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July 8, 2005

ABCD: James and Cook shine on Thursday

TEANECK, N.J. - There wasn't a super standout performance on Thursday at the ABCD camp like there was on opening day but several guys like Damion James and Daequan Cook had people talking when they exited Fairleigh Dickinson University for the night.

Thursday's top performers

We'll try real hard to not sound like a broken record but Damion James is amazing talent. Fans in Norman, Oklahoma will enjoy the 6-foot-8 forward for a year because if the NBA did not pass the age limit rule, James might be looking for the nearest tailor for a designer suit for his NBA draft night experience right out of high school.

James is dominating the field and making quite the impression on the folks at the ABCD camp. Matched up against fellow Texan Darrell Arthur, James went to work putting in 19 points and nine rebounds while keeping Arthur in check to two points, three boards and five turnovers.

James has prototypical NBA small forward size, athleticism to match, great ball handling skills and rebounds with the best of them. Simply put, James is proving that not only is he one of the elite in his class, he's one of the best overall players overall in the nation.

Go ahead and pencil Ohio State deep into your March Madness bracket in 2007. The Buckeyes junior varsity team, a.k.a. the Sonics here at ABCD camp, feature Daequan Cook, Mike Conley and Greg Oden. The trio play so incredibly well together it's scary to think about just how good they are going to be at the next level after playing together for the last four years.

Cook was the superstar on Thursday night, scoring at will and shooting very well from deep. He poured in 19 points on seven of eight shooting and four of five shooting from deep. The kid wasn't just knocking down open jumpers either. He rolled off screens, scored on some midrange jumpers and used a nice looking step back dribble to clear space for the long ball. It was one of the best games overall of the camp.

The legend of Lance Stephenson is growing. The 6-foot-4 rising freshman has become the talk of the camp with his dynamic scoring ability. Not built like most incoming freshman, Stephenson has a frame that can take, and give out, a punishment inside the paint. He's incredibly confident, has that New York swagger and loves to be in the spotlight. Reps are made here at the ABCD camp and Stevenson has not only made his, he's exceeded the expectations placed upon him so early.

Hailing from Modesto, Calif., people on the East Coast got a chance to see Washington commit Adrian Oliver for the first time. He gave a good first impression. He's piloted his team to a 3-1 record and scoring, rebounding and dropping off assists all day long. The thing that stands out the most with him is the fact he doesn't take a lot of shots but the ones he does throw up are more than likely going in. For the camp, he's shooting over 60 percent from the floor.

Alex Tyus has played himself into several scholarship offers this week in Jersey. The 6-foot-7 bouncy small forward has reclassified to 2007 and mixed with his incredible scoring output, he should plenty of high major options. The Florissant, Mo. native had 18 points in an afternoon game.

Corey Stokes has been stroking from deep this week at ABCD but he isn't powering through defenders to get his points around the basket. Nevertheless, he's one of the elite two guards in the class of 2007 and proving that every chance he gets here. Rutgers, Wake Forest and Connecticut are the heavy hitters right now in his recruitment. Stokes said he's expecting Louisville to pick things up after the ABCD camp, too.

Another day at the office

Mike Davis is back. The former Pittsburgh commit is playing great and he should land at a prep school sometime soon. The long lefty is crafty around the basket and uses his huge wingspan to score inside the paint and cause some havoc on the defensive end of the floor.

Deon Thompson, a 6-foot-8, 253-pound power forward from Torrance, Calif., is a hard-working big man with a nice touch around the cup. He's got an array of post moves and decent rebounder. The big carries his size well and has shown flashes of potential. San Diego State, Pepperdine, Nevada and Kent State have tendered him a scholarship he said while Washington and Gonzaga are watching him closely this summer.

College coaches are very impressed with the way Wayne Chism is playing at the camp. The 6-foot-8 forward from Memphis is the epitome of a hard-working, blue-collar big man. He'll go for double digits in boards, fight on the blocks for position, block a shot here and there and set picks for his guards to get open looks.

Dennis Horner said West Virginia has found it's way to his top spot on his favorites list and he'll play at the Big East school next week for an AAU tournament. Wake Forest, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Connecticut are also involved with the crafty 6-foot-7 small forward from New Jersey. Horner said he'd like to decide before the school year starts.

In defeat, Taylor King played incredibly well. The 6-foot-7 forward had 23 points, eight rebounds and shot 10 of 18 from the floor against Oden, Cook and Conley. The California kid just does it all. He's going to be great in the right system.

Talk to any Kansas fan about Dwight Lewis and you'll generally get asked, "How good is that kid really going to be?" The answer is up to him really. If he shows off an ability to be a pass first, shoot second kind of player he was on Thursday, he's going to be really good in Kansas's system. He sees the floor better than people give him credit for and he's not a selfish player by any stretch of the means. Assuming that guys like Mario Chalmers and Julian Wright are still in Lawrence when Lewis gets there, he's going to be more effective in the backcourt than expected.

Oh so young, oh so talented

Talk to those from New York and some may question New York Knicks general manager Isaiah Thomas but a lot of New Yorkers in attendance aren't questioning 2007 guard Isaiah Thomas from Seattle. The mighty-mite point guard is doing a great job of running the show with guys like Kevin Love, Darrell Arthur and Lance Thomas on his team. Thomas is amongst the camp's top scorers and assist leaders and he's proving that his game is bigger than his body.

Corey Fisher said a decision could be coming soon. He told Rivals.com that he will visit Memphis after his AAU team plays at the Breakdown Hoopfest in Miami, Fla., next week and commit sometime before the end of the summer. The Tigers are in the race for his services along with DePaul, St. John's, Connecticut, Cincinnati, South Florida and Virginia. Fisher said all of the schools have offered.

Class of 2008 point guard Darius Gabriel has figured out that passing is better than scoring for him here at the camp. The 6-foot New York City native is distributing the ball well and is leading the camp in assists at nearly five a game. He's deciding on attending either South Kent or Winchendon next year but you better believe he's got a list of schools recruiting him. He listed Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, DePaul, Connecticut, Illinois and St. John's.

Rakim Sanders, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound shooting guard from St. Andrews in Rhode Island is benefiting from playing on the same team as Oden and company. He's taken advantage of the opportunity. This kid can really shoot the ball. He said Syracuse, Georgia, Connecticut, Ohio State and Boston College are beginning to show interest. The class of 2007 prospect will be in Vegas and L.A. with his New England Playaz team.

Dallas (Texas) Carter High School product Brockeith Pane is a big point guard at 6-foot-3 and he's quietly having himself a nice all-around camp after two days of work. He's been a top scorer for his team but he's also comfortable with the set-up role. Coaches from the Big 12 know about this rising junior but don't be surprised to hear more about him later in the year.

Darnell Gant went to work on the glass in the afternoon session when we watched the 6-foot-8 rising junior from Los Angeles. He snatched 11 rebounds against 6-foot-10 Mike Davis and 6-foot-9 James Hickson. Gant is incredibly long and bouncy. He's got interest from UCLA, Arizona, Washington and Iowa. Gant said he grew up watching Louisville and North Carolina and would like to hear from the two powers.

Odds & Ends

Try this stat on for size. Jamie Skeen has lost one game dating back to January. The Wake Forest commit won a state championship in North Carolina and finished the season 20-0. Then his Carolina Miners team won the Charlie Weber tournament in April and went undefeated. His team at the NBA camp lost one game but claimed the championship and so far the ABCD camp, his squad as gone 4-0. Think this kid can help Skip Prosser in more ways than scoring and rebounding? You bet.

No one is rebounding the ball better at the camp than Dwayne Collins. He grabbed 15 rebounds in the afternoon session and he's doing the yeoman's work along the way. The freak athlete is playing strong.

Greg Oden and Derrick Caracter will match up again tomorrow pinning the two big men again after they met last year. Caracter did a great job against the 7-footer. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out again tomorrow.

Phil Jones is a huge body at 6-foot-11, 245-pounds and he's got a school list of some big time programs. He rattled off a list of Tennessee, Georgetown, Connecticut, St. John's, Georgia, Florida State, DePaul and UCLA.

Over the last year, Pat Behan has grown nearly four inches to his 6-foot-8 frame and added some strength along the way. The Notre Dame (Va.) product has a great shot for his size and he's really becoming a good rebounder, too. He's hoping to hear from some more high-majors after the ABCD camp and he's hearing from George Washington, St. Bonaventure, LaSalle and San Francisco.

Phillip Nelson out of Kaizer, Oregon said he's holding offers from Washington and Gonzaga while Arizona and Connecticut are showing interest.

Since moving to Phoenix for the summer, Memphis product Jay Watkins is beginning to hear from more west coast schools. Arizona and Southern Cal are asking about him, he said. The Pac-10 programs are joined by Marquette, Western Kentucky, Colorado, Georgia, UAB and Vanderbilt. Watkins will play with the Arizona Magic for the remainder of the summer.

Top Performers

All stats are after four games played.

Top Scorers
1. Paul Harris 17
2. O.J. Mayo 16.8
3. Kevin Love 16.3
4. Damion James 16
5. Alex Tyus 15.3

Top Rebounders
1. Dwayne Collins 8
2. Greg Oden 7.5
2. George Fotso 7.5
2. Taylor King 7.5
3. Kevin Love 7.3

Top Assists
1. Darius Gabriel 4.8
2. Isaiah Thomas 4.5
2. Kelvin Grady 4.5
2. O.J. Mayo 4.5
3. Mike Conley 4.3


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