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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Local Talent Lacking at Big Hoops Camps

Local talent lacking at big hoops camps

Jason Smith, Memphis Commercial Appeal
July 5, 2006

The way Sheffield High basketball star Randy Culpepper sees it, he'll have the upper hand going into this week's adidas Superstar Camp, which begins today in Suwanee, Ga. "I don't know anybody, and they don't know me," Culpepper said Tuesday. "It's an advantage for me because they'll probably think I can't play since I'm 5-11."

Unlike last summer, when the West Tennessee area sent five players to the adidas camp, four more to the Reebok ABCD Camp in Teaneck, N.J., and one to the Nike All-America Camp in Indianapolis, this year's camps, all going on this week, will for the most part be devoid of Memphis-area talent. There's no Thaddeus Young, the former Mitchell High star who last summer at the adidas camp was ranked among the top seven prospects in the nation by most.
There's no Willie Kemp or Pierre Niles or Wayne Chism.

No, it's Culpepper, a high-scoring shooting guard who quietly averaged a Shelby-Metro best 31.3 points per game as a junior last season, and Raleigh-Egypt point guard Maurice 'Moe' Miller who make up the short list of Memphis-area players participating in this week's camps, which typically draw the nation's top high-school talents.

Miller (6-1, 183), ranked the No. 22 point guard prospect nationally in the Class of 2007 by Rivals.com and the No. 137 prospect overall, is in Indianapolis this week for the Nike camp along with Raleigh-Egypt coach, Jimmy Adams, who's worked the Nike camp for the past 11 years.

"I just got back from the All-Asia Camp in Beijing, China, and had to turn around and come up here (to Indianapolis), so I hadn't had a chance to really work (Miller) and get him prepared like I wanted to," Adams said Tuesday.

"I think he needs to play against these players up here, the best of the best, and put himself up against that kind of competition and just let the chips fall where they may. You know, see where he stacks up."

Miller, who said Tuesday he has scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Clemson, Illinois, Georgia Tech, LSU, Ole Miss, Stanford, Tennessee, the University of Memphis and Vanderbilt, called his invitation to this week's Nike camp "the chance of a lifetime."

"Every young kid would wish to be here in this situation, so the main thing is to take advantage of it, get plenty of rest and eat right," Miller said. "You want to show everybody that you're here for a reason, and you're playing in front of every college coach in the nation.

"Not only will I get better, but I'll build relationships with people from around the world. ... It's an experience that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world."

Expected to join Miller this week at the Nike camp is 6-8, 233-pound small forward Herb Pope of Aliquippa, Pa.

Ranked the No. 3 small forward prospect in the Class of 2007 by Rivals.com and the No. 10 prospect overall, Pope is reportedly considering the UofM, along with Connecticut, Kansas State, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Louisville.

Chicago's Derrick Rose, a 6-4, 185-pound point guard ranked the No. 3 overall prospect nationally behind Cincinnati point guard O.J. Mayo and Cincinnati small forward Bill Walker, is also considering the Tigers, though it was unclear Tuesday whether Rose will attend the Nike camp or the ABCD camp in New Jersey.

Some speculate Rose will attend the ABCD camp to take on Mayo, a 6-4 point guard who is expected to announce his college decision this week.

Another Tiger target, Dallas power forward Anthony Randolph (6-10, 210), will attend the adidas camp.

Randolph, ranked the No. 2 power forward prospect nationally by Rivals.com and the No. 7 overall prospect, is reportedly considering Memphis, Baylor, Connecticut, Duke, Georgetown, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Texas and UCLA.

-- Jason Smith: 529-5804

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