The big news early from the 2015 NBPA Top 100 Camp at the University of Virginia was the announcement elite big man Thon Maker will remain in the 2016 class for the entirety of the upcoming high school season. Maker's announcement comes on the heels of some excellent play at the camp. Other early standouts include Zach Brown, Trevon Duval and Brian Bowen.
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The annual NBPA Top 100 Camp kicked off Wednesday at John Paul Jones Arena on the campus of the University of Virginia with plenty of the nation's top overall prospects in attendance competing in NBA-length games. In terms of elite prospects in one camp setting, the NBPA Top 100 Camp, top to bottom, is arguably the top stop on the summer grassroots scene even with a few elites deciding not to play or unavailable because of USA Basketball commitments/tryouts.
Over the first two days of camp, there has been some excellent play on the court, but the big news came off it as 7-foot Thon Maker of Orangeville Prep (Canada) announced to a group of reporters that he would remain in the Class of 2016. That means Maker won't enroll in college until the 2016-17 season.
Previously Maker had looked at the option of graduating in December and enrolling at a college for the second semester of the 2015-16 season.
"I'm definitely going to stay and play it out," said Maker, who participated in and was one of the MVPs of the 2015 Ballislife All-American Game in early May. Maker might be the first player in grassroots basketball history to play in a national all-star game in the spring and return to high school basketball in the fall.
Maker's announcement coincided with the fact he has played excellent over the first two days of camp. He's looked relaxed and in sync and is the camp's leading scorer (17.8 ppg) and rebounder (7.8 rpg). Maker has shot the ball extremely well, moved well without it and been vocal with teammates. In his first game Maker had 12 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots in a victory. He had 18 and eight in his second game, 19 points, three blocks and 3 steals in his third and 22 and seven in his fourth.
There is some speculation that realistically Maker, who is originally from South Sudan, will never play a minute of college basketball. In light of today's announcement, the two schools that are the early leaders to land his services should he are Arizona State and Indiana.
Thursday Evening NBPA Top 100 Highlights Feat; Thon Maker, Deandre Ayton, Trevon Duval & more
Zach Brown Picks Up Kentucky Offer
It's still early in the recruiting process for 2017 center Zach Brown of Miami Senior (Miami, Fla.), but it's always big news when Big Blue Nation, otherwise known as the University of Kentucky, offers a scholarship. According to Brown, his father spoke to Kentucky head coach John Calipari on Thursday and the Wildcats offered the 7-foot, 270-pound junior-to-be a scholarship.
Brown stated Kentucky has always been his dream school because of how they utilize their post players, but he was also quick to point out it's early in the recruiting process and doesn't know much about the schools that are recruiting him the hardest. Brown has taken an unofficial to UCLA and lists Miami as one of his favorites. Since college programs have been allowed to contact recruits on June 15, Brown has heard from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Ohio State in addition to the Wildcats and Bruins. Besides Miami, he hasn't narrowed down his other favorites yet.
On the court, Brown has demonstrated the ability to finish around the basket with both hands and has a nice left-handed half hook in his arsenal. In a Wednesday game, Brown particularly shined with 8 points on 4-of-5 shooting and five rebounds.
Among an above average group of big men in attendance, Brown has been most impressed with 2016 Udoka Azubuike, a 6-foot-11, 280-pound force from Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.). After two days of camp, Clark Francis of the Hoop Scoop has Azubuike rated the camp's No. 2 overall performer behind Maker
We'll have our own list of standout performers after the conclusion of the camp on Saturday evening.
General NBPA Top 100 Camp Observations
There are three games simultaneously played at the camp and an individual can evaluate no more than two at a time. The statistics provided at the camp give us a great frame of reference for what's happening, but whom we feel are the best players so far is not necessarily reflected in the statistical output.
There are 12-minute quarters and a 24-second shot clock, so players that can create their own shot have a tremendous advantage over those that need to be set up by teammates. Brian Bowen of Arthur Hill (Saginaw, Mich.), a 6-foot-7 2017 small forward, is one of the players that has displayed the ability to score in a variety of ways.
The guard play has mirrored what elite high school players see from the professional ranks -- a score-first mentality and a movement away from true play-making from the lead guard position. Guards are more interchangeable than ever and at the highest level the lead guard has to be able to score the ball. The backcourt players at the NBPA Top 100 Camp are doing that with mixed results.
We'd still like to see the traditional emphasis on play-making, running a team and getting others involved and will reward that style of play at camp's conclusion. One who certainly fits that mold is Trevon Duval of St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.). The 6-foot-3 2017 prospect leads the camp so far with 5.0 assists per game and has turned in individual games of 12 points and three assists and 13 points, eight assists and three steals.
Our second report from the NBPA Top 100 Camp will include a rundown of our observations of the camp's top performers through the first two and a half days.