Final Day Top PerformersSamardo Samuels, 69, 270 lbs., PF, Committed to Louisville
Samuels was yet again easily the most dominant player on the offensive end that the camp had to offer, as he used his power moves on the low blocks to lead his Kentucky team to a championship title in the LeBron James
Winners Challenge. He was so powerful in fact that the Nike staff had to place over 300 lbs. in weights on the basket support so that the goal would stop being shifted out of place by Samuels dunks. His motor, which had been questioned in the past, was outstanding as he played hard throughout the entire day and was excellent running the floor. Samardo used his body excellently to shield off taller and more athletic players, and was simply a nightmare for all opposing post players in camp to guard.2130
While Samuels didnt show much of a game facing the basket, he was awesome passing the ball, both out of the post and in the open floor. In our eyes, he was clearly the MVP of the camp, carrying his team to a championship and being downright unstoppable on the low blocks. If he is able to continue his inspired play throughout his freshman year at Louisville, expect to hear Samardos name being called early in the 2009 NBA Draft.
John Riek, 72, 222 lbs., C, 2009
While Samuels may have been the most dominant player in the camp on the offensive end, there was no question at all about Riek being the most dominant on the defensive side of things. He completely changed the game each and every second he was in the game, both through his ability to block shots and rebound the ball. Despite his slender build, the Sudanese big man does an excellent job of boxing out and attacking the ball, making him a force on the glass. His shot blocking prowess is unparalleled at the high school level, as guards would not even attempt to drive into the paint when Riek was in the game, instead settling for outside jump shots.
On the flip side the offensively raw big man really stepped it up on that end of the court, scoring 18 points by our count in a 24 minute game, which had a running clock. He had five dunks, a handful of tip-ins, and even showed off a little right handed hook shot. Riek absolutely loves dunking the ball, even walking with a bit of a swagger after one of his monstrous slams. He was certainly the talk of the camp, and the circuit for that matter since he burst onto the scene at the Nike Jamboree. John is surely no longer an unknown, and expect every major college coach in the country to make the journey up to the Winchendon School over the next two years to take a glimpse at this defensive stopper.
Lance Stephenson, 65, 202 lbs., SG, 2009
If you didnt know where you were, youd think you were in Las Vegas watching an NBA shooting guard when watching Stephenson play out there. He has so many NBA moves in his repertoire at this point that he could honestly compete with many of the guards that are on certain summer league rosters. The NYC shooting guard has range expending out beyond the NBA three point arc, can post smaller guards, and is fearless going to the rim. His attitude was definitely in check throughout the camp, as he played hard on each and every occasion and was not easily frustrated. Lance was great handling the ball as well, keeping his dribble tight and making great decisions with the rock. Defense is certainly not his strong point, but expect that to improve over the next few years as he receives better coaching. All in all, an outstanding performance from the rising junior.
Tyreke Evans, 65, 204 lbs., PG/SG, 2008
People either love or hate Tyreke, but you cant deny how talented of a player he is. He was able to get to the rim on anyone in camp, often finishing with lay-ups jumping off of the wrong foot, a la Steve Nash
. The Philly guard exhibited the vision of a point guard with the size and scoring ability of a shooting guard, making him one of the tougher players in camp to keep in front of. Evans is certainly going to have to improve upon his leadership skills and ability to control the tempo of the game if he hopes to play point guard full time at the next level, but there is no doubt in our minds that he is going to put up huge numbers wherever he lands, with Louisville and Villanova reportedly being the leaders for his services at the moment.
Demarcus Cousins, 69, 249 lbs., PF, 2009
Cousins showed off the game of the skilled power forward that he is finally at the LeBron camp, seeming to finally get it through his head that he is much better suited on the blocks then he his hanging around the perimeter all day. The passing and ball handling skills that he showed off were unbelievable for a player standing 69 and nearly 250 lbs. He is a nightmare to guard on the offensive end, able to take slower defenders off of the dribble from the wing, but also able to kill you in post with his remarkably soft touch.2474
Already owning an NBA body, Cousins made his presence felt on the defensive end with his outstanding timing and nice wingspan to block shots. He is smart and skilled, allowing him to stay out of foul trouble while still making his impact felt on both ends of the floor. UAB is rumored to be the slight leader for this big, as he has had a very long relationship with coach Mike Davis
. He could very well be the piece to take UAB to the top of Conference USA, alongside Memphis.
Greg Monroe, 610, 233 lbs., PF, 2008
Monroe continued his relatively shy style of play, opting to play more of the role of distributor rather than scorer on the camps last day. He did an excellent job of getting everyone else on his team involved, finished at the rim well with both hands, and leapt off the ground very quickly. He was solid rebounding the ball, while also making his presence felt on defense via his blocked shots. Overall it was the best performance of camp from the uber-talented Louisiana forward, but still not what you would hope for out of the nations top rising senior.
Rashanti Harris, 69, 238 lbs., PF/C, 2008
Harris was surely one of the bigger surprises here at the LeBron James
Skills Academy. Considered a borderline top 100 prospect by virtually every recruiting service out there, he came out and was absolutely fearless against big name players such as Greg Monroe
, Samardo Samuels
, and John Riek
. Already owning an NBA body, the athletic big man was able to overpower nearly every opposing big man that he was pegged up against on the final day of the camp. He was the lone player who actually attacked the freakishly long Riek, attempting to go right through him and to the rim at every available opportunity. Harris lack of actual skill wound up hurting him at times however, as there were chances for him to take the taller Riek off of the dribble, but his lack of any resemblance of perimeter skills did not allow him to do so.
While Rashanti is not very polished at all on the low blocks, his combination of strength and athleticism immediately make him a name to keep in the back of your heads as time goes on. As long as he is able to develop one or two low post moves and a somewhat respectable jumpshot from 15 feet and in, there is no reason that Harris will not be on the NBA radar eventually.
Jordan Hamilton, 67, 210 lbs., SF, 2009
While he did not stand out in any one particular facet of the game, the L.A. wing was solid throughout the entire camp. He shot the ball very well from beyond the arc, used his explosive first step to get to the rim, and did a great job getting the ball to Samardo Samuels
on the low blocks. The long athlete also did a great job of getting out in the passing lanes, deflecting or stealing a number of passes on the day. Texas appears to be the leader for this silky smooth wing, and expect this stud to make an immediate impact on whichever program lands his services in 2009.