TEANECK, N.J. - It was all-star Sunday at the Reebok ABCD camp at Farleigh Dickinson University and the stars came out to play, particularly in the underclassmen division. Daequan Cook, O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker put up the points while Gerald Green and Bradon Rush played the clean-up role perfectly. Every day at the camp provided fireworks and Sunday was no different.
Leave it to the top dogs to rise to the occasion and set the tone for a great weekend of hoops. Daequan Cook led the East with 21 points en route to a 135-132 thrilling victory. Cook has one of the sweetest jump shots in the class of 2006 and knows how to show it off at just the right time. Athletically, he’s there, too. He had a quiet couple of days but the all-star game was nice to see him at his best. Don’t discount his nine rebounds, either.
Note to SportsCenter: you may want to start your O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker highlight collection now. There were plenty of opportunities on Sunday afternoon. Case in point, the closing seconds of the game. Mayo, the all-everything point guard from Cincinnati had the opposing Willie Kemp at the top of the key and put on a dribbling clinic. Mayo rocked his dribble between his legs, put on cross-over and whipped a pass to Walker under the basket.
Wait, there’s more. Walker than threw down a 360 dunk from a near stand still just before the buzzer sounded. Words probably won’t do it justice. The College Hill High School duo know each other’s moves like parents know their children’s tendencies and it shows. Mayo had a fantastic game, scoring 19 points, pulling seven rebounds and dishing out five assists.
Walker had a game-high 22 points on 10 of 14 shooting from the floor. Actually, it was more like from the air. The freak athlete absolutely skies for dunks and does it as often as he can. Slowly, he’s developing an outside jumper and has good post moves. He used a two-dribble move from 10 feet in and used the glass from the wing.
Rob Thomas, a 6-foot-6 wing forward from St. Thomas More (Conn.), added 18 points by mostly attacking the basket and getting out on the break. Lance Thomas, a 6-foot-8 small forward from New Jersey (no relation), put in 17 and capped off a strong weekend of play. His mid-range game is his money maker.
North Carolina youngster Eric Wallace started strong and played strong. The 6-foot-6 well-built class of 2007 stud pitched in with 15 points. NC State has offered and don’t be surprised to see North Carolina and other high-majors to start early with him. He’s a big-timer.
Speaking of big-timers, Derrick Caracter didn’t get a chance to match up with Greg Oden, who suffered an ankle injury, but the New Jersey center still played well. He added 11 points and capped off a dazzling camp.
With his afro picked out, Miami forward Dwayne Collins looked a lot like Ben Wallace and when the ball tipped, the rising junior almost played like him, too. Collins was a great surprise, although his Team Breakdown coaches have been touting his abilities to us forever. Collins made believers everywhere.
For the West, Curtis Kelly played the role of Lamar Odom. Kelly, a gangly 6-foot-8 forward from the Bronx, did a little bit of everything and wants to handle the ball and play the wing. While it may not be the best idea, for now, he’s still learning the position. He had a solid 14 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals.
Call Keenan Ellis the Randolph Morris of the D-One Greyhounds. As the third member of the ultra-talented class of 2007 trio (Mayo and Walker are the other two), Ellis can be looked over because of the talent around him, much like Morris was last year amongst Dwight Howard and Josh Smith. Ellis, at 6-foot-11, is the best shot-blocking big man in his class and he’s developing his jump shot along the way. He scored 10 points in the loss.
Florida rising sophomore Edwin Rios has a great looking step back three but sometimes luck is on your side, too. The 6-foot point guard tried to throw an alley-oop to a cutting Mayo but the pass was long from near half-court and went off the glass for three.
California wing Chase Budinger gave the Northeast a taste of what he does best in the west. The volleyball superstar moonlighted as a tough small forward and got the energetic crowd’s respect with is reverse alley-oop dunk.
Like the youngsters before them, the upperclassmen scored a ton of points, mostly on dunks and transition basketball. There were some notable moments and with a score 178-167, there are plenty to choose from.
Gerald Green and Jeremy Pargo were named the Most Valuable Players for the West squad. Green was the Rivals.com Most Impressive Player of the tournament, too. He scored 27 points, cleared four rebounds and dished out three assists while shooting 12 of 16 from the floor, including three trifectas. That was the story with the Oklahoma State bound shooting guard.
What a weekend for the 6-foot-8 recruit. Cowboy fans get ready because he’ll make Stillwater a fun place in the future. With his deep range, deadly midrange game, bouncy first step, high release on his jumper and his high-flying act, Green is the full package.
Pargo ran the high-octane offense by dishing out eight assists and helped his teammates out by scoring 21 points, too. The Chicago native has been riding high at the individual camps and winning with his Illinois Fire AAU squad, too. He’s making believers out of a programs and the offers could be coming.
On the other side of the ball, Byron Eaton put together one heck of a camp. The Dallas (Texas) Lincoln High School point guard was named his team MVP thanks to his 16 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. The bull of a floor general solidified himself as one of the elite point guards in the nation here in Jersey. He can play in the half court, in transition and muscles his way through the lane when the play falls apart. His jump shot snapped the twine a couple of times, too. His great court sense can be attributed to his time on the gridiron as one of the top quarterbacks in the country.
Eaton said he’s not worried about picking a school for the moment but expect to see high-majors at every one of his Dallas Mustangs games from here until the end of July. It’s going to be fun to watch teams battle it out.
Brandon Rush capped his week at the ABCD with a MVP performance with 21 points, with a dozen or so on his trademark dunks. Camp all-star games are Rush’s style. His shines in transition by defying physics and plays to the demanding crowd with his athleticism. Rush was watched closely by NBA scouts as he continues to sit on the fence regarding the idea of going to the big leagues or stay at the collegiate level for a year or two.
After starting the AAU season off a little slow as the No. 1 player in the class of 2005, Tasmin Mitchell came to play in the spotlight of the New York media and the other usual suspects at the shoe camps. The 6-foot-7 small forward is extending his game from the paint to the perimeter, knocking down (and nearly perfecting) the 12 foot jumper and the occasional three point bucket. He finished with 17 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Recent Louisville commitment Amir Johnson had a fantastic week and didn’t let up in the final game. He shined in the post, using both hands at the bucket and stepped it up defensively. He might be the best recruit in the class of 2005 for the Cardinals. Getting a big man like Johnson was key. Want proof? Look at this final stat line: 17 points, six rebounds, five blocks, three steals on eight of nine shooting.
Another Johnson, Marcus to be exact, was the highest rated scorer in terms of field goal percentage all week. That didn’t change in the nightcap. The California small forward got into the act with his trademark vertical jump and wowed everyone with his antics.
North Carolina recruit Bobby Frasor is the epitome of half-court, structured offense. So when he came out and played with more flair than usual in the all-star game, it was a bit of a surprise. The Chicago guard dropped nine assists with some impressive lob passes and connected on all four of his three point attempts en route to 14 points.
Shawn Taggart is going to be a sought after recruit going into a prep year of school. He’s a big man (6-foot-11) with great athleticism that loves to run the floor, block shots and rebound the basketball. The class of 2005 doesn’t boast many guys like him. He earned his stripes this week.
Stay logged on to Rivals.com for final thoughts from the ABCD camp.