Sullinger, Selby poised to move up
This past weekend's NBPA Top 100 Camp featured many of the top rising juniors and seniors in the country. Here are five things we picked up at the top-notch showcase event.
1. Point guard could be the deepest position in the Class of 2010
What was astounding about the point guard play at this event was not only the high skill level several prospects exhibited, but it was also impressive to see how versatile these prospects were. For instance, the event's MVP, Kendall Marshall (Arlington, Va./Bishop O'Connell), was a pass-first point guard. He and Ray McCallum fit into that category. We also saw some outstanding play from scoring point guards such as Josh Selby (Hyattsville, Md./Lake Clifton) and Joe Jackson (Memphis/White Station). Tyler Thornton (Washington, D.C./Gonzaga) and Aaron Craft (Findlay, Ohio/Liberty-Benton) made their impact on the defensive end. Of course, the top two-rated point guard prospects in this class -- Brandon Knight (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Pine Crest) and Kyrie Irving (Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick) -- are very unique because they are strong in every aspect of the point guard position. It's their overall play that separates them from the rest of the pack at this point.
2. Harrison Barnes is going to have some major competition for the top spot in the Class of 2010
Coming into this event, Barnes (Ames, Iowa) was the top-ranked player in the 2010 class. Although Barnes performed well in Virginia, he's going to have to step it up if he will retain the No. 1 ranking at summer's end. Jared Sullinger (Columbus, Ohio/Northland), who has spent some time in the top spot in the 2010 rankings, showed why he's been on the recruiting radar for years. The 6-8 post looks to be in better shape, which made him more explosive around the basket. His ability to score on the blocks is devastating on the offensive end. Another player who might have made himself a contender for the top spot is the aforementioned Selby. Currently ranked No. 24, Selby showed the aggressiveness and confidence coaches love to see from their lead guards. His size, determination and scoring ability made him one of the top players at the camp. Conversely, we were slightly disappointed in Tristan Thompson's showing. Like Sullinger, Thompson (Brampton, Ont./Findlay Prep (Nev.)) added much-needed muscle. However, it seems to have slowed him down a bit.
3. Fabricio Melo has the talent to be an impact college center
The buzz on Melo was picking up in the weeks before the NBPA Top 100 camp. His play in Charlottesville probably places him as the fourth-best big guy in the 2010 class -- behind Sullinger, Thompson and Joshua Smith (Kentwood, Wash./Covington). Standing at 6-11, 250, Melo's size is impressive enough. It's his effort, however, that really sets him apart. His effort is consistent and constant. It's fun to watch a kid that big go after it with this type of tenacity. He can score in the post and can hit midrange jumpers. He also rebounds on both ends with a nonstop motor. Melo is a true center, which is a rare specimen in the college game.
4. Several wing prospects are primed to break out
Stacy Poole (Jacksonville, Fla./Andrew Jackson) and Justin Coleman (Richmond, Va./Henrico) might have been the surprise players of the event. Poole is a slasher and a finisher in transition. His shooting is streaky, but good enough to keep defenses honest. Coleman, on the other hand, is a very skilled jump-shooter. He also is capable of getting to the rim in the half court. Jelan Kendrick (Atlanta/Westlake) and Evan Smotrycz (Reading, Mass./New Hampton School) also deserve mention for their stellar play. Kendrick is a wing player who is long and athletic and scores it off the bounce. He can even help at point guard if necessary. The Michigan-bound Smotrycz will be a perfect fit in John Beilein's system; he can shoot, pass and handle the ball extremely well.
5. Michael Gilchrist is clearly the best prospect in the Class of 2011
Gilchrist (Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick) once again impressed the masses with his play at this event. What we found to be most encouraging about his game was that he can win games for his team without scoring. Gilchrist has great basketball instincts and is a good teammate. He also showed great toughness, getting hurt during the event but playing through. This kid does things that you wouldn't expect a 16-year-old to be capable of.
Antonio Williams and Reggie Rankin cover basketball recruiting for Scouts Inc.