Day one at the NBPA Camp featured a number of outstanding performances, along with the usual rash of injuries. See which players were the surprise hits, and who was the talk of the town after the first set of games on Wednesday night. Highlights from the first day include Cole Aldrich, Jamie Skeen, DaJuan Summers, Gary Johnson, and O.J. Mayo.
Gary Johnson, the 6-foot-7 rising junior forward from Houston, TX had the stat-line of the night with 27 points in the Heat's win over the Mavs. Johnson played the full 40 minutes due to a couple of injuries to his teammates, but the big scoring output was impressive nonetheless. There aren't many players at this level who possess the kind of motor that Johnson has. He is in constant motion, and relentless on the glass.
O.J. Mayo was, perhaps, even more impressive, scoring 23 points in just 20 minutes in a loss to the Wizards. The talk is that no player nationally, regardless of class is playing better than the 6-foot-4 guard from Cincinnati is playing right now. On top of the phenomenal talent, Mayo is also a tireless worker in the drills, and a leader both on and off the floor. Coaches and trainers throughout the camp are singing his praises for the effort he's given thus far.
Cole Aldrich was dominant early in the day during practice and he carried that aggression over into the evening game, scoring 12 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. Aldrich showed a little bit of everything, blocking shots, explosively attacking the rim, stepping out and knocking down the 16' elbow jumper, and maneuvering around in the paint for athletic finishes. He's a legitimate 6-foot-11 and 235 pounds. There aren't many, if any, big men in the class of 2007 who have his total package.
Javaris Crittenton had 18 points and looked terrific handling the ball and making shots. He has off the charts athleticism for a lead guard.
Jamie Skeen has had a great spring, and last night he really stepped up his game against Kevin Durant. The future Demon Deacon poured in 18 points, and even shot the ball well from the perimeter. He's added some much needed bulk to his frame, and is looking more and more like an immediate contributor for Wake Forest.
DaJuan Summers threw down a couple of nasty dunks and showed his versatility by stepping out and knocking down jumpers. When Summers plays both inside and out, rather than just hanging around the three point line, he looks like an all-american. It'll be interesting to see if he can keep it up this week.
Tywon Lawson got to the camp late on Wednesday afternoon, but got right into the swing of things with a big game against the Spurs, and fellow top point guard Willie Kemp. Lawson is so fast with the ball that it's nearly impossible to guard him with just one guy. Lawson scored early going to the basket, but was content late in the game setting up his teammates off the dribble penetration.
Hamady N'Diaye was the big surprise of the day with his aggressive play in the first game. N'Diaye hasn't put it all together yet physically, but from a skills perspective he's got a lot to work with. Offensively, he showed good instincts using one dribble and pivoting into his move. He sees the floor well and made a few really nifty passes. Those skills, coupled with his length and leaping ability make him a very intriguing prospect to say the least.
Suns 82 - Javaris Crittenton 18, Quincy Pondexter 13, Brook Lopez 10 (11 reb.) Pacers 75 - James Dews 11, Vernon Macklin 10, Tom Herzog 9
Sonics 90 - Keenan Ellis 17, Jerry Smith 12, Nolan Smith 12 Rockets 80 - Patrick Christopher 14, Matthew Shaw 12, Alex Stepheson 10
Wizards 83 - Michael Beasley 20, Tyreke Evans 15, Darrell Arthur 11, Lance Thomas 11 Pistons 80 - O.J. Mayo 23, Stanley Robinson 12, Billy Walker 10
Heat 66 - Gary Johnson 27, Ramar Smith 15 Mavs 58 - JeJuan Brown 12, Heath White 10
Kings 84 - Jamie Skeen 18, Corey Stokes 17, Scott Reynolds 16, Antonio Pena 10 Nuggets 71 - Kevin Durant 13, DaJuan Summers 11, Bryce Webster 10
The great attraction of the NBPA Camp is the fact that it draws talent from all of the major shoe-affiliations. While the players were enjoying free time after lunch on Wednesday a few pickup games popped up around the gym, one of which featured Wayne Ellington, Michael Beasley, and Nolan Smith taking on Lance Thomas, Darrell Arthur, and Javaris Crittenton. It was a high level contest with, perhaps six future pros competing. Watching all of the players interact and compete against each other is refreshing in a day and age where you're seeing more and more segregation between the shoe company sponsored teams. After all, the fun is not in watching the events compete against each other, but in watching the players settle up on the basketball court.