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Boosting their stock
by Matthew Kamalsky / May 30, 2008

Richard Hendrix The third day of the Pre-Draft camp was a testament to the comfort level that many of the players in attendance have developed with the camp’s style of play. Gary Forbes had the best outing, but perhaps the most significant performance of the day came from the player that needed it the most, Wayne Ellington, who took advantage of his touches and did a good job getting open early in every possession.

Once again, ’s play was broken into two segments, with the first offering some great individual performances and the second being highlighted by an especially high-scoring affair. Though the players participated in the same drills they did yesterday, no one really stood out, considering most of the pre-game activities were focused on shooting. Robert Vaden and Lester Hudson both showed an impressive comfort level shooting the NBA three, but it was Brian Roberts who actually translated his range to the game. Ellington once again struggled with his shooting, but that didn’t stop him from lighting up the scoreboard later in the day.

On a side note, Ty Lawson didn’t play due to an alleged “hip pointer”, but solidified his stock to a large extent in Day Two. Longar Longar doesn’t have the same security, and will lose out on his opportunity due to a knee injury.

Game One: Team Four (2-0) 77 Team One (0-2) 74

Today’s first game was littered with great individual offensive performances. Team Four was paced by two players that have boosted their stock significantly this week: Brian Roberts (17 pts, 2 reb) and Malik Hairston (12 pts, 8 reb, 2 ast). Roberts had a tremendous game, proving that he can get to the rim despite his lack of blinding quickness. His ability to change speeds and directions, coupled with his crafty ball handling, allowed him to get to the rim on a handful of occasions. He’s been one of the best shooters all week long, knocking down all six of his free throws and his only three. Hairston had an equally impressive outing, getting to the rim frequently, running the point with decent effectiveness, and showing off the athleticism he has gained by losing weight. Though neither player will sniff the first round come draft day, they’ve kept themselves in the hunt to be selected late.

Sonny Weems (11 pts, 4 reb) and Reggie Williams (9 pts, 5 reb) were the other contributors in the backcourt for Team Four. Weems showed nice versatility, but is still very raw all-around. He can do some nice things, but few of them consistently. Williams on the other hand, showed good slashing ability, doing most of his damage at the rim. Pat Calathes (10 pts, 4 reb, 2 ast) had a very nice game, showing that he can use his length to get to the rim despite his lack of foot speed.

In the frontcourt, Vladimir Golubovic (0-5 fg, 9 reb, 4 fls, 5 to) and Keith Brumbaugh (0-7 fg, 1 stl) struggled mightily. Golubovic had a very poor outing, and made numerous mistakes on both ends. Brumbaugh on the other hand, simply shoots too many off balance floaters going away from the rim. Charles Rhodes had a nice game, but will force things from time to time. He showed a nice midrange jumper and some smooth post moves, but got a little too confident in his range. Sasha Kaun (2 pts, 5 reb, 2 blk) had a decent outing, but is just reinforcing the perception that he is a good rebounder, solid defender, but an extremely inconsistent option offensively.

Team One was paced by the scoring efforts of Wayne Ellington (17 pts, 3 reb, 1 to). After struggling to get anything going in the first two days of camp, he really turned things around . Ellington made a great effort to get open early in offensive possessions, giving him a chance to get the ball with his defender recovering. This benefitted him greatly, as it helped him break his man down and score. He showed a nice step back jumper and even got to the rim on a couple of occasions. Though he will need to sustain this level of play to return his stock to where it was, Ellington took a big step in the right direction. His jumper seems to be back in rhythm, which is huge for him.

For the second straight game, Team One got a big performance from Joe Crawford (15 pts, 2 reb, 3 to). Though he wasn’t getting a ton of touches in the flow of the offense, he came up big in transition. He’s very good at making one move and then heading full speed to the rim. Ron Steele (5 ast, 0 to) did a great job of getting Crawford and Ellington open looks, and showed some flashes of the player he was before his injuries. Unlike Steele, who had a largely one-dimensional performance as a distributor, Mark Tyndale (6 pts, 4 reb, 5 ast) once again made his presence felt as both a defender and finisher.

Shan Foster (9 pts, 1 stl) finally came out of his shell, but still doesn’t look as comfortable shooting the ball as he did at Vanderbilt. He’ll need to bring the effort he did and get a few rolls to get his stock back to where it was coming in.

In the frontcourt, both Quan Prowell (9 pts, 2 reb) and Darnell Jackson (8pts, 6 reb, 2 ast, 1 blk) showed their wares effectively. Prowell has a nice set shot from the midrange, and is very bounce around the rim. He may not be able to create for himself effectively, but he has some tools. Jackson on the other hand, showed tremendous move on the block, and is a savvy offensive and defensive player. He may lack size and athleticism, but that didn’t stop him from blocking a shot and finishing at the rim.

Game Two: Team Five (1-1) 101 Team Two (1-1) 93

It what may turn out to be the highest scoring affair of this year’s camp, Gary Forbes (30 pts, 15-16 ft, 2 stl) and Josh Duncan (20 pts, 9-10 ft, 6 reb) had huge nights offensively. Despite Forbes’s effort, Duncan led Team Five to their first victory.

While he may not be the tallest or most athletic player, Josh Duncan brings a lot to the table. He has legit range on his jumper, and shows good toughness around the basket. He uses his body to get to the line at a good rate, and has some decent post moves. His polish and crafty approach to the game is what allowed him to be so effective. DeVon Hardin (11 pts, 3 reb, 2 blks) doesn’t have the same polish, but does have the size and athleticism. He showed some raw, but effective, post moves, and simply needs some direction to become an adequate back to the basket player.

Othello Hunter (10 pts, 7 reb, 1 blk) falls in much the same boat as Hardin, possessing good size and athleticism, but lacking polish. He doesn’t have a ton of experience, and still needs to work on his left hand and post moves, but his learning curve bodes well for his future. Aleks Maric (8 pts, 4 reb, 1 blk) had a nice showing, but needs to make a more consistent impact on the offensive end.

In the backcourt, Bryce Taylor (11 pts, 2 reb) put his offensive versatility on full display, knocking down his outside shot, attacking the rim with reckless abandon, and using some finesse at the rim when the situation called for it. Ramel Bradley (8 pts, 4 ast, 1 stl) showed he could distribute the ball with decent effectiveness, but didn’t have a great offensive game, and is by no means a true playmaker.

Danny Green (9 pts, 2 reb, 1 stl) had a good game, but it wasn’t pretty. His ankle injury limits his mobility, so he can only make plays when they come to him. With that in mind, he had a great game for a guy playing on one leg, but still needs to work on his shot-creating ability and the mechanics of his jumper. Richard Roby (11 pts, 5 reb, 1 ast) also made an impact, showing off his jumper, but having a hard time getting separation when attacking the rim.

Jeremy Pargo (11 pts, 6 reb, 5 ast, 5 to) played well, and offered an amazing highlight in practice. The early-entry point guard tossed the ball up in warm-ups, elevated, and proceeded to put the ball between his legs before throwing it down. Very few players his size have that kind of explosiveness. In addition to his pregame exploits, Pargo showed well in the game itself. He showed some nice drive and dish skills, showed incredible agility with the ball in his hands, but made a number of mistakes dribbling too far into the defense.

Team Two was paced by the unreal performance by Gary Forbes, who made a simply incredible 16 trips to the foul line, making 15. His ability to get to the rim and score from different angles makes him hugely effective in this setting. He’s a creative finisher who always brings his best at game time. His partner in the backcourt, Drew Neitzel (11 pts, 4 ast, 0 to) got out of his slump, finally asseting himself as a scorer and running the point effectively. Russel Robinson (5 pts, 3 ast) had a similar evening, minus the shooting. He isn’t a scorer, but needs to at least try to draw defenders and make plays for his teammates instead of just initiating the offense and disappearing.

Robert Vaden (9 pts, 3-11 fg, 3 ast) and David Padgett (8 pts, 3-10 fg, 7 reb) both played well, but neither shot the ball particularly well from the field. Both players get their fare share of touches in position to score, and are capable of better production. Vaden simply wasn’t getting open enough to get his shot off clean, while Padgett had struggled to take contact and score.

Richard Hendrix (11 pts, 8 reb, 3 stl) came up big, showing that he can dominate the glass with his blend of strength and anticipation. He had incredible strong hands, but the fact that he palms the ball so when he looks to score leads him to leave some of his shots short. Deron Washington (11 pts, 6 reb, 2 stl) wasn’t a standout, but is a great athlete who works hard to help his team in any way he can. Patrick Ewing Jr. (4 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast) struggled, and needs to get back into rhythm offensively without forcing things.

Game Three: Team Six (2-0) 99 Team Three (0-2) 78

Once again, the story for Team Six was Mike Taylor (24 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast), who had another huge game, scoring in bunches from the inside and out. His quickness isn’t surprising considering his size, but he absorbs contact much better than the average small guard. His backcourt partner, Sean Singletary (15 pts, 3 reb, 8 ast) was one of the reasons he played so well, setting the table and doing a much better job offensively than he did yesterday. He wasn’t hitting from the outside, but made a big impact in transition by creating turnovers and pushing the break.

Marcelus Kemp (14 pts, 1 ast, 1 blk) had a nice performance, and used his athleticism to make some plays as a finisher, but didn’t show a whole lot else. George Hill (7 pts, 1 ast, 3 to) played well too, but still hasn’t shown the ability to run the point.

None of the team’s post players stood out, with Joseph Jones turning in the best performance, while Brian Butch (6 pts, 3-12 fg, 4 to), Joey Dorsey (6 pts, 6 reb, 1 blk), and Davon Jefferson (7 pts, 2 reb, 1 blk) all took a back seat to their guards. Butch struggled from the field, but Jefferson and Dorsey just didn’t get all that many touches.

For the second day in a row, DeMarcus Nelson (22 pts, 5 reb) paced Team Three. His play has been extremely encouraging, and his strength with the ball helps him compensate for his size when attacking the rim, where he made a killing. However, the player many expected to excel, J.R. Giddens (1 pt, 1 ast), failed to stand out once again.

Lester Hudson had another good showing, really making an impact across the board. He did some damage on both ends, but still needs to show his point guard skills. Maarty Leunen (11pts, 9 reb, 1 ast) was the only other member of Team Three to have a big game, showing more toughness underneath than he usually does out on the perimeter.

James Mays (6 pts, 1 ast, I blk) took a step back, as did Jiri Hubalek (6 pts, 3-9 fg, 1 blk). Mays simply didn’t get many touches, and it’s a big impact guy in half court settings. Hubalek on the other hand, struggled to knock down his shots from the outside, something that proved capable of yesterday.

With only one chance to impress the decision-makers in attendance, DeMarcus Nelson, Brian Roberts, and Mike Taylor have had consistent success throughout the week, raising their stock significantly. In contrast, DeVon Hardin and Joey Dorsey have been a bit less consistent, but have proved just as much. Wayne Ellington falls in the same boat, but his ups and downs have been more dramatic than the pair of talent big men. Despite the progress each of these players have made on their respective stocks, the final day will likely decide how many of them are perceived heading into their private workouts.

Matthew Kamalsky is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

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