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June 18, 2007

NIKE Hoop Jamboree: Vol. 1

The NIKE Hoop Jamboree, a prestigious camp for the top underclassmen in the country, came to a close this weekend. Always high on individual talent, the Hoop Jamboree implemented team standings and a championship tournament on the final day which greatly enhanced the competitive nature of the event. 2009 point guard prospect Mfon Udofia did an outstanding job leading his team to a championship, but he had a lot of help along the way.

Along with Udofia, the championship Washington Wizards squad got key contributions from 7-foot-2 center John Riek, productive combo forward Marshawn Powell and smooth 2010 shooting guard Ralston Turner.

Both the top prospect and most intriguing player at the camp was the towering Riek. He arrived at the camp after players measurements were taken, but it looked as if Riek, a 2009 prospect, could possible touch the rim without leaving the floor. But even more impressive than his reach, Riek possesses good hands, good mobility and an aggressive streak. Riek ran down rebounds and scored off them as well as scoring off traditional post moves. With a strong fundamental base to his game, he keeps the ball above the defense and did not have near the turnovers you would expect from a player with his size and limited experience. Defensively, he is a game changer with his ability to both rebound and block shots. All indications during the camp are that Riek is on his way to making a living playing the game of basketball.

A 2009 prospect, Powell, at 6-foot-6, has a knack for scoring the ball in the interior. With strong hands and a soft touch, Powell is quick off the floor as a rebounder and scorer. He also demonstrated the ability to step out and make jumpers as well as adequately handle the ball. His inside/outside capabilities make Powell a very attractive high major prospect.

Along with Jereme Richmond and C.J. Leslie, Turner was a top 2010 prospect at the camp. With a controlled strength and a mature feel for the game, the 6-foot-4 Turner has the makings of an elite shooting guard. With a quick release on his jumper which matches the efficient nature of his total game, Turner is proficient from both behind the arc and in the midrange. And although he is not an overwhelming athlete, he does have a burst which allows him to get to the rim.

When Udofia avoids over dribbling himself into negative plays, he is an outstanding point guard. At 6-foot-2, 180-pounds, the crafty left hander has solid size to go along with his quickness with the ball. Very difficult to control on the dribble, Udofia can also knock down jumpers both off the pass and the dribble. And as the week wore on and he gained more confidence in his teammates, he proved that he could create scores for his teammates and has a feel for when to give the ball up and whom to give it to. The dynamic guard also has a runner when going to his right which proved unstoppable.

Here is a rundown on some other top 2009 prospects at the camp:

Isaiah Armwood- Along with Riek, Armwood was the most impressive 2009 prospect at the camp. Attending Kevin Durant's former high school Montrose Christian, Armwood has a physical build and skill that reminds you of Durant. Now Armwood is quite a ways from being the player that Durant is, but Armwood has a nice looking jumper from behind the arc, can put the ball on the floor and shows the potential of being a low post scorer and effective rebounder at a high level of play.

Daniel Orton- The big man from Oklahoma proved just how big he really is at the camp. Measuring in at 6-foot-9 and 273-pounds with shoes on, Orton plays even taller with his 7-foot-4 wingspan and 9-foot-2 reach. Proving virtually impossible to score on in the post, Orton also did some scoring himself. But offensively, his most impressive trait is the way he passes the ball.

Nolan Dennis- A sleek all purpose guard, Dennis demonstrated a feel for the game and athletic explosiveness that makes him one of the more intriguing guard prospects in the class. Capable of playing all three perimeter positions, Dennis spent most of his time off the ball at the camp. But the future of this talented 6-foot-4 prospect might just be at the point guard position.

Royce White- Don't let this 6-foot-7 combo forward lull you into thinking he is not that athletic. White just has a calm and controlled pace to his game that only builds team chemistry around him. He avoids negative plays while also being skillful with the ball. Then when he needs that extra burst, he is capable of making the athletic play.

Ari Stewart- Perhaps the second biggest surprise of the camp behind Riek, Stewart put on a show at times with his ability to both shoot with range and slash to the basket. A rangy 6-foot-6, Stewart also moves his feet well on defense and rebounds his wing position well. He came off the bench last season for his talented Fairburn (Ga.) Wheeler High School team, but he now appears ready to take on the spotlight.

Rodney Williams- A superb athlete at 6-foot-5, Williams has a tremendous upside as he continues to improve his skill level. Most impressive at the camp was the way he knocked down jumpers from behind the arc to go along with his penchant for the athletic play.

DaShonte Riley- Feeling a little under the weather at the camp, Riley never dominated the play as it looked like he possibly could. He did, however, prove very difficult to score over at 6-foot-10 and showed mobility and potential prowess as a low post scorer. He is the type of post player with the upside that will make him a very coveted prospect.

Tristan Spurlock- At 6-foot-6, 216-pounds, Spurlock has the size to go along with the skill level of a very attractive wing prospect. He has a feel for using screens and shoots the ball with range. Defensively, he can guard up to three different positions and is also a physical rebounder underneath.

Kyle Hardrick- The Oklahoma commitment always is the guy who has everyone in the gym buzzing about how hard he plays and how he can score with his back to the basket in the low post. This was definitely the case at the NIKE Hoop Jamboree. Hardrick consistently bludgeons opponents with his intensity and deft footwork in the post.

Deshawn Painter- Still a work in progress, Painter has the potential to be a top interior player. He doesn't consistently finish in the post, yet, but is able to effectively operate with his back to the basket and get quality looks. As he gains experience and gets stronger, more of those shots will fall. Most impress about his game is how hard he plays and the fact that he has a 7-foot wingspan at the height of 6-foot-7.

Hollis Thompson- The wiry, promising prospect from California, has a feel for the game and is skilled with the ball. A 6-foot-6 wing player, Thompson scores the ball at all three levels while also making sound decisions with his ball handling and passing.

Bill Edwards- As a powerful 6-foot-5, 239-pound shooting guard, Edwards was one of the most productive players in the camp. The lefty knocked down threes and consistently worked his way to the rim. He also showed a feel for passing the ball without over dribbling. Based on the viewing at the camp, Edwards is quite a promising perimeter prospect as long as he keeps his weight in check.

Recaps on the other top 2009 prospects and the best of the 2010 and 2011 prospects from the NIKE Hoop Jamboree are coming next.


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