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June 22, 2007
NBPA camp: Friday morning action
Center of attention
There was a five minute stretch where Florida center Kenny Kadji looked like a sure fire lock for the post-season all-star games. The 6-foot-10 big man went to work against the opposing big men with a great spin move to the basket for a two-hand flush. He utilized a great pivot move on the baseline to score buckets. He was simply unstoppable when he got his hands on the basketball and scored at will down low. Kadji finished with 14 points in an important morning victory.
The class of 2008 boasts a number of talented centers that either push the 7-foot mark or stand above it. B.J. Mullens, a true 7-footer, sits atop the Rivals.com center rankings, and after seeing the glimpses of pro moves he's made this week, it's doubtful he'll fall from that spot. Mullens has a great soft touch as a jump shooter and even scored when he wanted with a fade away jumper. The big man finished with 14 points in the morning game. He still needs to string the potential moments into production quarters and halves.
Georgetown bound big man Henry Sims showed a little flash of brilliance against Mullens. The long post player only put in six points but he didn't back down to challenging the massive Mullens on the blocks and oftentimes worked with him step for step down low. Sims did a fine job down low against Mullens' length and blocked shots and grabbed a couple of key rebounds. It wasn't a wow you game but it was Sims's all around game that stood out.
Long time AAU teammates and friends Kevin Jones and Mookie Jones (no relation) work so well together and in this setting, the pair can find each other a little easier than others on the same team. Both have inside-out capabilities and both are two of the tougher players to defend because of their versatility. Kevin scored 10 points and knocked down a couple of three-pointers in the afternoon game and grabbed four rebounds. Mookie only put in four points but the way he did it caused problems for the opposition.
Four-star forwards Matt Simpkins and Chris Singleton paired up with each other and both bouncy forwards gave each other a couple of things to think about. Simpkins didn't shrink away from playing a physical game that Singleton wanted to play. He posted up the Georgian and scored on the long prospect to the tune of 12 points with a couple of short range jumpers and scores off of put backs. Singleton put in seven points.
Kenny Gabriel is having himself a good week in Charlottesville. The lanky 6-foot-7 forward from North Carolina is amongst the top scorers and rebounders in the camp. He's doing the dirty work and showing an ability to hit the boards on defense and hit shots on the wing. Gabriel is putting in the work to earn more offers from ACC schools. If coaches were here, odds are he'd probably get what he's been coveting.
Guards get it rolling
Another game, another confident performance from NorCal's Elston Turner. The 6-foot-3 combo guard scored 10 points in the morning session and controlled the pace with his understanding of the game, unselfishness and grittiness. Last night he scored 19 points. In another game, he grabbed 10 rebounds. Not a bad couple of days of work for the Rivals150 guard.
Rotnei Clarke has struggled to get his shots in two days of action so when the ball hit his hands, he went to work on his own. Clark did some good things with the dribble to put himself into position to score points, 12 to be exact which is twice as much as he has scored all camp long. On one possession against Kemba Walker, renown defender, Clark drove baseline, dribbled behind his back to move closer to the middle of the floor and put up a gorgeous floater.
Odds & Ends
The floors were moving a little more than usual as four behemoths clashed in the morning session. Xavier bound center Kenny Frease (6-11, 270) locked up with Cincinnati bound forward Yancy Gates (6-8, 240) in one rotation. In the other rotation, Rivals150 forward Christian Morris (6-9, 270) traded post plays with Oklahoma rising junior Daniel Orton (6-10, 250).
Rising junior Richard Howell scored 21 points in the morning game. He scored 24 combined points over four games before his big outburst.
Arizona bound guards Brendon Lavender had his best game of the camp, scoring on three three-pointers to the tune of nine points.
Iowa bound guard Matt Gatens looked a lot like he did in the spring with his Martin Brothers club, hitting shots and doing work with the dribble. He finished with 13 points in his morning game.
Top scorers per game
1. Noel Johnson 14
Top rebounders per game
1. Kyle Hardrick 5.8
Top assists per game
1. Isaiah Thomas 4