The NBPA Top 100 Camp in Virginia is quickly becoming one of the top summer stops on the circuit. The camp does an outstanding job of preparing young kids for life on and off the court in college. This summer, four players with Gonzaga recruiting interest took the floor at the Top 100 camp and laced em' up against some of the top players from the United States. Current verbal commit Gary Bell Jr. and prospects Kyle Wiltjer, Norman Powell, and Landen Lucas were all in attendance and, all in all, did an outstanding job. The camp differs from typical AAU stops because it brings in individuals rather than teams and forces players to get outside their comfort zone a bit. Here is a look at how our "big four" did at the camp:
Gary Bell: Starting at the top with Gonzaga's 2011 verbal commit, Mr. Bell had a relatively quiet camp but seemed to liven it up as his time in Virginia wound down. Here is a great snippet from a recent Scout.com piece:
Gary Bell, SG – After a somewhat slow camp, Bell, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound guard, got after it Friday night. He got it going with a three-pointer off the catch then he began attacking the basket. He’s a physical guard that doesn’t mind a little contact and plays hard on both ends. The Zags scored a good one in Bell.
As a fan, I find myself infatuated with Gary Bell because of his ability to adapt to any role. On his Kentridge High School team, Gary is the primary offensive weapon and scorer (case in point the 55 point game this past season). On his AAU team, he plays with Tony Wroten...and their aren't two basketballs. While he has scored well this summer, you won't see him get huge write-ups because he's more of an offensive facilitator. At the Top 100 camp, he was paired on a team with top ten point guard Myck Kabongo and, although he began the camp slowly, he scored 13 points in one of his last games and obviously impressed many scouts in attendance. Another great part of Gary's game is that second to last sentence of the quoted piece: "Plays hard on both ends". That doesn't happen too much on the summer circuit!
The three other players we were following closely also have many top programs on the West Coat after their services. Wiltjer, Lucas, and Powell are all high major players and they proved their worth at the camp.
Kyle Wiltjer: Few players have had a more successful summer, both individually and team-wise, than Wiltjer. His AAU club, the Oakland Soldiers, are by many accounts the top team going right now. On an individual basis, Wiltjer has been on fire this summer. He continued his hot play this weekend and drew some great reviews from those in attendance. Here's a snippet from the NBE Basketball Report:
Kyle Wiltjer saved his best for last scoring a camp high 26 points on 10 for 12 shooting as the Magic flushed the Spurs 91-86 to capture the inaugural "Toilet Bowl". Wiltjer’s heroics overcame an explosive effort from Aaron Ross who finished with 24 points for the Spurs.
And also a few wonderful tweets from Scouts at the camp:
scoutsfocus Kyle Wiltjer burning up the nets in UVA's practice gym. Boatright is creating the shots for Wiltjer
scoutsfocus Kyle Wiltjer. McD's All American? Check!
NorthstarBball Kyle Wiltjer runs for an O board in the corner, posts up, spins, baby hooks it in. Nice, nice play.scoutsfocus Kyle Wiltjer is putting on a show, draining 3s with ease and getting to the rack and scoring over Mickelson
Wiltjer exudes versatility. He is an above average post player and combines that with becoming a match up nightmare from the outside. My main concern for Kyle was defense but you never hear many negatives about that aspect of his game. His shot blocking his improved greatly over the summer and I have yet to really hear a significant weakness about his style. I worry at times that he might hang outside too much but, if he's making shots, I don't really care where they come from.
Norman Powell: I don't know if the scholarships would ever work out but Powell intrigues me beyond belief as well. The one thing I had always heard about Powell was that he was one of the most athletic players on the AAU Circuit. Most the time, athleticism means he is loaded with potential. In Powell's case, it appears like he is starting to realize that potential right now. A Rivals.com writer tweeted this over the weekend:
clintjackson1 Best players, not prospects, at the NBA Top 100 Camp are Kabongo, PJ Hairston, Amile Jefferson, Norman Powell, Tracy Abrams, Purvis, cont.
and...clintjackson1 My vote for the best wing defender at NBA Top 100 Camp is Norman Powell, 6-3, 205 lb SG from San Diego. Great footwork and balance on D
Powell had three double-digit scoring efforts this weekend and apparently had a few major dunks that brought everyone in attendance out of their seats. His major knock is his lack of a consistent jump shot but this blurb from Scout.com has made me think otherwise:
Norman Powell, SG – Over the past few weeks Powell has managed to grow on me. A much better athlete than I realized, Powell, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound guard, his scoring package Friday. He has a good-looking stroke from deep, but also showed a mid-range jumper and a nice euro-step move in transition. He’s easily one of the best prospects on the west coast.
Like I said, Powell might not be in the realm of possibility at this point but he does report a Gonzaga offer. Where there's a will, there's a way!
Landen Lucas: Last, but certainly not least is Landen Lucas. One of the few 2012 prospects in attendance, many eyes were on Landen to see how he would respond to playing against many players out of his age group. This quote from a Rivals piece sums up the experience:
The good thing about the NBPA Camp for Landen Lucas is that he'll leave with the experience of going up against all the best big men in the 2011 class, so he knows exactly what he has to work on over the next year.
This is not to say Lucas had a bad camp at all. Scout.com's Dave Telep said that Lucas was the best outlet passer in the camp. He apparently plays with a big motor and goes at it at both ends of the court. I have to think Lucas is a big time target on Mark Few's radar as our depth in the post is very thin once Robert Sacre leaves GU. His recruitment will probably mimic Wiltjer's in the end. He's already getting interest from all over the country and has plenty of time to grow up and mature as a player. I look forward to following Lucas' progress and think he is definitely the next outstanding Portland big man. If Few and the staff were able to land Wiltjer in 2011 and Lucas in 2012, it would be a very dynamic post duo for many years.