By James Blackburn
I was fortunate to be able to scout the annual Chris Paul Elite Camp for the 5th straight year this year. Living in Winston-Salem, NC has its advantages, one of which is not having to travel far to catch the event, put on by Chris Paul and company. Some of the top high school and collegiate guards from around the country are invited to come in and compete against each other and also against Chris Paul himself. This year Chris brought in fellow pros Isaiah Thomas (Suns) and recently drafted Elfrid Payton (Magic). The coaching and the drills are top notch and are new to many of the players involved, especially those still in high school. I dedicated the majority of my time this year watching the college players (The HS and college players are divided up onto different courts). Below you will find my thoughts on some of the top performers and my ranking of the top 5.
1. Nigel Williams- Goss (6’3”, 190 lbs, Sophomore, Washington)
2. Dez Wells (6’5”, 220 lbs, Senior, Maryland)
3. Keifer Sykes (6’0”, 170 lbs, Senior, Wis.- Greenbay)
4. Treveon Graham (6’5”, 215 lbs, Senior, VCU)
5. Marcus Paige (6’1”, 170 lbs, Junior, UNC)
Pierria Henry (6’2″, 195 lbs, Senior, UNC-Charlotte)
Looked smooth and confident throughout camp. Has one of the smoothest euro-steps in camp. Has a nice high release, but shot needs to get more consistent. Showed good energy in day 2. Terrific size for the PG position. Is never hurried or bothered by pressure defense.
Dez Wells (6’5″, 220 lbs, Senior, Maryland)
Has one of the best bodies/frames here. Handles the ball very well- dribbles the ball quickly and hard. Has a high and effortless stroke. Is not a great shooter (needs more consistency) but is one of the better shooters at this event. I dont see him having any trouble adjusting to the NBA 3 pt line. Used ball screens very well- liked his pace. Was probably the best player overall in day 2. Doing a great job guarding the ball- using strength/size. His team won the 4 on 4 full court drill 3 times in a row. Is a big time athlete who should have a big year this year in the ACC.
Will Cummings (6’2″, 185 lbs, Senior, Temple)
Really liked what I saw from Cummings all camp. Solid lead guard who handles the ball well. Blended in to a degree in day 1 but knows how to play. Did a nice job of going downhill and attacking basket. His team won 5 on 5 more than anyone. Knows how to win and compete. Scoring the ball well today in the games at the rim.
Traevon Jackson (6’2″, 208 lbs, Senior, Wisconsin)
Solid shooting lefty performed well in both drills and the games. Has a pro ready body. Has a little bit of a tendency to drop dribble the ball but can really score.
Marcus Paige (6’1″, 170 lbs, Junior, UNC)
It was really tough to spot any major weaknesses these past 2 days in Paige. Looking really smooth in 1 on 1 drills on both sides of the ball. Solid ball handler with either hand. Deceptively quick. Really utilizes footwork to get space. One of the better shooters here.
Ron Baker (6’4″, 215 lbs, Senior, Wichita State)
Good size for position- above average physically then most others in camp. Looked solid in ball handling drills. Needs to improve quickness but can score with contact.
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (6’3″, 218 lbs, Junior, Georgetown)
Liked his approach to the game. Is a leader, has a great frame for position, and is tough. Team won share of 5 on 5.
Codi Miller-McIntyre (6’2″, 200 lbs, Junior, Wake Forest)
Tremendous build- going through ball handling drills quickly and with good accuracy. Dribbling the ball hard. Tough to guard in 1 on 1 drills- very explosive. Liked his competitive spirit. Solid defensively. Quick 1st step. Codi was very close to making my top 5 list- should be the man this year for Wake Forest.
Kevin Pangos (6’1″, 185 lbs, Junior, Gonzaga)
Bounced back after a disappointing day 1. Had a renewed confidence in day 2 where he scored the ball and was able to win his share of games. One of the best 3 pt shooters here- quick release. Lacks some of the physicals needed at the next level, but has underrated quickness and was able to score today in some unusual ways/moves.
Rod Hall (6’1″, 205 lbs, Senior, Clemson)
Very strong build- could easily be a running back. Trying to go right through people here at camp and many times was successful. One of the better slashers here, but needs to improve his shooting.
Kasey Hill (6’1″, 177 lbs, Sophomore, Florida)
Athleticism is effortless. Quick first step. His shooting stroke is simple and doesn’t require much effort or energy. Can get to the painted area with the best of them.
Keifer Sykes (6’0″, 170 lbs, Senior, Wis.- Greenbay)
One of the quickest and most athletic guards here. Big time scorer who scored over 20 ppg a game last season. Loved his professionalism and the way he carried himself. Euro- Step looks solid. Solid pull-up game. Plays with eyes up. Best defender in camp in my mind- holds his ground, moves his feet, and fought over ball screens. Solid ball handler w/ either hand.
Fred VanVleet (6’0″, 190 lbs, Junior, Wichita State)
Had a solid showing both days. Scored at will in 1 on 1 drills in day 1. Impressed me on the defensive end too- active hands. Really competed no matter who he matched up against.
Nigel Williams-Gross (6’3″, 190 lbs, Sophomore, Washington)
From the start of camp till the last drill I saw him compete in, Nigel was my favorite player in camp. Liked his communication and the way he competed through the drills- went through everything like he had something to prove- looked really good. Was only player communicating through the drills. Looked great in partner passing drills. Was a leader in drills even though he is one of the younger players here. Has an excellent floater where he showed touch around the basket. Coachable and consistent player. Is shifty and has excellent size for being a true PG. Defended the ball well. Needs to improve 3 pt shot, but has a solid midrange.
Treveon Graham (6’5″, 215 lbs, Senior, VCU)
Biggest guard at camp. Asked the coaches questions which I liked. Has a slow release but was the best shooter in day 2 after struggling day 1. Is not a PG, but could be a solid 2 at the next level. Played well in live games, competitions, etc- used his size/strength to score and was knocking down open shots.