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Observations from the June 2008 NBDL Pre-Draft Camp

Yesterday, I went to the Saturday games of the NBDL Pre-draft Camp at the Suwanee Sports Complex in Suwanee. I called on Friday to see if I could get into the camp, but the receptionist told me it was a private event and spectators were not allowed in to watch the games. One of my character traits is stubbornness. I went in the morning and did what any NBA blogger would do. I parked, walked around the building, and entered the back door of the facility. After walking through a couple of empty gyms where guys were shooting around, I got into the gym and grabbed a seat on the metal bleachers. Here is what I saw, what I learned, and what players stood out in Saturday’s games.

Apparently, the camp opened on Friday night with some team meetings and possibly some drills. Saturday started bright and early with team practices at 8 am and the games started 30 minutes later. The Suwanee Sports Complex has 7 regulation NBA courts and the camp used 4 courts. I have some experience in recruiting, AAU basketball, and basketball camp games. Usually, when guys who do not know each other are thrown together on a team, bad basketball is the result. In a strange way, this was the case, but the games were competitive. The players played hard, competed, and generally listened to the coaches. However, the basketball was not well played. In this country, we simply do not teach the fundamentals. Passing, shooting, cutting, screening and other fundamentals are lost to almost every player. Jeff Caha, a 6’6” 235 pound forward from Wayland Baptist, is one guy that screened, passed, and knocked down open jumpers. I have never heard of Wayland Baptist and Caha looked slow (he kind of looked injured to me), but he played hard. I actually saw him cheering for a couple of teammates when he was on the bench.

The games were better than I expected. Athleticism, physical play, and defense were all on display. Most of the games were low scoring (they played two 20 minutes halves) and there were hardly any easy baskets until the end of games. The campers clearly knew that defense would be looked at by scouts, and I overheard a couple of guys talking about that fact when they did not get enough shot attempts. Probably, you can chalk this up to coaching. Most of the coaches seemed to be ex-NBA players. I recognized coaches Tracy Murray, Grant Long, and Tony Campbell. I am sure some of the other guys were in the NBDL, but I did not recognize everyone doing the coaching. Tony Campbell was impressive though. He did not have good players on his team, but he was up coaching, talking to guys, and working the officials. He stood the whole time I watched his team. His team executed some plays and played hard. The players and coaches have to be commended for the intensity of the games.

On the roster I was able to grab from one of the campers, there were 200 players listed. Probably, 100 of those players had no business being on the court at this level, but they did pay their money. The best prospect I saw on Saturday was Kojo Mensah, a 23 year-old, 6’0 185 pound combination guard from Duquesne University. This guy can play the point for someone in the D League. He is a little smaller than listed, but athletic with long arms. Clearly, he can be a great on the ball defender if he wants to be. What he does best is score and he will be able to get to the free throw line. Outside shot is a question mark. He is a solid point guard prospect, but he seemed to want to play off the ball. Too small to be effective at the shooting guard. In no particular order, here are some other players that I liked and would be worth a look for a D League team:

Jeff Caha, 6’6 235, Wayland Baptist
Willie Richard, 6’3 185, Jarvis Christian College
Matthew Barrow, 6’4 185, Lamar University
Latreven Henry, 6’6 212
Richard Chaney, 6’5 200, University of Utah
Damien Goodman, 6’6 225, UNC Pembroke
Bennet Davis, 6’9 235, Northeastern University
Darius Mattear, 6’7 230, UTEP
Ty Morrison, 6’8 220, Grand Canyon University


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