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Stickdog At Nike!

When it comes to camp coverage, we are always thrilled to see our pal Stickdog's take. Here are his first notes from Nike, with comments on several Duke recruits.
From Duke's point of view, the biggest story at Nike so far is the emergence of Michael Thompson as a true post force, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

Michael had a few errors of commission when I watched him, but his aggressively successful play on offense and defense is opening a lot of eyes this weekend. Let's just say that it's not a great idea to question the Duke staff's knack for discovering emerging talent.

Shelden Williams asserted himself in the paint (both posting up and facing up), and was quite a defensive force as well. IL big man Robert Archibald is the "assistant coach" of Shelden Williams' team. The Illinois, Duke and NC staffs smilingly viewed as "The Landlord" coldheartedly rejected a lessor’s dozen of prospective tenants.

Shavlik Randolph and JJ Redick are playing together on the "Duke" Nike team. Could this be some kind of a sign? Combine this with an incredible afternoon summer thundershower when the sky turned Duke blue and resounded with a crash that put Cecil
B. DeMille to shame, and you’ve probably got more than just a simple coincidence. Both JJ and Shav had their moments on Sunday, especially in the 3-on-3 format. Shavlik is obviously suffering from
tendonitis in one knee, and he also seems to be pressing a little, sometimes making a series of amazing moves to get by multiple defenders only to just miss finishing. Shavlik has buckets of skill and fight, but he needs a little more strength to operate effectively in really heavy traffic.

Besides his sweet shot, JJ Redick really has a nose for the ball, and he follows his shot almost as well as he launches it. JJ is moving without the ball very well, and he is making the extra pass to put his team in better scoring position. But JJ may be trying a bit too hard to prove that he can hit the closely guarded three off the dribble. Although he has shown he can work off screens his whole career, I don’t mind reruns when the show’s this good.

Heady Iowa commit Jeff Horner ran the "Duke" team impressively while 6’8” Aliou Kane provided muscle. In the Sunday afternoon game, 6'2" Indiana WG Evan Seacat looked like JJ Redick-lite, showing off a tough all-around game as well as nice range, but he cooled off a bit Sunday night. Incidentally, the head coach of the Nike “Duke” team is Maurice Evans, who coaches Shelden Williams’ incredible OK AAU team, Athletes First.

Larry King Goes to Nike Camp:

Amare Stoudamire is the only can't miss NBA prospect here, and even he has a glaring weakness (perimeter game) ... JR Morris is one of the top 10 scores in the Indianapolis. IL got themselves a good one, especially when it comes to putting the ball in the hoop ... Justin Gray gets a bit of a bum rap as a PG. He can and does set up his teammates ... Torin Francis has been very impressive, especially in 3 on 3 games and big man drills. He is making a move for consensus top 15 status ... Sean May measured out at 6'7". Note to Sean: This doesn't make you a wing. Stay inside and push everyone around ... Speaking of May, a big rumor floating around Indianapolis is that Bracey Wright and Sean are trying to convince John Gilchrist to join them at IU. It doesn't hurt that May and Gilchrist are playing together and Jared Jeffries is their "assistant coach" ... 6’4” FL WG Rashad Anderson was on fire today. In fact, every time I see him, he puts on a show. Some dismiss him as a gunner, but he slashes and crashes effectively if he isn't on from outside the border. He is a big time scorer and I can't imagine him not being a top 50 player … Anderson has teamed up with Evan Burns for maybe the nicest 1-2 offensive punch on any team at Nike. So far, Evan has proved to be one of the top five players at the camp. His game is smooth and under control now, and he's added a couple more jaw dropping NBA-style moves to his bag of tricks ... Speaking of the NBA, Kelenna Azubuike has shown fine athleticism, but there is a growing consensus that he may have something in common with Don Quixote ... Ousmane Konate came to Nike Camp almost straight from Senegal. He has displayed fine athleticism and a raw but imposing post presence. If he is classified as a rising junior, he could end up near the head of his class ... Canada's 6'4" WG Denham Brown keeps proving that they grow explosive and dominant hoopsters north of the border as well. He is a high flying 210 lbs of muscle, and he can hit the bomb with impressive elevation ... AZ signee Chris Rodgers is the real deal. He changes speed on his dribble to get around his man as well as anyone here, and he is equally adept at either guard position ... Early Georgia commitment Alexander Johnson measured just 6'7" to edge out a strong field for this year's "Incredible Shrinking Man" award. To his credit, Johnson is showing off some surprisingly developed face up and perimeter skills to go with his dubious award. But don't look for him in the oh-so-body-conscious NBA too soon ... Speaking of changing heights, 6'3” Rashad McCants seems to have gained back an inch since the NBA players camp last weekend. He also regained his dominating game by moving back to WF ... Early Maryland commits Cortez Davis and Chris McCray will continue the Terps' impressive line of underfed scoring machines. These guys can really put the ball in the hole. 6'6" Davis is particularly adept at scoring in traffic, and 6'3" McCray has NBA range. However, both of these guys are a few quarter-pounders shy of a visible shadow ... WF Kennedy Winston surprised a lot of folks by showing up at Nike at the last minute. He is a deluxe athletic scorer who is showing off his dizzying arsenal on Shelden Williams' "Stanford" team ... Basketball really runs in the family for new Duke walk-on Mark Causey. At least one of his older brothers has played D1 ball, and his 5'10" rising junior little bro Matt plays a pretty mean PG for 168 lbs ... Speaking of brothers, Shelden Williams has his own younger bro who should be joining him next year as a freshman on his Oklahoma state champion Midwest City team. Hopefully, in a few years he’ll be following his big brother Shelden’s footsteps to another recent championship team.

Rising juniors who managed to more than catch my eye (in extremely rough order of impressiveness): quick, smooth and wiry 6'6" IL wing Brian Randle (who has a little Grant Hill in him), extremely active 6'8" combo-forward beanstalk Ndudi Ebi, 6'2" Roanoke VA (and big UVA target) PG JR Reynolds (who has a little Chris Duhon in him), slick 6'3" Detroit WG Dion Harris, strong and skilled 6'4" CA wing Wendell White, beefy 6'6" GA BF Corey Gibbs, smooth scoring 6'1" WG Shannon Brown, super athletic 6'2" WG Dwan Youmans, 6’3” MA WG leaper Michael Jones, tough 5'10" MI (Flint) PG Brandon Bell, high rising 6'1" WG Jeremy Ingram, 6'4" GA wing Tim Morris, slithery 6'6" AZ WF Devon Evertson, 6'2" athlete Richard McBride, 6'4" CA WG Mike Strawberry, 5'10" GA PG Mike Woodard, 6'6" NJ combo-forward Luol Deng and 6'0" LA WG Jarrius Jackson. Athletic 6'7" FL WF Akini Adkins has obvious physical ability but he was pressing with his shot selection Sunday. 7'3" Shagari Alleyne belongs somewhere near the top of this list, but it's hard to even loosely rank a game that is both dominant and ungainly. Please note that there are several other 2003 players here who impressed me and/or were reportedly quite impressive, but I just haven't seen enough of them yet.

6'7" 260 lb rising MO sophomore(!) Kalen Grimes dominated interior play at times. Other nice 2004 players were 6'7" AL BF DJ White and 6'1" Burlington NC PG JamesOn (yes, he was On) Curry.