CHICAGO, June 7 -- Vincent Yarbrough is one of those tantalizing small forwards who sometimes shows ability of astonishing breadth, but at other times fades into the background. Brooks Sales, by contrast, is a consistently solid all-around power player who seldom stirs fans from their seats with any captivating plays. The Tennessee thoroughbred and Villanova pacer couldn’t be more different in terms of style, but in Friday afternoon’s high stakes sprint at the 2002 NBA Pre-Draft Camp, they emerged as show horses who earned blue ribbons of approval from NBA draft day decision makers.
Arkansas State's Jason Jennings had a double-double 12 points and 10 rebounds in a losing effort for Team 1 on Friday.
Yarbrough wiped out memories of two so-so performances earlier this week with an electric 27-point, nine-rebound, three-assist, three-steal tour de force that left scouts clamoring for more. Sales, who was 4-of-8 for eight points combined in his two previous games, delivered a nearly flawless performance with 26 points (on 11-of-13 shooting) and 12 rebounds in just 22 minutes of superb play. Yarbrough’s Team 2 took a 105-101 decision over Sales’ Team 3 (Box Score
), but Sales made the last 11 seconds of the game memorable by hitting back-to-back three-point shots from the top of the key to tighten the game in its waning moments. This from a man who made one of two three-point attempts in his entire senior season at Villanova.
Yarbrough delivered often enough this season to win SEC First Team honors for the Volunteers after averaging 18.1 points and 7.5 rebounds, but his smooth shot and explosive leaping ability indicate even greater levels of achievement might be possible. On this day, it all came together for Yarbrough. He started out hot, hitting six of eight shots in the first half for 16 points, then stayed hot, nailing four of six after halftime for another 11 points. With the score tied at 77 midway through the second half, Team 2 poured on a decisive 15-2 run, including the final five points by Yarbrough on a three-point shot and a swooping dunk, to take a seemingly commanding 92-79 lead with seven minutes remaining.
Sales, who averaged 10.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game for a young Wildcat unit this year, got off to a solid start by tallying eight points and five rebounds in the first half. But Sales was truly extraordinary in his 12 second-half minutes, scoring 18 points and grabbing seven rebounds, hitting seven of eight shots. The player who occasionally absorbed chants of “Nykesha’s better” during road games in reference to his basketball star sister who currently plays in the WNBA, showed there was no one better in this half of basketball.
Corsley Edwards of Central Connecticut State wrapped up his strong play at the camp with 21 points and nine rebounds for Team 2, while Tito Maddox of Fresno State, Chris Christoffersen of Oregon and J.R. Bremer of St. Bonaventure all contributed 13 points to the victory. Christoffersen also pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds.
Byron Mouton of Maryland continued his fine shooting and posted 15 points for Team 3, which also got 13 points and five assists from Mire Chatman, who finished third in the nation in scoring this year (26.2 ppg) for Texas-Pan American.
TEAM SIX 99, TEAM ONE 85: (Box Score) NBA scouts who saw Ronald Murray of Shaw University for the first time at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament this year could be forgiven if they wondered how Murray won Division II Player of the Year honors and led Shaw to the D-2 Final Four. In the Virginia tourney in April, Murray was tentative and strangely out of touch with his expansive offensive repertoire. The real Ronald Murray came to Chicago this week, and now scouts own a vivid snapshot of his potential. Murray capped a good week by scoring 19 points Friday to lead Team 6 to victory. He scored 10 points in nine minutes in the first half as Team 6 jumped to a 52-41 halftime lead. Murray added nine more points in seven second half minutes to close with 19 points in just 16 minutes of play. He showed scouts his high-elevation mid-range jump shot, as well as his quick slashes to the rim.
Julian Sensley aided Murray with 13 points and five rebounds for Team 6, which also got a game-high seven assists from Sean Kennedy of Marist. Aaron McGhee of Oklahoma wasn’t quite his overpowering self in this game, but he still managed to lead Team 1 with team-highs of 15 points and 12 rebounds. Jason Jennings of Arkansas State notched 12 points and 10 rebounds in the loss, while Udonis Haslem of Florida added 11 points and five rebounds.
TEAM FOUR 94, TEAM FIVE 86: (Box Score) Reggie Evans of Iowa was the sixth-leading rebounder in the nation this year with 11.1 rpg. His relentless board pounding paid dividends down the homestretch of the final game of the 2002 NBA Pre-Draft Camp. With his team clinging to a one-point lead with just over two minutes remaining, Evans snatched an offensive rebound and put it back in to give his team an 88-85 margin. The putback began an 8-1 closing run by Team 4 that saw it hold Team 5 to a single point over the last 2:35 of the game. Evans scored a game-high 18 points and added six rebounds for Team 4.
Elvin Mims of Southern Mississippi posted 14 points, while Darius Songaila of Wake Forest hit six of eight shots to contribute 12 points for the victors. Preston Shumpert of Syracuse led Team 5 with 14 points, while Robert Archibald of Illinois added 13 points and game-highs of eight rebounds and two blocks.
The contest marked the only game appearance this week of Lenny Cooke, a celebrated high school player from the New York area who missed his team’s first two games with a sprained left big toe. Cooke played 16 minutes and scored six points, including an impressive spinning putback of an offensive rebound.
PLAYER NOTES: Israel Sheinfeld of Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel) and Peter Fehse of SV Halle (Germany) missed all three games at camp with injuries. Fehse reported to camp with a right ankle sprain and Sheinfeld suffered a right mid-foot sprain in drills early in the camp.