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June 24, 2005

Point guards step it up at NBA Players Camp

RICHMOND, Va.-The top two point guards playing high school basketball O.J. Mayo and Tywon Lawson had terrific early sessions Friday at the NBA Players Camp in Richmond, Va. If they were not setting up teammates for easy scores, Mayo and Lawson were both getting into the lane at will and scoring.

Here's a look at how some of the top players performed at the event.

O.J. Mayo- Not only does Mayo possess more talent than anyone else in Virginia Commonwealth's gym, he might just be the hardest worker in the gym as well. After playing a fantastic game in the early session, Mayo stayed in the gym for at least an hour going through a series of ball handling and agility drills. It is his combination of physical skills, competitive desire, basketball IQ and work ethic that set him head and shoulders above the rest.

Tywon Lawson- With his lethal combination of strength, speed and stamina, Lawson gave Will Walker fits during the early session. Lawson's one man press forced a number of turnovers by Walker and his teammates, and when Lawson decided to get in the lane and score, he was there, finishing with an assortment of shots off one foot.

Cole Aldrich- Not only has Aldrich played as hard as any big man at the camp, he has also been scoring off a variety of polished and powerful moves. His best move of the morning was a drive from midrange along the baseline where he spun back to the middle and finished with a left hand jump hook.

Kevin Love- This guy continues to impress and improve. Now he is knocking down NBA range three-pointers with ease and consistently bust out with the dribble after defensive rebounds to lead the break. Although his stocky build makes one wonder how agile he will be as a pro, there is no denying how well he is moving his feet defensively right now. He is just a tremendous talent with a very deep understanding of the game.

Julian Vaughn and Keenan Ellis are two other smooth shooting big men at the camp. Both have tremendous wrist action on their jumpers, which gives them a soft touch. Right now Vaughn's post up game is more advanced than Ellis, and Ellis is behind Vaughn when it comes to competing on every possession.

Taj Gibson- The long and wiry forward spent his game playing on the perimeter. Although he was not seen taking any outside shots, he did a very nice job defending and slashing to the basket with the dribble.

Alex Stepheson- He is hard to stop from scoring when he can spin to his left shoulder and finish with his right hand. Blessed with an excellent basketball body, Stepheson will occasionally drift mentally during the action. Much to his credit, he stayed in the gym after the early session and worked on his left hand jump hook.

Antonio Pena- Pena does his offensive damage as a rebounder and mid-post scorer. Typically does more damage to his own team than the other when he tries to make plays with the handle and the pass. Right now, he projects as a power forward.

Eric Wallace and Taylor King were the beneficiaries of each other's defense today. King got loose for open three-pointers and beat Wallace off the dribble. Wallace made at least three three-pointers. Neither guy fought through screens to defend each other. Wallace, who is a very good run and jump athlete, is not nearly as fluid with the ball. Almost all his creation off the dribble is just to score as his court vision needs improving.

Andre McFarland- This blue collar small forward with above average athleticism drained three-pointers off the catch last night and again today. His shot looks very good, but he does need to tighten up his handle and passing off the dribble.

Dwight Lewis- Just having recovered from mononucleosis, Lewis displayed his smooth slashing and pull up game today. He is a smooth athlete in general.

Adrian Oliver- He did not shoot the ball well today, but he is a big point guard with a very good feel for the game.

Brandon Jennings is another point guard with an outstanding feel for the game. The lefty plays well above his 2008 classification, getting into seams where he finds the open man or finishes with an assortment of off beat shots. He does need to refine his outside jumper.

DaJuan Summers- This smooth athlete is stroking the ball from the outside. Would like to see him get a little more physical with his game.

Duke Crews is a player who is plenty physical with his game. Certainly not devoid of skill (he has a nice little jump hook), Crews does try to physically force the ball to the basket with poor results at times. With time he will learn to use a little more finesse with the ball in his hands to compliment his rugged athleticism and warrior mentality.


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