Top 10 2004 ABCD Camp Moments
ABCD is a camp that is made for match-ups.
Obviously it wasn't coincidental that the most anticipated head-to-head encounter of the camp was set to take place in the final set of games on Saturday night, where there also just happened to be three games going on instead of the usual four. This was all done to attract as many as possible to witness two of the top players at camp.
Once you break it down like that, you notice that it all comes back to that simple formula that the entire week is based around.
The idea behind ABCD is to get as many of the top 200 players in the country as possible to come to Fairleigh Dickinson University in Hackensack, NJ.
Things seemed as if they were going to be a little more difficult this year when it came to this. Nike was running their usual All-American camp, but now so was Adidas the same week. Three camps of the same magnitude running during the same time span was never the case until this year when Sonny Vaccaro took his now 21 year-old camp name with him to Reebok after leaving the brand with the three stripes.
However, the ABCD name and Vacarro's longevity ultimately reigned supreme over the power of the footwear heads.
Most of the top names from the classes of 2005 to 2007 were at ABCD again this year. As usual, players from the levels ahead of the blue chips also showed up. Baron Davis, Antoine Walker, Charlie Villanueva, Allen Ray, Jason Frasor and Anthony Roberson all came through at one point or another during the week.
It's the alumni, the reversible jerseys numbered in the hundreds and the four courts running that bring the essence to ABCD and have made it the cultural aspect of the game of basketball that it now is.
And most importantly, it's the moments that come out of it.
As was said, there are four courts that the pool play games take place on. It's not always easy to catch everything going on, but from what I did see, these are the top 10 moments from this year's chapter in summer basketball history. Let the countdown begin…..
#10. Late and Early, but Memorable Enough
In the first set of games that opened pool play on Wednesday, man-child Derrick Caracter's Warriors team went up against a less than star-filled Rockets contingent.
Naturally, my eyes were on Caracter. So was class of 2007 Eric Wallace's.
In the early going, Wallace caught a pass in the paint and went up for a two-handed slam that saw Caracter come a second to late from the weak side and wind up getting a face-full of the youngblood hanging from the rim.
Not many people were out to see this one, as it was buried on the furthest court from the entrance and play had just tipped off.
Caracter did let out a laugh as if to say, "You got me," and the two then went at it for a couple of solid possessions.
#9. "Sky" Walker
I didn't see much during the week of Bill "Sky" Walker, as he came to be known by the Underclassmen All Star game's end.
He was teamed up in pool play with high school teammate OJ Mayo and Andray Blatche, originally thought to be a deadly combination but turned out to be a lack of co-existence by the two NBA prospects.
When I did watch Walker's Magic team play, he never really stood out.
But in the All Star game, he was one of the most exciting players on the court with the five or so dunks he put down.
Him and Mayo as teammates for however long they are together in high school, depending on if Mayo gets lured out after his junior year, poses trouble for the state of Ohio and whoever else decides to challenge these two rising stars.
#8. Laker-esque but not resembling his brother
He's not like his three-point efficient brother, Kareem. Brandon Rush is a dunker, straight up.
He had what were two of the top five dunks of the week with the two-handed reverse off the lob he caught while trailing on a break away in the All Star game and the one-handed slam that resembled Grant Hill's Final Four Jam.
On Saturday though, Rush had two reverse lay-ups off botched alley-oops that he managed to turn into buckets and quite possibly as nice as any of his dunks this week.
His ability to adjust in the air Kobe-like and finish like it was nothing is what makes him arguably the most exciting finisher above the rim in the Class of 2005.
#7. Rob Thomas Delivers
Rob Thomas may not play in New York City during the school year anymore, but going to St. Thomas More Prep to get his mind right and further his game hasn't kept his name out of the Big Apple.
Thomas is a pure scorer who had a big June with the NYC Panthers AAU squad and is doing work as a rookie in the Rucker league this summer.
His Friday night game at ABCD verses Rush and fellow NYC scorer Ricky Torres was the game for him to establish himself as a peaking player on the national level, and he came with it.
Thomas was his usual emotional self on the court, screaming after baskets and getting in the ear of his match-up when on the defensive end.
At some points it was Rush, and at some points, Rush couldn't help but laugh at Thomas' wild nature.
But Thomas was laughing in the end with 21 points and 6 rebounds in this game. His Celtics team also wound up going undefeated, 6-0.
#6. Celtics vs. Bulls
It wasn't Larry versus Michael, it was exactly how it reads. The Celtics versus the Bulls.
A total team effort was shown as Danny Green, the Celtics' point man with the highest player-rating in the camp, and the sound group around him that included New Yorkers Thomas, John Garcia and Kyle McAlarney, jumped out to a 20-0 run midway through the first half.
Green had a team-high 26 points and 10 assists, Thomas went for another 21-point outing, Austin Jackson and McAlarney each had 10, Michael Boyd and John Garcia both scored eight and Corey Stokes and William Graves IV contributed seven apiece.
The whole Celtics bench was up after each basket and coaches Evan Pickman and Eddie Gonzalez were more than instrumental in getting a group of guys to play as a team at a typically "get yours first" camp.
#5. When the Antoine-shake almost came out
With the Senior All Star game dragging in the second half, Antoine Walker got out of his seat on the baseline and tried his best to orchestrate something that would liven the game up.
Had it not been for the help of Walker, Jeremy Pargo and Byron Eaton's second half battle may not have went on as long as it did and the All Star game could have taken a deep sea dive with no scuba gear on. In other words, it probably wouldn't have come back.
The actual battle was great, but it was the fact that the point guards succeeded in the uneasy task of bringing the crowd back into it that gets them into the No. 5 spot.
#4. The Memory Remains
It was court three on Friday night. I was watching Eric Devendorf and Lance Thomas go up against Mayo and Blatche on court two, until I looked over at court two to see what was going on.
Out of nowhere I see Kiwan Smith take off and absolutely derail one of the Cavs in mid-air for what had whoever was watching let out the "Oh No," that rang throughout the gym.
You'll have to find out somewhere else who it was that got bodied by Smith because I don't have the heart to do it to the kid.
Ironic enough is that the two kids who seemingly may have "blown up" somewhat were actually from the same team, as you'll see with…..
#3. Saturday Night Live
Gerald Green had been doing it all week, and this is where everyone finally got to see that the camp's leading scorer was for real.
On court three before the Caracter-Oden game, Green was matched-up against Tasmin Mitchell, arguably the top guy in the 2005 class.
Tasmin wasn't on the court for Green's explosion, but that didn't matter.
He took off for six straight dunks in about a two-minute span that left coaches admittedly regretting the day they let Eddie Sutton and Oklahoma State get a hold of him early.
If Green has a JR Smith type performance in the All-American games next Spring, then he could easily be lined up by pro scouts that have hopes he follows in the footsteps of his twin brothers in style Tracy McGrady and Dorell Wright.
#2. "It's My Time Now!"
The flare in OJ Mayo's game and the emotion that nobody saw from him until the Underclassmen All Star game will forever be remembered as one of the top moments at ABCD 2004.
Mayo's decision to run out the clock with a dribble-showcase in the Underclassmen All-Star game made for a tough decision against the No. 1 moment.
However, the slow motion cross over and 10 seconds of working out whoever the defender was at the top of the key certainly put a cap on an eye-opening week by the next big star to have graced ABCD.
#1. Let me get a No.1, supersized
The best thing about this was that it lived up to the expectations.
The introduction cards had already been written for the ring announcer.
On Saturday Night, 6'9, 282 pound Derrick Caracter, the former class of 2006 consensus No. 1 player among the major ranking services, faced off against the kid who took his spot on top, 7'0, 240 lb. Greg Oden.
"I just got out of the way and tried to get some rebounds," said Will Harris, Caracter's teammate on the Warriors. "That was fun to watch."
Caracter struck first with a hoop and some harm that he drew against Oden on the interior. The crowd erupted as Caracter hit the floor and Curtis Kelly helped him up with a big smile on his face, encouraging the big fella and embracing what everyone was witnessing.
Kelly and Taylor King took some of the spotlight to their match-up early on. King hit a three over Kelly, who contested the shot. Kelly wasn't going to back down in a big game like this and felt the need to come back and answer. Unfortunately for Kelly, his mid-range pull-up on the following possession was sent into the backcourt by Oden.
Caracter would bail Kelly out, though, as he took a pass on the wing out of the re-set and stuck his first of three trifectas of the game. Oden was defending him here as well, but Caracter's uncanny ballhandling for a guy his size forced the slower Oden to stay home and get a jump even too late for his wingspan to alter.
Despite Caracter's early success against his counterpart, Oden's team managed to pull ahead by eight, 40-32, behind the play of King and Underclassmen All Star Game MVP Daequan Cook.
Kelly and Chris Lowe pulled the Warriors back in it before the half, and carried their momentum over into two more quarters of Caracter-Oden.
In the second half, Oden began by scoring an off balance one handed leaner in the paint with Caracter bodying him. After managing just two dunks in the first half, this looked to be a good start for Oden. But it was actually the last of his surprising finish of six points as Caracter went back to work by spinning off Oden in the post for another and-one call and sinking a jumper the next time down.
The crowd was as hot now as they were in the opening moments of the match-up.
Kelly put one home in the open floor to put the Warriors up 11 and handed Oden's Jazz their first loss of the week.
Chalk up the L for the Jazz as being due in large part to Caracter's gutty performance of 19 points and drawing three of the five fouls that Oden was charged with.
The two were supposed to hook up once again in the Underclassmen All Star game. Both were slated to square off on each other's squads of five that substituted every five minutes. Oden came down with an ankle injury Sunday morning, though, which only added to the significance of the Saturday match-up that will live in as the lasting memory from ABCD 2004.
Patrick Stevens is a senior journalism major at the University of
Rhode Island and a frequent contributor to InsideHoops.com.