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June 15, 2011

NBPA event loaded with big men

RECENT EVENTS: USA U-16 | Nike Elite 100

One of the top events of the summer, the annual NBA Players Association Top 100 camp, tips off on Thursday at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The camp throws shoe allegiances out the window and brings together the top players regardless of whether they play for Nike, Adidas, Under Armour or another apparel company's teams. Dominated by rising seniors, the camp serves as an annual measuring stick.

Here are just a few of the questions we'll be searching for answers on this weekend.

1. What's the book on Kuran?

While the roster for the NBPA Camp is dominated by rising seniors, one of the players that we'll be watching the closest is rising junior Kuran Iverson. It's been since the end of last summer since we last saw the 6-foot-7 small forward from Connecticut and we are eager to track the development of the five-star prospect.

Last summer, Iverson impressed with his size, length, ability to handle the ball and make plays. Headed into the NBPA Camp, reports on Iverson's play during the winter and spring have been mixed to say the least. Is he still an elite prospect or do expectations need to be tempered? We should know by Sunday.

2. Can Price continue his tear?

Over the past month or two, few members of the 2012 class have been as hot as Jordan Price. Once considered one of the top prospects in his class, Price's development had stalled significantly for the last year or so until picking back up in late April.

Last weekend, the 6-foot-5 wing committed to Auburn so he no longer has to worry about his recruitment. A physical wing who gets to the free throw line, he's also been shooting the ball well and contributing on the glass while ringing up big numbers. Currently unranked, the three-star is well on his way to working his way back into the rankings and his performance at NBPA will go a long way toward determining just how highly he ascends.

3. How good is Biedscheid? When he committed to Notre Dame during the fall, it looked as if the Irish were getting a good one in Cameron Biedscheid. The 6-foot-6 wing from St. Louis has outstanding size, a crisp stroke, quickness and put together a huge junior season at Cardinal Ritter. However, the travel season hasn't gone as well for Biedscheid.

While he has had his moments this spring, his travel team - the St. Louis Eagles - have struggled mightily while Biedscheid has fought through injuries. Last weekend, Rivals.com had the opportunity to watch him go through a couple of individual workouts and he appears healthy and primed to show the recruiting world just how well he has developed his offensive arsenal.

4. Has Cleare improved?

Last summer, college coaches and evaluators fell in love with the player that Shaquille Cleare could one day be. A massive, 6-foot-9, 270-plus-pounder from Houston, Cleare displayed deft touch around the rim, good footwork and soft hands while bulldozing his way onto the recruiting map.

Playing with the Houston Defenders, Cleare has managed to elude Rivals.com for most of the spring and it's time to see how far he's come. One of the biggest questions needing answering is what kind of shape the big man is in. Has he dropped some of the baby fat? Is he more explosive? And most importantly, how is he doing now that his classmates have another year of physical development under their belts.

Likewise, the camp will also give us a good look at Philly area product Daniel Ochefu. Another big kid with bulk and skill, Ochefu has been largely absent on the spring circuit and doesn't compete in many grassroots event. Opinions on him from trusted sources in the Philadelphia area have run the gamut from calling him overrated as a five-star prospect to calling him a no-brainer as a McDonald's All-American talent.

5. Are the bigs in 2012 as good as we think?

For a few years now, two things have been consistent when discussing the class of 2012. The bigs have been praised for their skill and depth, while the point guards have been knocked for a lack of depth and elite prospects. We've seen enough of the point guards to feel confident that they are down in 2012, but are the big men as talented as we'd like to think?

One thing is for sure, we will get to see over the next three or four days. Save for the disappointment of two of the best big men skipping out on camp - Isaiah Austin because of a family vacation and Kaleb Tarczewski who is playing with his club team in Portland - the camp is loaded with top-ranked bigs. Each game should feature a war in the paint with at least 30 four- and five-star big man prospects in attendance.

An added bonus will be the chance to figure out how good the wildly talented, but inconsistent, 2013 power forward Chris Walker is.



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