All eyes turn to shoe camps
Kevin Love shocked the recruiting world when he broke ties with Nike for the chance to face Greg Oden at the Reebok ABCD camp last year.
A couple of guards may be plotting a similar move as the three big shoe camps begin this week.
"A lot of great head-to-head battles always take place at the ABCD camp and with the No. 1-ranked player, O.J. Mayo, set to be there talk is that Derrick Rose and Jerryd Bayless (ranked No. 3 and No. 9), may come to the ABCD camp instead of the Nike camp to square off against O.J." Rivals.com recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer said.
Rivals.com will be providing in-depth coverage of the ABCD camp (July 4-9) in Teaneck, N.J., the Nike All-American camp in Indianapolis (July 5-9) and the Adidas Superstar camp (July 6-9) in Suwanee, Ga. Each event attracts a deep crop of major prospects and has different formats.
The ABCD camp might produce the biggest news off-the-court. Mayo is expected to announce where he is committing and rumors are flying that he will choose Southern Cal.
"I wouldn't be surprised if Bill Walker (the No. 2-ranked prospect and Mayo's prep and AAU teammate) makes an announcement too and heads to Kansas State," Meyer said. "We're going to find out if a lot of these rumors hold true."
There will be a lot of buzz following Mayo, Walker and many of the high-profile prospects at the ABCD camp on the court as well. The prestigious event is arguably the most entertaining, often producing games loaded with acrobatic dunks, flashy plays and fast-paced tempos.
"Much of the appeal of the ABCD camp is the ruckus, street-type of environment," Meyer said. "The players are given a lot of freedom, but a lot of times that leads to some local point guard from New York City taking way too many shots and not giving the ball up."
Some of the other prospects to watch include a pair of commitments: five-star small forward Evan Turner (Ohio State) and four-star point guard Johnny Flynn (Syracuse).
Turner, who is used to playing in a more structured system with his AAU team the Illinois Wolves, enters with something to prove after failing to thrive at the recent NBPA camp. Flynn's stock is on the rise after leading the United States to the U-18 title on Sunday and he chose to come to Teaneck for the chance to make a bigger name for himself and make a big move up the rankings.
The heated debate over just who is the top prospect in the class of 2008 could be ultimately decided at the Nike camp. A handful of big-name juniors will be there, including guard Tyreke Evans, small forward Greg Monroe and big men Samardo Samuels and Al-Farouq Aminu.
"The race for that top spot in 2008 has been wide open and we could get a lot of answers in Indianapolis," Rivals.com analyst Justin Young said. "There is a door that needs to be knocked down and there are four or five prospects who could knock it right over."
The Nike camp will also have a big impact on the 2007 rankings. Twelve of the top 25 seniors are expected to be there, including Kyle Singler (No. 6), Herb Pope (No. 10), Kosta Koufos (No. 12), Michigan State-commit Kalin Lucas (No. 13), Syracuse-commit Donte Green (No. 15) and Gary Johnson (No. 24), who committed to Texas on Monday.
Those big names will be playing a more disciplined brand of basketball, similar to what they will experience in college.
"The Nike camp requires three passes before taking a shot, so players are forced to share the ball and play fundamentally sound basketball for the most part," Young said. "You don't have a bunch of guys jacking up ill-advised shots."
That style could favor savvy point guard Jamelle McMillan and will also offer an opportunity for center Solomon Alabi to prove he is one of the nation's top post players.
"Jamelle could really open up some eyes. He's played well this summer and he's the type of big guard that seems to thrive in a system," Young said. "Solomon has played really, really well and enters this camp with a lot of momentum after his phenomenal performance at the NBPA camp. We'll be watching how he matches up with the other top big men."
If you're one of the top prospects on the West Coast chances are you're hading to the Adidas camp. The event has lured away three of the highest-ranked commits from California – small forwards Jamelle Horne (Arizona) and Austin Daye (Gonzaga) and power forward Craig Brackins (Iowa State).
Fellow Californian, point guard Jrue Holiday, who is also vying for the top-ranked spot in the class of 2008, is also heading to the Adidas camp, along with another high-profile junior Luke Babbitt, a promising power forward from Reno, Nev.
"This is only the third year for the Adidas camp, but this could be its strongest field ever," Meyer said. "A lot of the top west coast prospects will be there."
Return to Rivals.com for the latest news from each camp.