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June 12, 2013
Thursday morning, the annual NBPA Top 100 Camp kicks off on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. A can't-miss stop on the grassroots circuit, the Top 100 Camp is built on the idea of getting the best 100 players, regardless of shoe affiliation of their summer or high school team. This year, USA Basketball's 16-and-under team and Adidas Nations in Las Vegas have prevented some players from attending, but the lineup is still stout with some 80 four- and five-star prospects.
Here's a look at the some of the players and story lines that we'll be watching between Thursday and Saturday.
Towns in the house
The 6-foot-11 big man from Metuchen (N.J.) St. Joseph's did play in the Hoop Summit back in April but has otherwise been absent from the grassroots circuit.
Already a five-star prospect who has a high level of skill and impressive shooting range for his size, this will be one of the first opportunities for most of the scouting community to see Towns against other high-level players.
Is Towns ranked too low? That's an answer we hope to have by the end of the weekend.
Important days ahead
Because he already committed to Louisville, Shaqquan Aaron doesn't have any worries when it comes to impressing college coaches and he can play stress free. At the same time, we aren't sure that we saw what the 6-foot-8 Californian, who attends Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach, was capable of in the spring. Playing on Nike's EYBL circuit with Seattle-based Rotary Select, Aaron showed glimpses of his ability to shoot from deep and put the ball on the floor. However, he also struggled to shoot with consistency and didn't provide the type of impact on the glass that you would expect out of a kid his size and a No. 31-ranking.
The class of 2014 is loaded with jumbo-sized wings and Aaron will be tested on a game-by-game basis. Was the future Cardinal's "slump" in the spring a sign of potential problems down the road or will he be back on top of his game in Charlottesville?
Another who struggled some when we watched during the spring was five-star combo forward LeRon Black. The 6-foot-7 product of Memphis (Tenn.) White Station had flashes and looks like he has improved the consistency of his mid-range jumper, but he wasn't his usual self.
In Black's defense, he was injured most of the spring and we are curious to see how much it impaired his play. The hope is that he is fully healthy and well-rested so that he's able to give an effort that is 100 percent representative of his capabilities.
Another hidden gem
Over the past few years, the Michigan staff has earned a reputation for its ability to spot "hidden" talent and then develop it once a player reaches campus. Is Doyle the next in this line?
A 6-foot-8 power forward, Doyle is said to have a high skill level and to be a crafty scorer and good rebounder. He'll be thrown right into the fire at NBPA and we'll soon have a better idea of where he fits into the national picture.
How high can they go?
During the spring, three players in the class of 2014 have separated themselves in terms of needing big boosts to their national ranking. Actually, shooting guard Brandone Francis isn't even ranked yet while big man Myles Turner and wing Devin Robinson check in at Nos. 78 and 106, respectively.
A 6-foot-5 shooting guard out of Jacksonville (Fla.) Arlington Country Day, Francis has impressed with his overall size, skill and ability to play on or off the ball. He's already done enough to warrant an entrance in the rankings at the high four-star level but a strong outing in Charlottesville could really help his case for five-star status.
After writing during the winter that Turner would see his stock rise during the spring, we were entirely too conservative with the 6-foot-11 center from Euless (Texas) Trinity when we reshuffled the 2014 Rivals150 in March. Not that being ranked No. 78 is anything to sneeze at, but it's too low -- way too low -- for Turner. Turner is poised to climb into at least the national top 25, but hasn't gotten tested by too many high-level big men. How he handles that this week could make a big difference in how far he climbs.
Finally, Robinson might be more under-ranked than Turner. A long and athletic 6-foot-8 small forward from Christchurch (Va.), Robinson was a revelation at the Hoop Group's Southern Jamfest in May. At the Jamfest, Robinson looked like a potential top-20 type because of his size, length, deep shooting range, athleticism and ability to create for himself and others off the dribble. Was he a one-weekend wonder at the Jamfest, or the real deal and deserving of five-star status?