NBA Draft Camp | The next generation of local hoops stars
The four young men here with Seattle ties are a testament to Friends of Hoop and Rotary Select, the dominant AAU boys basketball teams in...
Seattle Times staff reporter
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The four young men here with Seattle ties are a testament to Friends of Hoop and Rotary Select, the dominant AAU boys basketball teams in the Northwest.
They're by-products of "Rip the Cut," "Emerald City" and "Battle of the Lake," Seattle's preeminent summer-league basketball tournaments. And they're the next generation in a long lineage that includes Clint Richardson, James Edwards, Doug Christie and Michael Dickerson.
"What can I say?" said Eastern Washington guard Rodney Stuckey, a graduate of Kentwood High. "The legend continues."
The legacy of Seattle-area players making the jump to the NBA lives inside of him. It also lives in Spencer Hawes (Seattle Prep, Washington), Aaron Brooks (Franklin, Oregon) and Marcelus Kemp (Garfield, Nevada), who each participated Friday on the final day of the league's predraft camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.
Those four — along with Arizona guard Marcus Williams, a former Roosevelt High standout who skipped camp — could be selected in the June 28 draft. If they're all chosen, it would be the most local players taken in the same year.
In 2005, Marvin Williams (second), Martell Webster (sixth) and Nate Robinson (21st) were selected in the first round. Before then, there had been just two drafts — 2002 and 1985 — when two local players were chosen in the first round in the same year.
"This has been going on for awhile now, and we're just finally starting to get noticed," Hawes said. "The talent has been there, but we don't get the exposure because we're so far away from everyone else."
Somewhere in the stands at the Milk House gym, Denver Nuggets coach George Karl — who was instrumental in the Seattle hoops revival — must have been admiring his handiwork.
"He always talks about giving back to the game," said Karl's son Coby, a 6-foot-4 guard from Boise State who attended the camp. "He's been given the life that he has because of basketball, and he loves to give back to it and do as much as he can to help young kids or young coaches."
During his tenure as Sonics coach, George Karl began Friends of Hoop as a non-profit organization and started the King Holiday Hoopfest, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.
"I remember when I was in the fifth or sixth grade when the first team started and Jamal [Crawford] was on the younger team and Teyo Johnson was on that team," said Coby Karl. "I looked up to those guys. We all did. We saw what they did, and we just wanted to keep it going."
As good as Hawes, Stuckey, Williams, Brooks and Kemp have been in college, their draft prospects are varied.
Stuckey appears to be a first-round lock. He became the first Big Sky Conference freshman ever to win league MVP honors, and last season the 6-5 guard ranked seventh in the nation with a 24.6 scoring average.
"I just knew that I did all that I could do at Eastern," said Stuckey. "For me, regardless of when I come out, I've got to prove that playing at a small school won't hold me back. That's my biggest challenge."
The 7-foot Hawes is the most skilled among the group. But he still has option of returning to the Huskies for his sophomore season because, unlike Stuckey, he has not signed with an agent. More than likely, Hawes will remain in the draft once he receives a guarantee that he'll be chosen among the top 14 teams.
There's no turning back for Williams, a 6-7 sophomore forward, who signed with agent Rob Pelinka. Many draft pundits believe Williams skipped the camp because he received assurance from a team late in the first round that he wouldn't fall into the second round.
Brooks, a 6-foot guard, needed to a strong performance this week to counter a disappointing tenure at Oregon that promised more than it delivered. He left high school as a McDonald's All-American, but a wrist injury as a freshman and suspensions marred a rocky four-year career.
"I know people probably expected more out of me at Oregon, and that's cool because I expected more out of myself," said Brooks. "Scouts here are probably looking at me and saying why did I stay four years in school and wondering if I can play the point. I hope I answered some of those questions."
Brooks wasn't the best point guard at the camp, but he displayed the ability to defend, run an offense and will likely be chosen in the mid-to-late second round.
If the prognosis is the same for Kemp, a 6-5 guard, he won't return for his senior season at Nevada. He is being advised to turn pro because he turns 24 next year, which is old for a rookie.
Kemp, who had a solid but unspectacular camp, sat out two seasons because of foot and knee injuries. The NCAA awarded him a sixth year of eligibility, but five years in school appears to be enough.
"Seattle has a rich tradition of guys who have made it to the pros," he said. "I just want to be a part of that."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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