for easy looks, stepping out to hit jumpers and even putting the ball on the floor.
Marquavius Smith, 6-0 combo guard, Callaway (MS), 2011: An athletic slasher, I initially thought the aggressive guard was an older player because of his high motor and focused on-court demeanor. Smith went to the rack relentlessly, played pesky defense and made good decisions.
Stephon Smith, 6-7 combo forward, Jackson (MS), 2010: Originally from Louisiana, the big-bodied Smith was hard for defenders to contain on the interior, with his skills and touch around the basket and on the glass. Already developing a nice perimeter game, he also did damage when facing the basket from the wing.
Matthew Staff, 6-8 post, Memorial (TX), 2009: With good size and nice face-up skills, Staff took advantage of the big men trying guard him when he got touches. The Houston-area prospect also did a nice job on the boards.
James Terrell, 6-2 combo guard, Cummings (NC), 2010: Simply put, Terrell shot lights out at the event, knocking down jumpers from all over the court. His Mohawk and shooting weren’t the only things that made him stand out, however, as the energetic guard also consistently got to the rack and finished with flair.
Tristan Thompson, 6-8 combo forward, St. Benedict’s (NJ), 2010: The Canadian prospect (nicknamed “Mr. Five Minutes” by his AAU coach Ro Russell of Grassroots Canada, for how long college coaches watch him before offering a scholarship), may have had the most potential of all the players at the event. Remarkably polished for his age, Thompson has big-time skills in the post, dominates the boards and uses his length to swat shots on D—in addition shooting, passing and handling the ball like a guard, especially in transition.
John Wall, 6-2 point guard, Word of God (NC), 2009: Maybe the fastest player at Breakout (the legendary Greg “Shoes” Vetrone told me he had “NBA speed”), the previously unheralded was virtually unguardable at the camp, using his sharp handle, tremendous athleticism and J to score whenever he wanted. On top of that, the other half of the North Carolina Mohawk duo played hard the entire time, distributed the ball nicely and played lockdown D.
Kevin Williams, 6-3 wing, Pearland (TX), 2010: A strong Houston-area wing, Williams was extremely aggressive and wasn’t afraid to throw his body around. A good rebounder for his size and effective at getting to the rim, he also possesses a nice pull-up game.
Trey Zeigler, 6-4 wing, Mount Pleasant (MI), 2010: The son of Ernie Zeigler, the head coach at Central Michigan, is a prototypical coach’s son. A fundamentally-sound, well-built wing with a high basketball IQ, Zeigler also possesses a strong mid-range game, defensive intensity and solid athleticism, which he uses on the boards and on slashing drives to the bucket.
Before I leave, I wanted to shout out the people at UNDRCRWN and adidas for the event in Philly I briefly attended about two weeks ago, promoting the adidas x UNDRCRWN “It Takes Five” collection. If you don’t know about UNDRCRWN, check out their stuff here.
Also, best wishes to Herb Pope in his recovery from getting shot. Thumbs-down to Reggie Theus for leaving New Mexico State. Although I can’t really argue with the move, the kid needs some consistency in his life. If you’ve never seen him play, trust me when I say that he’s easily a top-10 player in the ’07 class, strictly based on talent. But as we all know, talent isn’t the only part of the game.