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OLD GOLD FREE PRESS
Purdue Men's Basketball Recruiting

2002 Nike All-American camp


Day II Report


July 9, 2002
By: Bob Richards
© Old Gold Free Press

    More media flowing in now as day two kicks off. The schedule for today calls for mostly classroom work for the players, and a lot of downtime for the media. A total of fifty players were made available for interviews during lunch on Sunday. Another fifty will be made available during the dinner hour. Attending an interview session is not mandatory for the players.

    At the end of the day, a controlled scrimmage will present the first opportunities for most players to show what they have got. Practice sessions on Saturday were in a game format, but popular Nike rules such as the 4-pass rule were not enforced. Each team will play in one game on Sunday.

    *****

    Frankfort's Brandon Crone deserves special recognition. I've posed the following question to a handful of players at this year's camp, and so far Brandon was the only player to get the correct answer.

    There is one program within the Big Ten Conference that holds an all-time head-to-head winning record over every other Big Ten school. Can you name that program?


    Crone was the only player to answer Purdue. The most popular answer? Illinois, then Michigan, then Indiana. No other player even mentioned Purdue, even though the question was only given to midwestern players who would be the most familiar with Big Ten history.

    *****

    Let's talk a little about how kids get an invitation to the camp. In speaking with a Nike insider, a list of players is fomulated by Nike officals and Nike coaches, and invitations are extended to those players. Nike coaches, ranging from high schools to AAU to college, are also given spots they can fill with players they want to get to the camp.

    A list of alternates is also formed and, in the event of a cancelation, alternates are called to Indianapolis to fill out rosters. This year we hear that all alternates were eventually invited, including Bloomington's Grant Gibson who was on vacation in Phoenix when he got the call.

    *****

    In talking with a coach from Marian Academy in Toronto, a team that had at least two players at Nike that we know of, we discovered Purdue assistant Jay Price has been developing a relationship with the canadian program for several years.

    Marian Academy was the top-rated prep program last year in Canada, and boasts a team deep with talent and short on weaknesses. Marian has more spots to fill at Nike, but also had players trying out for the Canadian Junior National team the same week as the Nike Camp.

    I asked what the coach's impression of Jay Price as a recruiter. Price comes off as a solid recruiter good at selling the Purdue program. Definitely not aggressive as some other recuiters as far as getting in your space and throwing the hard sell, but rather a calmer encyclopedia of what the Purdue program stands for and how it can help a player achieve his goals. Jay was seen as very likable, a hard worker, and having an excellent nose for finding talent.

    Price was most recently in Toronto looking at 6'7 senior-to-be Patrick Tatham, touted as the third best junior player in southern Ontario, and Purdue has been involved with players in the recent past such as top 30 prospect Terry Licorish. Both players are involved in Grassroots Canada, a Nike sponsored program based in Toronto.

    *****

    I had a chance to speak with 2003 center Grant Billmeier of Pennington (NJ) about having Purdue on his list until very recently. Billmeier is now down to a fairly solid three of Pitt, Rutgers and Seton Hall. However, even with both available scholarships for the class of 2003 filled, Billmeier said Purdue made two calls to him at the beginning of the contact period which just began two weeks ago. He says he hasn't been home yet to return the calls, and didn't know what Purdue might have wanted.

    *****

    In watching Boiler commit Ije Nwankwo play on Sunday night, I can see why Purdue offered early for him. Although not entirely in the swing of the run and gun chaos of all-star basketball, he showed more endurance than you might expect from someone with such a large frame. Nwankwo was not officially measured by Nike because of his late arrival, but looks to be in the 6'6 range with about a 6'10 wingspan.

    Nwankwo got better as the game progressed. His first offensive attempt was whistled dead when Ije made too much use of his elbow to hook around a post player. The second attempt was slick curl move that drew a phantom whistle for traveling. His third attempt at a shot was stripped by a weakside forward on the baseline. A very quick spin got him around his defender in the low post, only to have the weakside defense waiting for him on the baseline.

    Nwankwo functioned as a power forward, yet had little help in the post. 6'7 Ndudi Ebi would collapse occassionally, but ran his game mostly from mid-range out to the perimeter leaving Ije with little post help. Plus I have to credit his opponents for some inspired boardwork. The opposing team had two 6'9 players and two 6'7 forwards. Their forwards crashed the boards very hard. You didn't see Ije blocking out much, as he was needed to go after the ball. Ije was fouled going for a rebound on his fourth attempt, and hit his only freethrow.

    The second period began with a big block from Ije, then shortly followed by a rebound and outlet to a streaking guard downcourt. Ije hit him in stride for the easy layup. Then Ije had a series of plays where he would post up, get the inlet pass, then whip the ball back out to the perimeter. He shows a nice eye for that kind of inside-outside game. He's not the kind of player that needed to be double-teamed at Nike, but I could see how he could get there by the end of his senior year in high school. If he starts to draw the double-team, lookout.

    The second half was much better than the first. A steal and solo break down the court for a layup was something not seen yet from him. The fact it came in the second half also pointed to his athleticism. He looks big, and IS big, but has good stamina. Ije also had a tip-in basket over a opposing post player.

    All in all a nice set of skills. He's strong at defending in the low post, but when he wasn't down low he tended to wander a bit on defense. It would have been interesting to see him play on a team with a good low post center. He has the ability to prevent opponents from backing him down in the post.

    *****

    If the staff is looking for a rebounder in the class of 2004, they need to send letters to Portland's (TN) Corey Brewer. He was the model rebounder from the small forward position against Ije's team, and really has a feel for where the ball if going to come off the rim. Brewer is 6'7, 165.

    Purdue target Kaylan Grimes, a 6'8 244-pound 2004 power player from Missouri, has lost weight since the last time I saw him. Grimes is a big-time player, now more mobile after dropping what looks to be about 25 pounds. And he got stronger in the process. Power with a good set of hands.

    I have no idea what the academic situation with 2003 guard Kamron Taylor might be. But if he by chance goes juco, the staff should camp out at his junior college and wait for him to come back out. Can't ever remember seeing this kid player anywhere, and got several "Who?" comments from other scouts when I asked about him. The kid has a mad handle on the ball, pushes the offense like a pro, and is one of the best last-second passers in traffic I've seen at the camp. Second only to maybe Shannon Brown.

    *****

    On a side note...Indianapolis guard Sonny Troutman has received his first offer, and it comes from Bruce Weber at Southern Illinois...Brian Randle suffered an ankle sprain and will likely be going home from camp soon. Indications are he is considering Indiana, Illinois and Notre Dame, and will take some officials before making a decision. The 4.0 student has an interest in the sciences, mentioning chemistry and engineering...I doubt very highly that the other Nwankwo at the camp, Davis Nwankwo, is any relation to Ije. No similarities in game, size or appearance...No coaches on Sunday, but plenty of NBA scouts on hand. Coaches come in numbers on Monday.


As news organizations move their stories to an archive, some of the links listed above may become inactive

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Jimmy_D - Gazing into the Crystal Bubble, Part III: SEC / Big Ten / PAC 10
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