CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — Coming off the heels where guard played was highlighted and rewarded with a NBA Championship, it comes as no surprise here at the NBA Top 100 camp that guards were the storyline on opening day.
THREE BEST PLAYERS I SAW ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT WERE…
Markelle Futlz (2016/DeMatha MD/DC Blue Devils) was fantastic on Wednesday night. The DeMatha guard was involved in nearly every play when he was on the court. He scored off the bounce, with a straight line drive, crafty around the rim and hit a three. He was the best rebounding guard in the building, too. Defensively, Fultz disrupted the opposition with physical play in the backcourt. There were stretches where he was the best guard on the floor in a game with terrific guards, too.
Travon Duval (2017/St. Benedict’s NJ/WE R1) is pure entertainment. He was the best point guard I saw in the spring on the shoe circuit and stepped right into this camp with the same kind of moxie and confidence that he motored himself through the Under Armour schedule. Duval mixed speed with smarts, decision-making and dribbling to keep defenders on their heels. There’s not a lot of force to his game. He’s systematic and smart, limits his mistakes and does the right things at the right moments. The bar for point guards was set on Wednesday night and Duval put it very high for the rest of the pack to catch up to.
Shamorie Ponds (2016/Thomas Jefferson NY/New York Lightning) is as tough of a customer as it gets.The 5-foot-11 guard braved his way into the land of the trees and scored time and time against in the paint. He was a master of getting to the foul line and converted on a couple of three-pointers in the process. Ponds scored 18 points in a one-point, competitive win. Even as one of the smallest guys on the floor, he led his team in rebounding, too. Ponds game is very New York. Guys like Kemba Walker, Russ Smith, Truck Bryant and other Big Apple floor generals would approve of his style on the hardwood.
NOTES FROM THE NOTEPAD
Jehtro Tshishumpa was the best shot-blocker on Wednesday. The 6-foot-10 center thwarted away a half-dozen attempts and helped a number of other players re-route their paths to the rim.
Huge Texan five-man Schnider Herard was one of the best big men in the two games I saw on Wednesday night. He scored 11 points against Abdul Aod and Brandon McKoy - two of the best big men in camp. Herard also grabbed five rebounds.
Syracuse commitment Matthew Moyer was one of the most productive players on Wednesday, scoring 17 points and grabbing five rebounds. Moyer was incredibly active and dialed in from tip to finish.
Curtis Jones got hot from three and was terrific on the wing. The 6-foot-3 guard hit three triples, more than anyone did on the courts I watched Wednesday night.
Kyle Guy was playing on his future home court and didn’t skip a beat. The Indiana native jumped right into the action and went to work.
Arizona guard Alex Barcello is a fantastic passer, handing out five assists in the night cap.
South Carolina native De’Riante Jenkins was a master slasher, going for 13 points
Mississippi forward Mario Kegler shot a perfect 5 for 5 from the floor, scoring 11 points.