Saved the Best for Last
Olu Ashalou - 2008 - 6'7" 215 lbs - Small Forward - Chrisitan Life Academy -Brampton, ON - solid verbal to Rutgers
For his last magic trick, the Toronto native pulled a monster out of his hat unleashing a powerful performance against highly touted Renardo Sidney. Simply put, Ashalou just wanted it more as his team took down Sidney's Team Iverson 61-60 in day three action.
Ashalou used his strength all weekend to feed defenders a steady diet of power moves. His crowning moment came at the expense of two Team Iverson defenders. With his team already leading by 11 in the first quater, Ashalou drove down the right side and threw down a dunk with his right on two Team A.I. defenders that had every coach there (and trust me there were plenty) salivating. It was as impressive a showing of pure strength as I had seen all camp. Ashalou was without a doubt one of the top three finishers at RBK.
Only the Strong Survive
Allan Chaney - 2008 - 6'9" 235 lbs. - Power Forward - New London H.S. - New London, CT - Undeclared, offers from Duquesne, Fordham, UMASS, Rhode Island, Providence
Every time a shot went up, Chaney was under the basket boxing out, getting position and maneuvering his way to the loose ball. A very good rebounder by all accounts. On the offensive side of the ball, he isn't the fastest big man you'll run into, but he can get up and down the court very well for his size. His crowning moment had to be in the day three loss to team Gerald Green when he threw down a thunderous dunk late in the game on the break. Around the hoop, he is very efficient and knows his limitations. You didn't really see him make bad decisions with the ball all that often.
On the downside, his outside shot is somewhat flat and his post moves are limited because of his somewhat clumsy footwork. With that said, his positives far outweigh his negatives and Chaney definitely played his way onto a lot of scout's radars this past weekend.
Frank Ben-Eze - 2008 - 6'10" 235 lbs. - Power Forward/Center - Bishop O'Connell H.S. - McLean, VA Undeclared, considering Maryland, Connecticut, Villanova
One thing Ben-Eze can't be knocked for is his tenacity on the boards. Much like his teammate throughout camp Ashalou, Ben-Eze was a beast on the glass routinely beating opponents to the ball and showing great technique in doing so.
Olek Czyz - 2009 - 6'8" 230 lbs - Power Forward - Reno H.S. - Reno, NV - Undecided, offers from Arizona State, Washington State, Kentucky, Louisville, Nevada
I say that only because Czyz is a very enigmatic player. One minute he will be dazzling you with his mix of speed and power, the next he'll air-ball a free throw. I tended to concentrate on the latter rather than the former in my three days watching him, and I truly believe this guy will be one of the most exciting freshman to watch it two years. The coach best suited to handle Olek is the one who can find a way to bottle up the energy that he brings to the court and direct it towards focusing while on it.
I'm still stirring about the reverse jam in traffic he tried to pull off in the first two minutes of his first game at RBK. In a perfect Olek run world everything would be a reverse jam in traffic. If only that were the case Olek, if only that were the case.
Didn't Forget About You
Eloy Vargas - 2008 - 6'10" 225 lbs. - Center - American Heritage - Plantation, FL - Undecided, offers from Clemson, Pitt, Florida State, Wichita State
Could be mistaken for Tyson Chandler's brother. Plays a lot like him, too. Long and skinny and a force on the defensive end.
Renaldo Woolridge - 2008 - 6'8" 205 lbs. - Small Forward - Harvard-Westlake - Sherman Oaks, CA - Undecided, offers from Arizona State, Pepperdine
Son of Orlando. Renaldo was one of the steadier scorers throughout camp although small forward probably won't be his position in college considering his father was a seven footer. Still looks like he has another growth spurt in him judging from his wingspan.
Michael Rosario - 2008 - 6'2" 175 lbs. - Shooting Guard - St. Anthony's - Jersey City, NJ - committed to Rutgers
Very streaky shooter. Needs to work on shot selection. Could be a very productive scorer at the next level if he learns to practice patience although when he is hitting his shots you want to keep feeding him.
Justin Brownlee - 2008 - 6'7" 210 lbs. - Power Forward - Covenant Christian - Tifton, GA - Undecided
Brownlee was one of the more consistent big men in camp showing off nice touch inside of 17 feet and proving to be very effective on the boards. At 6'7" though, he may be a bit too smaller to play four or five in college or if he does want to advertise himself as a true big man a few pounds could help. Game reminiscent of Jared Dudley.
-Philadelphia University and the RBK staff were very, very helpful and should be applauded for their efforts throughout camp. It was really a great experience to be a part of.
-Brandon Jennings has that star power rarely seen in a high school player. He captivated everyone in the crowd every time he touched the ball. Watching Jennings and his traveling road show of a high school team, Oak Hill, play their national schedule this season is going to be the Christmas gift that keeps on giving for college basketball fans, especially ones in Arizona Wildcat country.
-While Jennings was spectacular, the other marquee name at the camp, Renardo Sidney, didn't quite live up to the hype in this camp. I know it is really unfair to judge such a young prospect from just a couple of days or to trash a 16-year old kid in general, so I'm not going to rip Sidney. I'll just say that he has a world of potential and, as a fan of basketball, I would enjoy watching what this kid could do if he put all of that potential to good use.
-It was nice to see the coaches be able to breathe at this year's event. For instance, it seemed like, in previous years at ABCD, coaches were reluctant to sit among the media and the fans because people would constantly be hounding them for autographs, interviews, asking them about their programs, etc. It wasn't that way this year. Every game I attended I regularly found myself within three to five feet of three to five top tier division one coaches and not once did I see a fan bother one of them for an autograph or sitting down to talk about players they can't really talk about anyway. And it wasn't because it wasn't packed-- because it was. It was just more a matter of people in attendance respecting the fact that the coaches were there to watch basketball, not have a press conference or an autograph session. It really was all about the basketball.
- Coolest moment: At one point Sunday, I got up to check out what was going on over on another court. I returned to my seat to find Billy Donovan sitting in front of my stuff checking out my media guide. I froze for a minute because, well, it was Billy Donovan. Then, after deliberating for a second, I reached in said, "Sorry, I'll move that junk for you," to which he replied, "No, no, no.... I'll slide down." Imagine that, the reigning two time coach of the National Champion Florida Gators sliding down for me, a lower form of life internet writer. He could have said anything, he could have told me to take my stuff and beat it. I mean the guy is pretty much the most sought after coach on the planet right now. But instead of acting like an (expletive deleted) he got up sat and sat on the bleacher behind me for the rest of the game. Every once and a while I'd interject my thoughts back to him and one of his assistants about the game and they were happy to give me theirs. No recorders, no pens, no paper, just talking basketball. Pretty cool.
-The last day was almost comical except for a game between Team Iverson and Team Gerald Green, which was, in my opinion, the best of all three days. Day three seemed to be almost too much after two games on day one, three on day two and a full day of activity Saturday. I really believe that if the games were split up in a 2-2-2 format, those it attendance, coaches, media and fans alike, would have seen better basketball overall on day three.
However, the basketball that was on display throughout camp was very intriguing. Although there were rumblings in the crowd that the LeBron Academy hosted better overall players and play at RBK was sometimes sloppy, I believe that the camp did it's job in that it exposed people to some players no one had heard of before. Names like John Wall, Andrew Randell, Justin Brownlee and Joe Jackson, who many people hadn't heard of before camp, were making names for themselves this past weekend. In my humble opinion, that is what summer high school events are all about. It's not about watching guys you know can play at the next level. It's about finding the kids who no one knows about. For every LeBron who has been deemed a basketball god since his first dribble, there is a Jameer Nelson out there having to prove himself time and time again waiting for a shot to shine. RBK gave the Jameers of the nation that chance.