Twenty of the nation's best guards attended the Stephen Curry Select Camp in Alameda, Calif. for a private 4-day workout regimen that included hands on instruction from the NBA's reigning MVP. We offer our observations of the workouts and take a quick look at some of the standouts.
Stephen Curry of the World Champion Golden State Warriors represents the current state of the game. The 6-foot-3 guard out of Davidson is a point guard by trade and one of the greatest shooters the game has ever seen. He's the leader of a new era of lead guards that can score as effectively as they can run a team. Many teams nowadays utilize the two best guards on its team -- with no regard for position.
UConn won the NCAA title in 2014 with that philosophy and Golden State employed it as well -- and won 67 games and the NBA title utilizing small lineups. Golden State's strategy is obviously working and what Curry represents to basketball fans is working, too -- he recently surpassed LeBron James for the top spot among individual NBA jersey sales.
Curry had the ear of the guards in attendance at the Stephen Curry Select Camp and throughout the four-day camp at St. Joseph (Alameda, Calif.) led the workouts with prototype drill samples and hands-on instruction. The campers appreciated the work of Under Armour's top hoops pitchman.
Many of the individual drills on Tuesday focused on scoring from the guard position and finishing with secondary moves. The campers practiced a series of stepbacks, floaters and runners, but it's no surprise one of the top performers was an explosive guard who rarely settles for shots going away from the basket -- 6-foot-2 2016 point guard Dennis Smith Jr. of Trinity Christian (Fayetteville, N.C.). Smith caught Curry off guard on the final day with a dunk over his defender during a 1 on 1 drill. (See it here)
The uncommitted prospect was eager to take in the instruction and was arguably the most explosive guard in simulated 4-on-4 situations. Smith does need to work on consistency in his jump shot, but he surely doesn't lack confidence in his ability. In 1-on-1 situations, he was nearly impossible to stop. On the camp's final day, there was a 1-and-1 competition and Smith won, besting 6-foot-8 2017 Michael Porter Jr. of Father Tolton (Columbia, Mo.) in the finals.
Porter attended the camp's final three days after leaving the Nike Basketball Academy in Los Angeles and made quite the impression with his vast scoring package and shooting touch. Porter and 6-foot-2 2017 Trevon Duval of St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.), who we rated as the top performer at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, were named co-MVPs of the SC30 Camp.
Porter and 6-foot-9 Billy Preston of Prime Prep (Dallas), who also attended the Nike Basketball Academy, were by far the tallest campers in attendance -- and were the only two players who national scouts wouldn't consider true guards. Both have some guard skill, but need to work on exploding out of their triple threats as some of the smaller guards are able to do in drills. Not all of their offensive moves are explosive, but the talent they possess at their size is impressive nonetheless. As one camp coach said about Preston: "He's a tough shot taker, but he's also a tough shot maker."
Jaylen Hands, a 6-foot-2 2017 prospect out of Foothills Christian (El Cajon, Calif.), was one of the campers who thrives on the ball and off it equally well. The drills and 4-on-4 play emphasized coordination and quick decision-making and Hands was impressive scoring or making the right reads to set up teammates. Hands has deep range on his jump shot and made defenders pay if they sagged off on him during simulations. He also got in the key at will using an explosive first step and made defenders pay with a nice series of drop off passes and ball reversals. Once Hands gains strength in his lower extremities so he isn't knock away from open driving lanes or knocked off balance, he'll be in the conversation as one of the top point guard prospects in the country.
Hands teamed up with Porter, 6-foot-1 2016 Jaylen Fisher of Bolton (Cordova, Tenn.) and collegian Bryant McIntosh (Northwestern) to win a majority of the quick simulation games during 4-on-4s where the defensive team that got the stop or the offensive team that scored stayed on the court while another team waiting to play defense was stationed on the opposite end of the court.
Fisher is ultra competitive and tough around the rim in keeping plays alive.
Smith's quartet with 6-foot-3 2017 Jalek Felton of Mullins (Mullins, S.C.), 6-foot 2016 Seventh Woods of Hammond (Columbia, S.C.) and collegian Isaiah Whitehead (Seton Hall) also had a nice run of victories.
Woods displayed quick hands on defense and Felton explosive moves on the baseline.
Another camp standout was Michael Bibby Jr., the son of the former NBA guard and a rising senior at Shadow Mountain (Phoenix, Ariz.). Bibby Jr. knocked down a high percentage of jump shots and excelled in situations where he played off Curry, whose father Dell also played in the NBA. Dell was in attendance offering instruction alongside his son.