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June 23, 2007

NBPA camp: Friday night notes

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The end is drawing near at the NBA Players Association camp and the participants are playing with a purpose and with the playoffs on their minds.

Must see match-up

Two of the camp's top big man Tyler Zeller against B.J. Mullens was the main attraction on Friday night. However, as it is usually the case, the pairing only provided a few moments of enjoyment between the five-stars.

Zeller didn't shy away from playing a physical game with his counterpart and beat Mullens down the floor time and time again. Both big men showed off a left-handed offensive game but other than a traded pair of buckets, neither center really got into a flow.

The real steal of the show was Kentucky forward Darius Miller, who took it to another gear. The four-star forward flew to the basket, where he did a fine job of grabbing offensive rebounds, scoring above the rim, challenging others as a shot-blocker and setting the tone for how the game would be played.

At this stage of the camp, guys are finding opportunities to really put their stamp on the camp and Miller's showing with a lot of eyes watching seemed to stick with the packed house of on-lookers.

Making a statement

Andre Clark showed why he is such a hot commodity late in the game. The class of 2007 prospect has been aching for a good game at the camp and he finally got it on Friday night. Clark, a 6-foot-8 forward from Little Rock, Ark., had it rolling as he was knocking down mid-range shots, running the floor, playing above the rim and displaying a high-energy that he otherwise didn't show the first couple of days of camp. In fact, his showing was one of the best performances on Friday.

Yancy Gates exited his three-point strategy and went to work around the basket where he was able to use his big body to power his way to two-handed flushes. When the strong-bodied Cincinnati bound big man uses his natural gifts down low, he's at his most effective. He simply outplayed his counterpart Samardo Samuels.

Speaking of using his size, Christian Morris was just too hard to contain three feet around the basket. The big boy, all 270-pounds of him, were too hard to contain. He secured the entry passes that came his way, he grabbed offensive boards and finished everything down low.

Iman Shumpert was doing what he does best. The Chicago suburb kid was a precision artist from the perimeter hitting long balls. His shots didn't touch any part of the rim and popped the bottom of the net. The four-star guard is an efficient pick and roll artist. Shumpert is tapping into the minds of the coaches and pro players here and maximizing his experience.

Odds & Ends

Assane Sene, a 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward from Senegal deserves mentioning. He's a guy to watch in 2008 because of his raw potential. Sene has proven himself as an instinctual rebounder and shot-blocker. On Friday, he scored on a couple of turn around hook shots. He'll be playing with the New Heights AAU club in July and suiting up at South Kent during the high school year.

The 7:30 games ended with a pair of buzzer-beating beauties. Clemson commitment Cashmere Wright raced down the floor with four seconds to play to help his team win it's first game of the camp. He and his squad played with a sense of urgency and finally walked away victorious.

Kemba Walker hit a 30 foot jumper to tie the game at the buzzer to send the game to overtime. After a back and forth battle in the two minute extra period, the game went to sudden death. Xavier Henry scored off the tip to help give his team the victory.

Recruiting tidbits

Long Island point guard Terrell Holloway said he is hearing from Marquette, St. John's, Texas A&M, West Virginia, Virginia, Memphis and Houston.

After watching his brother Miles committed to Stanford on Thursday, Mason Plumlee was quick to also list the Pac-10 school. North Carolina, Georgetown, Indiana, Xavier, Vanderbilt and Miami are also being considered, he said.

Versatile California wing Renaldo Wooldridge has a pair of offers from Pepperdine and Arizona State that he's strongly considering while Marquette, Maryland and Texas are also high on the list. Colorado and Oregon State have also offered.

Assane Sene said he has heard from UCLA, Florida, Washington, Miami and Virginia since coming over to the United States. He participated in Virginia's elite camp a couple of weeks ago.

Long and athletic class of 2009 big man Dashonte Riley said the recruiting process is just beginning to heat up. Michigan, Michigan State and Kansas State have jumped into the race early.

AAU mate Draymond Green isn't playing in the event because of a sprained ankle. He did happen to talk about his recruitment. Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Indiana are on the short list. Green is visiting Ohio State on Tuesday.

A trip to Illinois in two weeks is in the works for North Carolina point guard Damier Pitts. He's enjoyed a steady week of work here at the camp. Virginia Tech, West Virginia and South Carolina are on his short list as well.

The list is growing longer and long for North Carolina forward Kenny Gabriel. The scholarships are still regulated to mid-majors like Virginia Commonwealth, East Carolina, High Point and most recently high-major Miami. Wake Forest, Clemson, Charlotte, Xavier, Marquette, Indiana, Georgia and Boston College will all be watching him closely in July.

Illinois sharp-shooter Matt Roth is down to Bradley, Saint Louis and Wichita State. Roth said he has yet to visit Wichita State and wants to do so before making his official decision.



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