Friday, August 01, 2008

Marcus Williams impressed with Kemba Walker

The Point Guard of UConn's Past was a teammate of the Point Guard of UConn's Future for a two-game tournament this summer, and the former was very impressed with the latter.

Marcus Williams played on the same team with Kemba Walker in a pre-summer league tournament called The Fireball Classic at Baruch College in Manhattan in early June. Williams and fellow NBA-er Smush Parker were the starting guards, but Walker (apparently nicknamed "E-Z Pass") came off the bench and impressed Willliams.

"That kid is good," Williams said. "He's as talented as they come. He does everything well on the offensive end, he's patient, he can score, he can break a defense down, set guys up. And not only that but he plays great pressure defense. If given the opportunity, he may be able to start."

Williams chuckled when asked what advice he gave Walker as he prepares to embark upon his freshman season at UConn.

"I told him the main thing to be worried about is the way Coach Calhoun is. He might say some of the meanest things you'll hear, but he doesn't mean it in that way. He's a winner, so he's going to express it, but don't take it the way he's saying it, take the positives out of it."

Williams doesn't think that will be a problem with Walker.

"He listens to coaches in games and tries to apply it. He's definitely a good learner. He's so calm and mellow, that's what I like about hitm. He doesn't let things rattle him."

"That's great for a point gaurd," Williams added. "Especially for Coach Calhoun."

Incidentally, the Williams-Walker team lost in the tourney finals. Williams, recently traded from New Jersey to Golden State, will be playing in Calhoun's All-Star Charity Classic at Mohegan Sun on Aug. 9.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cheek in, Hamilton out of Elite Camp

It looks like Dominic Cheek, the 6-foot-5 guard out of St. Anthony's High in New Jersey who is's No. 3-rated shooting guard in the Class of 2009, will be attending Jim Calhoun's elite camp on Sunday and Monday. Cheek recently teamed with UConn's incoming freshman point guard Kemba Walker on the U.S. U-18 team in the FIBA Americas Tournament in Argentina, and the two developed a good rapport.

It also appears, howsever, that Jordan Hamilton, the 6-7 forward out of Compton, Calif., will not be attending the camp. He may be at Storrs on an unofficial visit on Aug. 24, however.

Getting players to the camp is a fluid process. The UConn coaching staff is still making calls and trying to confirm flight information for numerous players. Last year, several players pulled out at the last minute, but several others committed at the last minute.

Some of the definites appear to be UConn commits Alex Oriakhi and Jamaal Coombs, as well as their Tilton (N.H.) School teammate, Gerard Coleman (a 6-3 guard) and Phil Pressey, a 5-8 point guard out of Cushing Acadmey in Massachusetts who's the son of ex-Milwaukee Buck Paul Pressey.

Also expected to attend is Durand Scott, a 6-5 combo guard out of Rice High in the Bronx (which also produced Walker and recent UConn transfer Curtis Kelly). And Andre Drummond, a 6-9 sophomore from Middletown who attends Hartford's Capital Prep, should also be in attendance.

Finally, there's Rico Pickett, a 6-3 point who transferred out of Alabama and was one fo the top-ranked JUCO players down at Miami-Dade.

That's what we've got for now. Of course, a lot of that could change between now and Sunday ...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Chat with the Coach

Spoke with Jim Calhoun earlier today for a story that will run in tomorrow's New Haven Register. Here's some of the things the coach had to say:

**Just completed his 24th radiation treatment with nine more to go, the final one set for Aug. 8. He's feeling a bit fatigued, but more distressingly, he has lost his sense of taste, the ability to salivate, occasionally even the ability to swallow, due to the radiation on his neck and throat. Once the treatments end, he's told he should actually expect to feel even worse for a period of 1-3 weeks before finally turning the corner.

**Will be present at his elite camp at Gampel this Sunday and Monday, though perhaps not as visible as last year (i.e., no two-hour speeches, for obvious reasons).

**On Kemba Walker: "I love him. One of the strange things of recruiting ... I saw him as a sophomore and kind of liked him. He was on the same team as (Edgar) Sosa, and we were looking at Sosa and Curtis (Kelly). The same way he attacks the SAT, he attacks his jump shot and his game. He's been tutored for the SAT about 20 different times and he's had a dramatic rise in his scores. Basketrball-wise, (FIBA Americas Under-18 coach Bob McKillop) said he was the only true warrior they had. He's quiet, but so tough, like Rickey Moore was."

**On whether A.J. Price and Walker will share floor together at times next season: "A.J. is my point guard, without question, but because maybe of some physical problems, and because of Kemba, he's got the same amount of work as anybody else. But the good thing is, they can all play togather. We can play Craig (Austrie) at the 1 or 2, A.J. at the 1, maybe the 2, Kemba probaly is a 1, Nate (Miles) is a 1, 2 or 3. Hasheem (Thabeet) thinks Nate is our best passer."

**Stanley Robinson is currently taking a class at a nearby community college. He'll take two more community college courses over the fall, while also working full-time, and if all goes well, would be welcomed back at UConn for the second semester. Robinson would have to pay his own way, but as a full-qualifier, he would get nearly a full ride.

**Andrew Bynum had asked to play in Calhoun's charity all-star game on Aug. 8 at Mohegan Sun, and Calhoun originally thought he'd let him play. But he eventually thought better: "We decided just not to do it. I appreciated (Bynum's interest), but it ended up not being the best thing to do. It's been a UConn thing. We're very fortunate to get enough UConn players. The bottom line is, the more I thought about it, we've got plenty of UConn players."

Elite Players to Attend Calhoun's Camp

Jim Calhoun's second annual elite basketball camp will run at Gampel Pavilion this Sunday and Monday, Aug. 3-4. Here's a partial list of some of the top-notch recruits expected to attend:

Class of 2009
Alex Oriakhi, 6-8, 225, PF, Tilton (N.H.) School. Committed to UConn following sophomore year. Has really blown up this summer, with strong performance at the LeBron James Skills Academy.

Jamaal Coombs, 6-6, SF, Tilton (N.H.) School. Also committed to UConn following sophomore year and a teammate of Oriakhi's at Tilton.

Daniel Orton, 6-9, 260, C, Bishop McGuinness High, Oklahoma City. Top-notch defensive center who has been offered by Kansas, Ohio State and Oklahoma.

Gerard Coleman, 6-3, 165, SG, Tilton (N.H.) School. Teammate of Oriakhi and Coombs at Tilton, has expressed interest in NC State.

Patrick Young, 6-9, C, Jacksonville, Fla. Top recruit and great student, boasting ab 4.0 GPA.

Class of 2010

Phil Pressey, 5-8, 140, PG, Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, MA. Son of former Milwaukee Buck Paul Pressey, has been offered by Georgia, Maryland and Missouri.

Brandon Knight, 6-3, 175, PG/SG, Pine Crest School, Fort Lauderdale. Top-ranked point guard in class, per Made unofficial visit to UConn in January, and is coached at Pine Crest by New Haven native David Beckerman.

It's also possible that Jordan Hamilton, the 6-7, 210-pound forward out of Compton, CA who is's No. 2-rated small forward for the Class of 2009, could attend. If not, he may make an unofficial visit to Storrs on Aug. 24.