Sunday, August 03, 2008

Elitists

Here's a whole bunch of notes and quotes from Day 1 of the Connecticut Elite Camp at Gampel Pavilion:

**Stanley Robinson was in the house, playing in a scrimmage with several top prospects, as well as Craig Austrie, Jonathan Mandledove and Donny Marshall. Robinson looked pretty good, considering he's hardly played at all this summer (he ran a little bit while a counselor at last month's Reebok Camp in Philly, where he roomed with incoming UConn 7-footer Charles Owkandu. "He's pretty good," said Stanley. "All he needs is his footwork, and I swear to God he'd be awesome.")

Anyway, what Robinson said after the scrimmage was even more interesting. As far as he knows, all he has to do is complete one online Sociology course this fall while living at his uncle's home in Vernon, and he'll be back with the Huskies in the winter.

"I don't want to jinx myself and say I'm coming back and then the class doesn't go well," Robinson said, "but I'm determined, because I have to be back in that uniform."

Calhoun has indicated that it may be a bit more complicated than that. Nevertheless, he's certainly leaving the door open for Robinson to prove himself and earn his way back on the team.

"Right now, he's in a pretty good place," the coach said.

Calhoun added that Robinson will soon begin a job as a sheet-metal worker. He also reiterated a point he made to me last week, saying that if Robinson makes his way back for the second semester, he should get enough financial aid to essentially be on full scholarship. Currently, the Huskies' allotment of 13 scholarships is used up.

It's still not abundantly clear what Robinson did to lose his spot on the team, though academics and tardiness to team functions and class are certainly two issues. Specifically, Robinson pointed to a "misunderstanding" he had with an English professor on when a certain paper was due.

"It's up to me, I can't point any fingers," he said of his current situation. "I did it, so it's up to me to get back in."

(Read more about Robinson in tomorrow's New Haven Register)

**Daniel Orton, a 6-foot-10 center out of Oklahoma City who checks in at about 260 pounds ("it depends on what day it is," he quipped) looked impressive.

Orton, the Class of 2009's No. 3-rated center according to scout.com, has narrowed his list of schools down to seven: UConn, UCLA, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Kentucky. A well-spoken, courteous young man, Orton said he won't make a decision until the spring signing period, and admits he's thinking of just one, maybe two years of school "but I look for a college where you can see yourself for four years because you never know what could happen. You could get hurt, you never know."

Orton was a teammate of incoming UConn freshman point guard Kemba Walker during one of the scrimmages. ("I wonder how that happened," quipped a member of UConn's staff).

Orton's father, Larry, played at Old Dominion in the mid-70s and is sort of a package deal with Daniel ("we'll move to wherever he goes," said pops). According to Larry, Daniel was a "short, chubby fat kid" who never really played basketball until the seventh grade.

"Then, all of a sudden, he grew 15 inches between (ages) 14 and 15," Larry said.

Orton was also a ballboy at Oklahoma State, where one of Larry Orton's other sons, Terrence Crawford, played on the Cowboys team that, along with UConn, advanced to the 2004 Final Four.

"I said (to Crawford), 'y'all might have beaten UConn,'" said Larry. "He said, 'no, we weren't going to beat those guys. There's no way we were going to beat those guys. That team was good.'"

**Dominic Cheek, a 6-5 shooting guard out of St. Anthony's High in New Jersey, recently played in the Under-18 FIBA Americas Tournament in Argentina with Walker.

"I love playing with Kemba," Cheek said. "When I first started playing with him, he got me the ball. He's a team player. He's like a brother to me now."

Cheek will likely make a list of 10 schools over the next week or so – a list that figures to include UConn as well as Tennessee, Wake Forest and Kansas.

**Patrick Young, a 6-10 Class of 2010 center, boasts a 4.0 GPA at his Jacksonville-area high school. Boasting a 7-3 wingspan, he seemed impressed while looking up at the numerous banners in Gampel's rafters.

"I'm liking UConn right now," he said, "all these championships, all the success they've had over the years here."

**UConn commits Alex Oriakhi and Jamaal Coombs-McDaniel weren't on hand because of travel problems out of Orlando with their BABC travel team. They're expected to be at the camp today, along with fellow BABC teammate Gerard Coleman.

**Brandon Knight, a top-rated point guard out of Fort Lauderdale, was also a no-show, due to his AAU team's busy recent schedule.

**Two intriguing prospects at camp hail from Canada: Kadeem Green, a Top 50 big man with a 7-4 wingspan, and Richard peters, who just turned 15 and will attend school down in Florida.

**A.J. Price looked sharp cutting and knocking down jump shots during drills on his own.

**Craig Austrie looks cut, with significantly wider shoulders and a much slimmer waistline. He also showed off a 32-inch vertical leap (all players' verticals were measured by UConn staff).

**Rudy Gay is expected to be at today's camp session.

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