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June 22, 2007

NBPA Camp: Thursday night notes

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The NBA Players Association camp rolls on and Thursday provided on-lookers with a couple of big time performances from some of the top players in the field.

Strong play continues from camp's stars

Tyler Zeller came to camp a day late because of previous obligations back home in Indiana. It took him a game to get his feet under him and then the big man took over. The five-star center displayed a full package of skills that quite simply most centers in the class of 2008 simply don't posses. He sprinted up the floor, caught tough passes with his soft hands and finished around the cup. Zeller finished with 16 points in the nightcap paired up against fellow 7-footer Kenny Frease and every made bucket was pretty.

We made the disclaimer that Elliot Williams would be written about quite a bit this week. Here it goes again. The Memphis area guard poured in a night-high 21 points and didn't go down without a fight in a tough two-point loss. He went down swinging until the final buzzer and put on a scoring display that few have given so far in the camp.

Xavier Henry played the first three sessions of games with his knock around, casual shoes because his luggage was lost en route to Richmond, an hour and a half away. After a long delay to get his belongings, Henry shined without his hoops shoes. His go-to pair showed up on Thursday afternoon. If they work as his good luck charm, the camp might have the clear cut, hands down best player doing some damage. Henry has been outstanding so far and everyone involved with the camp are praising his play and approach to the game.

Things continue to roll for Georgia wing Tony Mitchell. The bouncy wing forward scored 18 points in the evening session. He's great at the rim and good from deep. Once he develops a pull up jump shot in the mid range, watch out. Mitchell is already a deadly offensive threat.

One of the highlights of the day was watching the point guard match-up of Kemba Walker, a recent UConn commit, against Dashan Harris of Florida. The two point guards operate in a high gear and both went at each other as the pilots of their respective teams.

Walker uses his tremendous cross-over dribble to get into the lane and shift Harris out of his way with his burst of speed. However, it was Harris's defense and court awareness in the second half that helped his team crack the game open. Give this one to Harris but both parties showed a lot of promise as two top level point guards.

Odds & Ends

Big men are certainly the strength of the class of 2008 and teams looking for size should be able to land at least one important post player. As teams look deeper into the class, don't be surprised to see Frank Ben-Eze emerge as a name that programs look a little harder at. According to his coach Joe Wooten at Bishop O'Connell High School (Va.), Ben-Eze has made great strides in his game over the last six months and anticipates him being a completely different player come winter time. Wooten, who is also coaching the massive 6-foot-9, 230-pound center at the camp, raves about Ben-Eze's work ethic and desire to improve.

Whether he needs to go rough and tough or knock down perimeter shots, Kevin Jones is finding spots where he can be successful on the floor. The long-armed 6-foot-7, 215-pound power forward scored 14 points in the nightcap and has earned the respect from his peers with his do-whatever-it-takes attitude and approach to the game.

Every time we've seen Jason Clark this year, he gets better and better. Playing more of the point here at the NBA camp, the long-armed 6-foot-4 guard is effective at what he does. He won't wow anyone with great speed or great burst but he is a cerebral player that values the ball. He'll be a perfect fit for Georgetown.

Recruiting tidbits

Miles Plumlee, a 6-foot-10 Indiana native schooling in North Carolina, verbally committed to Stanford, giving the Cardinal another skilled big man that should shine as a face up four.

After Ohio State lost Luke Babbitt to Nevada, the Buckeyes are searching high and low for a replacement at the power forward spot. Alabama forward Jamychal Green said he has recently heard from Ohio State. North Carolina has also put in a call. Alabama, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Kentucky and Texas also remain strong.

After making stops at Kansas State and Memphis's elite camps, Kenny Kadji still maintains his decision date is July 26. The five-star center is also considering Florida, where his AAU teammate Ray Shipman committed to on Thursday.

Peekskill (N.Y.) native Mookie Jones said his list is long but West Virginia, St. John's, Syracuse, DePaul, Miami and Rutgers have struck a chord with him during the process.

Washington state native Clarence Trent is headed to Findlay Prep in Las Vegas next school year and he'll take a top five of Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Connecticut and Florida with him. The bouncy, and thick-chested, forward said he's open to other programs still.

Top scorers

Noel Johnson 16
Kenny Boynton 14.75
Tyler Zeller 14 (two games)
Derrick Favors 13.5
Brandon Jennings 13.25
Elston Turner 13
Elliot Williams 12.25
Eloy Vargas 12.25
Samardo Samuels 12
Tony Mitchell 12

Top rebounders

Ralph Sampson 6.5
Frank Ben-Eze 6.25
Terrell Vinson 6
Kenny Frease 5.5
Kyle Hardrick 5.5
Kenny Gabriel 5.5
Miles Plumlee 5.25

Top assists

Isaiah Thomas 5
Brandon Jennings 3.25
Matt Gatens 3
Dashan Harris 2.75
Maalik Wayns 2.75
Larry Drew 2.25
Martez Walker 2.25

All stats are through four games.



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