Last month, Denver Nuggets’ forward, Will Barton, held his annual elite camp in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. In its inception, Barton’s camp was attended primarily by players from Baltimore with a few out of area prospects sprinkled in. Now in its sixth year, the camp has grown to the point where it is now drawing not only Charm City’s finest, but also elite prospects from as far as Texas, Kentucky, Philadelphia, and North Carolina. Barton’s camp also draws what seems to be a family reunion of Baltimore basketball royalty with players such as former St. John’s star, Marcus Hatten, former UMass standout, Donta Bright, and former George Washington floor general, Shawnta Rodgers, all lending a helping hand.
Barton stated, “It’s always been a dream, a vision I had, since I was a kid, that when I made it to the NBA, to give back to the youth, and the up and coming basketball players to give ‘em something I never had. To give them a venue to compete against the best players in the city. And now it’s gotten big enough where we got kids from Philly, D.C, and Jersey- all around. Last year, we had a kid from Brazil. Just to be able to share my wisdom, my experiences, my upbringing, what I went through in high school, college and now the NBA, because I know that’s their ultimate goal. So being able to interact with them, show them my work habits, and just to give them knowledge.”
Barton and his camp put heavy emphasis on holistically developing the young men that attended his camp, so it structured into two components. Day 1 consisted of an off court component where the campers had guest speakers who spoke to them about various topics. The session on Peer Pressure was facilitated by former Baltimore high school phenomenon, Aquille Carr, while other segments such as Academic Eligibility/Social Media Etiquette and Professionalism were led by former University standout and college coach Keith Booth and Will Barton, respectively.
The second day was the on-court component. Players were split into groups by positions and rotated to different stations at each basket. The stations were followed by a series of controlled scrimmages. Here are some of the prospects that stood out:
Donta Scott, 6-7, SF, Imhotep Institute Charter (PA), 2019:
If there were an ideal basketball prototype, Donta Scott would certainly fit the bill. Scott is the perfect combination of size, skill, and intensity bottled into his 6’7 frame. Although he’S listed as a small forward, Scott’s on-court prowess refuses to let itself be defined by a position. In other words, Donta Scott is simply a player. During Saturday’s on-court component, Scott’s versatility on both ends of the court was evident. Defensively, he has the ability to effectively guard the perimeter, and could even defend some taller players in the post. On the offensive end, Scott did whatever he wanted. On Saturday, he continuously grabbed defensive rebounds and started fast breaks himself – which led to baskets for him or a teammate. When the pace of the games slowed, Scott consistently hit three point shots or scored in the post on smaller defenders. Although he’s only rated as a 3 star player, Scott has the skill and potential to contribute right away at any mid to high level program.
Zac Ervin, 6-5, SG, Gate City High School (VA), 2019:
Oftentimes, players who aren’t ball-dominant or overly athletic tend to go unnoticed in a camp setting. This wasn’t the case for Zac Ervin. Ervin’s shooting ability was most apparent during game play. He had a lightning-quick release, and was able to connect from anywhere behind the arc. As he played more games, Ervin consistently showed a knack for making the right play at the right time – whether it would be a timely pass to a teammate, by getting a layup via a back door cut to the basket, or playing solid defense.
Eric Dixon, 6-7, PF, Abington High School (PA), 2019:
Dixon’s style of play is a refreshing break of the current trend of post players who prefer to play away from the basket. Throughout game play, Dixon combined his bruising physique to punish defenders in the paint. Whenever he wasn’t able to impose his will because he was being guarded by bigger, taller defenders, Dixon relied on his surplus of offensive moves in the low and mid post to score. For a player of his size, Dixon has amazing footwork which allowed him to execute different moves like turnaround jump shots, or sky hooks. He also relentlessly out-rebounded players who had several inches on him. The Villanova commit will be fun to watch in his senior season as he is poised to lead his team to district and state title runs.
James Bishop, 6-3, G, Mount St. Joseph High School (MD), 2019:
While most players in today’s game rely solely on their athleticism to score, James Bishop uses a combination of both his athleticism and craftiness to get the job done. During Saturday’s session, opposing defenders had a difficult time keeping him in front of them. When played too closely, Bishop would lull his defender to sleep then blow by him. In the open court, he consistently made pull-up three pointers when he noticed his defender backing up as he attacked. While it was readily evident that Bishop could score at all three levels, what was most impressive was that he knew when to execute his moves in order to score.
Olivier Nkamhoua, 6-8, F, Bishop Walsh (MD), 2019:
There are some players who can have plays ran for them, or must be put into position to be effective on the court. Then there are others, like combo forward Olivier Nkamhoua, who can be impactful by simply using their natural ability. Throughout the controlled scrimmages, Nkamhoua seemed to stay in perpetual motion on both ends of the court. He seemed most comfortable scoring on drives to basket in half court sets, and rebounded the ball well whether in and out of his area. Defensively, he showed lateral quickness when defending the perimeter, and displayed the necessary toughness to fortify the post. Although some wouldn’t consider outworking their opponent to be a skill, it is definitely an inherent trait that could transfer onto the court. If he continues to sharpen his jumper and his offensive moves, Nkamhoua could wind up being a steal for mid to high major program.
Players of Intrigue:
Tymu Cherney, 6-5 WF Episcopal Academy (PA) 2020: Played well in transition, displayed a good feel for the game, plays above the rim
Efton Reid, 7-0, C, Steward School (VA), 2021: Skilled, traditional, back to the basket post player, can shoot from 15 ft., long pterodactyl-like wingspan, ran the floor well
John Okiako, 6-10, C, Wesley Christian (KY), 2020: Strong, athletic, aggressive post; played with reckless abandon; decent hands , dunked whenever he got the chance
Josaphat Bilau, 6-10, F, Quality Education (NC), 2019: Skilled athletic forward, played inside and out; oozing with potential
Photo Credit: Carese Jaron