COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The foundation for USA Basketball’s frontcourt appears to be a pair of top-five big men from the Class of 2015. Through three-quarters of the USA Basketball Men's Developmental Minicamp, Diamond Stone (Milwaukee, Wisc./Dominican) and Ivan Rabb (Oakland, Calif./Bishop O’Dowd) have distinguished themselves as frontcourt leaders and guys the eventual squad may count on for production at both ends.
Frontcourt options plentiful with Raab and Stone
Raab is really hitting his stride at the power forward spot. His confidence level is bursting and he clearly sees himself as one of the best players here. The reality is, he’s right. However, he’s not resting on his laurels as his play in the paint has been spirited. He’s been the best rebounder in camp.
He's developed a friendly rivalry with Stone and the duo appears to be pushing each other. What would be good for USA Basketball would be to have them continue their play and step into the roles Jahlil Okafor and Dakari Johnson vacated after last summer. Stone’s the best finishing center at the camp and has the softest finishing touch. Whether he’s using his bulk or his finesse with a jump hook, Stone has the makings of a rock in the paint.
Replacing Tyus Jones won't be easy
The search for a successor to Tyus Jones is underway. USA Basketball needs a new point guard and for those in attendance this camp has turned into a proving ground of sorts. If the team was looking for one guard to advance his game on the final day, then they saw an impressive effort out of Derryck Thornton (Simi Valley, Calif./Sierra Canyon).
“I was nervous coming in,” Thornton said. “I was too passive. I have to be more verbal and play good defense.” Thornton distinguished himself as a passer, playmaker and reliable offensive player. He’s the type of lead guard who could be the squad's pied piper as others are likely to enjoy playing with him. There are times when he over dribbles, but this is a point guard who hasn’t played a high school game and is hoping to prove he belongs. Patience is the buzzword with all the floor generals in attendance. On Sunday, Thornton ramped up his play and made a statement.
When the light goes off …
Josh Jackson (Detroit, Mich./Consortium) didn’t fully believe he was a good player prior to camp. He knew he had talent and people told him he was good, but he didn’t truly begin believing it until Saturday night. A defensive sequence lit a fire under him and he’s been sensational ever since. Jackson’s responsible for the play of the camp when he hammered home a dunk then raced to the other end of the court to reject an easy bucket. His energy livened up the event.
Stephen Zimmerman (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman) had energy in the morning session. A face-up frontcourt player, if he rebounds with passion -- as he did today -- it takes his game up a notch.
Malik Monk (Lapento, Ark./East Poinsett) keeps growing on me. He’s one of the better shooters here and sports and added dose of athleticism uncommon to 2016 guards.