TEANECK, N.J. - Saturday was why the shoe camp all-star camps are so appealing to coaches, fans and talent evaluators. The top names went head to head at the Reebok ABCD camp and boy did they put on a show. Derrick Caracter squared off against Greg Oden while Gerald Green met up with Tasmin Mitchell.
Caracter, the No. 4 player in the class of 2006 from Fanwood, N.J., was pinned against Oden, the 7-foot all-everything prospect from Indianapolis who doubles as the best high school player in the country. After the young duo squared off in a less than moving match up at the Kingwood Classic, Saturday's meeting lived up to the billing.
Caracter, who looks fit at 6-foot-9, 282-pounds, shined in his home state. He scored 19 points in his Warriors' team 71-66 thrilling victory over Oden's Jazz. Oden was contained for the first time since last summer, scoring only six points and grabbing four rebounds. Caracter used a combination of brute strength inside, getting to the foul line often and smart moves. His passing is so strong, too. On one play, he threw a pass in between Oden's legs to a cutting Chris Lowe for the easy layup.
Oden did not have a chance to do his normal damage around the rim thanks to Caracter and two of his teammates. Marquis Young, all 6-foot-9, 275-pounds of him and Curtis Kelly. Young, a Chicago native, secured 15 rebounds and 11 points while Kelly added 10 points by showing off great footwork and impressive ball-handling skills.
Taylor King was a bright spot for the Jazz, scoring a team-high 16 points. The rising sophomore has put together one heck of a camp. He's knocking down his trademark threes but he's also putting the ball on the floor and creating space with one of two dribbles. The UCLA early commitment is also rebounding, passing and playing smart basketball.
Gerald Green might possibly be the best player in the camp. The 6-foot-8, 195-pound shooting guard is rounding out his game and showing that he's the total package. The recent Oklahoma state commitment did a great job of getting the outlet pass on the fast break, he's showing that he can rebound like a big timer and his midrange game is making him a deadly offensive weapon.
The Houston product poured in 25 points against Tasmin Mitchell in the evening session of games. Mitchell, in his own right, had a big game, scoring 21 points and pulling down six rebounds. The 6-foot-7 small forward put in 19 points in the earlier game and had his best day of the camp. Mitchell has shown that his 10 foot shot is his bread and butter while his perimeter game is developing into an added bonus. The current No. 1 player on the Rivals150 has been up and down this year. On Saturday, he reminded everyone of why he is held in such high regard.
Green also matched up with class of 2007 prospect Bill Walker, matching together two of the most athletic players in the nation. While Green had his memorable moments above the rim, Walker won the dunk contest. The Cincinnati product threw down a number of his trademark dunks but he also connected on a pair of three pointers, something that he needs to improve upon. Nevertheless, the Bill Walker that played so well at the NBA Players Association camp was back for Saturday's mid-afternoon game.
Andre Blatche was simply non-existent in the first set of games on Saturday by putting up a goose egg in the scoring column and only rebounding one shot. But just when you wanted to label his day as a complete disappointment, the 6-foot-10 forward scored 13 points and reeled in 9 rebounds in the evening game. With the top spot in the class of 2005 clearly open for the taking, it has been disappointing seeing him not rise to the occassion and snatch it up with a big time performance at the ABCD.
People say camps such as this are designed for fast breaking guards that love to score in transition. That's perfect for Texas point guard Jovan Adams. But the Jovan Adams we are accustomed to seeing didn't show up. No, the 6-foot, 185-pound floor general was dropping assists to his talented teammates, he played solid defense on O.J. Mayo and played a nice half-court game.
In baseball, there are the five-tool players. The ones that do everything - hit for average and power, run the base paths, play the field and show off a cannon of an arm. In basketball there is Danny Green. The 6-foot-5 guard from Manhasset, N.Y., scored 26 points, pulled 10 rebounds and had three assists in a blowout win. Green is one of the top performers at the camp and his recruitment will increase even more after July. The kid just wins and he's incredibly smart when it comes to the game.
Helping Green succeed was rising junior Rob Thomas, who is having himself one heck of a camp. The 6-foot-5 St. Thomas More (Conn.) product is putting up the points and is the only underclassmen in the top ten scoring totals. He's a crafty sucker that puts in the buckets in a variety of ways. There is no doubt he's a high major player.
One of the nice surprises has been the play of 6-foot-9 big man John Garcia out of Bay Shore, N.Y. He's a tough son of a gun that battles hard for boards and fights for every one of his points. Schools that need toughness inside should look no further than him.
Top Ten Scorers 1. Gerald Green, 18.2 2. Monta Ellis, 16.7 3. Charles Little, 16.0 4. Leo Criswell, 15.5 5. Rob Thomas, 15.3 6. Nate Minnoy, 15.2 7. Danny Green, 14.8 8. Dior Lowhorn, 14.7 8. Tasmin Mitchell, 14.7 8. Davon Jefferson, 14.7
Top Ten Rebounders 1. Johnnie Lett, 6.8 2. Marquis Young, 6.7 2. Lawrence Hill 6.7 3. Cameron Lewis, 6.3 4. Greg Oden, 6.2 4. Dior Lowhorn, 6.2 4. Shawne Williams, 6.2 4. Leo Criswell, 6.2 4. Jeremiah Bryant, 6.2 4. Chris Bethel, 6.2
Top Ten Assists 1. Scott Weisenfeld, 4.3 2. Marcus Walker, 4.0 3. Marcus Lawrence, 3.7 4. Andre McGee, 3.5 5. O.J. Mayo, 3.3 5. Kyle McAlarney, 3.3 5. Jay Dee Luster, 3.3 6. Will Walker, 3.2 6. Eugene Harvey, 3.2 6. Mike Conley, 3.2