June 30, 2006

Arizona Skill Camp has successful start

The 2006 Lute Olson Advanced Skill & Development Camp began on Thursday and if the first night was any indication, it should be a very successful event. There were a number of Arizona recruits on hand, as well as several future, current and ex-Wildcats.

Former UA players in attendance included Andre Iguodala, who played the most active role in camp out of all the ex-Wildcats, Damon Stoudamire, Salim Stoudamire, Jason Gardner, Tom Tolbert and Corey Williams.

The 2006-07 Wildcats on hand were Nic Wise and Jordan Hill, who both played in the camp, Ivan Radenovic, Marcus Williams and Mohamed Tangara.

Chase Budinger, Richard Jefferson and Luke Walton couldn't make Thursday's session due to a delayed flight. All three have safely arrived in Tucson along with trainer Trent Suzuki and will be around on Friday.

A speech from Tolbert kicked off the camp and the players then spent several minutes doing stretches. After that, they all ended up on one side of McKale Center to work on ball-handling drills.

At first each camper would dribble the ball down the court using different techniques taught by the UA coaches. Then they would go down the court while being defended.

It's safe to say that Laval Lucas-Perry and Luke Babbitt enjoyed this drill, as they were being guarded by Iguodala. Jamelle Horne and Zane Johnson practiced against each other.

After the ball-handing workout came passing drills. One camper stood in-between two others and tried to get the ball that was being kept away from him. It was tiring for whoever was in the middle because he would spend several minutes running back and forth. Babbitt, Johnson and Horne ran drill together, as did Wise, Iguodala and Elston Turner.

Next, Olson did some teaching and the players then split up into teams and started working on spacing in full-court drills. The kids would make several passes going down the court before finishing. It's a drill that Olson has done in his practices for years.

First they did this drill with only five on the court and then another five joined to make it a full practice situation. After making five passes dribbling down the court, whoever ended up with the ball had to go hard to the basket, which made it a pretty physical drill.

Wise, Hill and Horne were particularly impressive here. Wise does such a great job of handling the ball in the open court and always finds the open man down low. Hill was playing hard, finishing strong and had some nice moves in the post. Horne was the best recruit on the court during this drill and throughout the rest of them, for that matter.

The rest of the camp was scrimmage situations but campers would constantly be subbed in and out. Once they came out, the UA coaches spent a lot of one-on-one time with the kids, giving them advice.

Olson occasionally took timeouts to teach campers certain techniques and the UA coaches often went up and down the court, stopping players to help them out when they made a mistake.

After the practice session ended, the coaches left the court and Marcus Williams joined Iguodala, Horne, Jared Dudley from Boston College and several campers in pickup games.

Practice sessions begin at 9:30am on Friday morning. At 5:30pm, the campers, pros, ex-Wildcats and current players will participate in pickup games that are open to the public.

* GOAZCATS.com will continue its extensive coverage of the 2006 Advanced Skill & Development Camp throughout the duration of the event.

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