Cook Soap Opera Ends on High Note
Posted Jun 3 2007 10:03AM
Pre-Draft Camp: Day 1 | Day 2 | Sloppy play Wednesday | Day 3 | Day 4 | Marty Blake: Inside Camp
ORLANDO, Fla., June 1, 2007 — The story read like an episode of The Young and the Restless.
When Ohio State freshman Daequan Cook announced he’d be entering his name in this year’s draft, many questioned the decision. The soap opera continued in Orlando this week, with Cook taking part in this year’s NBA Pre-Draft Camp.
There were many twists and turns along the way. First, Cook coasted through drills and his first two games. Next, he told ESPN’s Andy Katz that he had every intention of keeping his name in the draft, despite a lackluster showing and no guarantee he’d be selected in the first round.
Then came the climax. In his third and final game Friday, Cook caught fire, scoring 22 points on 9-for-15 shooting and making several athletic plays along the way. Whether he played his way into the first round remains to be seen, but it was an impressive final act. All signs point to Cook keeping his name in the draft.
It was more of the same Friday for Ali Traore, who capped a very solid camp with 19 points, leading Team Two to a 93-92 win over Team Three. Traore clearly helped himself as much as any player in the camp, playing with energy and showing an impressive low post game.
Texas A&M’s Joseph Jones almost had his own story book ending Friday, making several critical plays down the stretch for Team Three. The ironic part was that Jones had technically already written himself out of the script. He picked up his sixth foul late in the second half, but the official scorer didn’t notice. Jones stayed in the game, took a critical charge, and hit what appeared to be the game-winning basket, before a last second three-pointer by Virginia’s J.R. Reynolds forced overtime, where Team Two eventually came away with the victory.
Jones built momentum as the week went on, making several nice plays near the rim. He’s not a leaper, but he knows how to position himself. Jones would be best served returning to school for his senior season and improving his overall game.
As for Reynolds, it was an uneven camp, though this was not entirely his fault. He was placed on a team with Taurean Green and Jared Jordan, the two best point guards in the field, and had to play mostly off the ball. He was never really able to get in the flow. At 6-2, Reynolds will need to show more point skills to earn serious second round consideration.
A player who gave teams much to think about this week was Stephane Lasme of UMass. Lasme blocked another five shots Friday, giving him 13 in three games. Though it’s hard to label him in terms of position, Lasme has certain athletic gifts that could easily translate at the NBA level, with shotblocking the obvious strength.
Team One 93, Team Six 89
Notre Dame’s Russell Carter wasn’t the dominant force he was in Portsmouth, given the raised level of competition, but he continued to show why teams picking in the second round will have to consider him.
Carter scored eight points on 4-for-6 shooting and added four rebounds for Team One. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better athlete in the field. When examining Carter, you have to envision what he might become, given the fact he was a late-bloomer at Notre Dame, who continues to improve his skill level.
Boise State’s Coby Karl had another strong game, leading Team Six with 17 points. Nevada’s Marcelus Kemp and Alabama’s Jermareo Davidson added 16 points each.
Kemp shot the ball very well in drills throughout the week and had his moments in game action. When he plays to his strengths, Kemp is an effective pull-up jump shooter. Another junior, he has the option to return to Nevada for his senior season, with the chance to play his way up the draft board.
Ditto for his Nevada teammate Ramon Sessions, though Sessions probably has a more pressing decision at hand. The 2007 NBA Draft is high on talent, but not necessarily high on point guards. Sessions could conceivably be taken fairly high in the second round, with an outside chance at round one. The safe play would probably be to return to school and enter the NBA next year as a first-round pick.
Davidson was up and down this week. At times, he showed range and athleticism not often seen in a player his size. He clearly struggles with shot selection and battling in traffic.
Team Four 95, Team Five 93
Team Five led most of the way, before Team Four gradually began cutting into the lead. With 2:38 left in the second half, coach Rex Kalamian inserted Boston College’s Jared Dudley in to the game. That was all she wrote.
Dudley had a key put-back, hit two free throws and grabbed a huge offensive rebound as Team Four came away victorious. The sequence was emblematic of Dudley’s career and possible future in the NBA. He just knows how to make plays on the basketball court. You have to think there’s a place in the NBA for such a player.
Rashaun Freeman of UMass led Team Four with 16 points and Oregon’s Aaron Brooks added 14 points. Brooks didn’t have a spectacular week, as he’s really more of a six-foot two masquerading as a one. What Brooks brings to the table is outstanding speed and the ability to knock down shots. He’ll have to find a niche in order to make the league.
Purdue’s Carl Landy finished on a strong note, tallying 12 points and eight rebounds in a losing cause. Nothing much new to report here. Landry, though undersized, is an effective post player, who simply finds ways to get it done. Against this level of competition, he’ll pretty much always be productive. As for his NBA potential, there are many who feel he will play in the league, if not this year, then down the road.
Virginia Tech’s Coleman Collins led all scorers with 18 points, capping off a very solid showing from a player who many felt didn’t belong here, given the fact he didn’t receive an invitation to Portsmouth. Three games is probably not enough to ensure draft night glory, but Collins fattened his wallet a bit this week.
Whether Virginia’s Sean Singletary does the same remains to be seen. Another junior, Singletary failed to stand out, but if you look closely you see a future NBA player. He’s short (6-0), but Singletary is a gifted athlete who will defend and knock down open shots. If he keeps his name in the draft, he’s a second-round pick at worst.