Melo making his mark in Virginia

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Day 1 of the 2009 NBPA Top 100 Camp featured games full of talent and intensity as highly ranked players clashed. The inside players were impressive on Thursday, the event's first full day of action. Some of the top, rising-senior big men included Florida commit Patric Young (Jacksonville, Fla./Paxon School), 7-footer Fabricio Melo (Weston, Fla./Sagemont), versatile athlete Tarik Black (Memphis, Tenn./Ridgeway) and 2011 prospect Rakeem Christmas (Philadelphia/Northeast Catholic). The players in that group displayed power, skill and athletic ability, and had a number of dominate possessions in their respective games.

Standout player

Fab Melo (7-0, 265, C)
2010, Weston, Fla., Sagemont

Melo is impressive with his energy and passionate play. He rebounds on both ends, runs the floor on a consistent basis and seldom takes a play off. He has great feet, hands and touch around the basket. He can score on jump hooks with either hand, and he uses his big body to shield off defenders. Melo can also face up and attack the rim with one or two power dribbles, and he showed the ability to knock down the open 20-foot jumper with time and space. This big man plays to exhaustion, and is a load to handle.

Surprise player

Tarik Black (6-8, 225, PF/C
2010, Memphis, Tenn./Ridgeway

This long, athletic post played aggressively, and was extremely productive during the evening session. Black is an above the rim finisher in transition, running the floor with long strides. He rebounds at rim level on the defensive end, and crashes the offensive glass, looking for easy baskets. He is raw, skills-wise, but finishes around the basket with ease over and around defenders. Black is a terrific defender, mainly because of his effort. He closes on the ball quickly to contest and block shots. He has great feet and hands with off-the-charts upside.

Junior achiever (top 2011 prospect)

Rakeem Christmas (6-9, 230, C/PF)
2011, Philadelphia/Northeast Catholic

Christmas plays with great confidence and urgency. He runs the floor well, and scores in the half court with his jump hook and turn shot over his left shoulder. He has the ability to face up and attack the rim with one or two quick dribbles. Christmas also shows an impressive up and under move. He finishes above the rim in traffic, and wants the ball late in the game. He uses his great length to contest, block and change shots, and hits the glass on both ends. He plays with toughness, and competes the entire time he is on the floor. Christmas is a combination of size and talent, which equals a bright future with continued improvement.

On the defensive

Patric Young (6-8, 220, PF/C)
2010, Jacksonville, Fla./Paxon School, Committed to Florida

Young is a strong and physical post defender who is difficult to score on. He does a great job defending the gaps so the offensive player can't spin off of him, and he uses his strength well to hold his spot and not give up deep, low post position. Young is an explosive shot-blocker as well. He has great timing, and uses his athletic ability to block and change shots on the ball, or comes to the rescue from the weakside. As he continues to learn how to play team defense, he will be great at helping on screens, and will be able to defend both post positions.

Coming attraction

Noah Cottrill (6-3, 195, PG)
2010, Beckley, W. Va./Mountain State Academy, Committed to West Virginia

Cottrill is going to keep Mountaineer fans on the edge of their seats. This lead guard is confident, skilled and plays with swagger. He can hit 3-pointers off the catch or dribble, get to the rim with deceptive speed and quickness and can pass with either hand at high speeds or in the half-court set, in which he does a good job looking to feed the post. He gets loose with the ball from time to time, but he is a perfect fit for the Mountaineer motion-style offense. His presence will provide Bob Huggins with a tough guard who competes the entire time he is on the floor.

Play of the day

Andre Dawkins (Chesapeake, Va./Atlantic Shores) is best known for his deep shooting range, but he can provide highlights in transition with his off-the-chart hops. In the morning session, Dawkins, a shooting guard, woke up the crowd with a windmill dunk in transition over two defenders. The 2-foot, vertical slam made the Duke commit the talk of the gym.


• A couple Wake Forest commits were very impressive on Thursday. Travis Mckie (Richmond, Va./John Marshall), a 6-7 forward, attacked the rim, rebounded on both ends and knocked down his open shots. Six-foot-3-inch shooting guard J.T. Terrell (Burlington, NC./Cummings) attacked in transition, and showed his mid-range game and deep ball. He was one of the better pure scorers on the floor.

• The Atlantic 10 was represented well on Day 1. Xavier commit Jordon Latham (Baltimore/City College), a 6-8 forward, rebounded and scored on a number of face-up drives. Not to be outdone, Dayton commit Juwan Staten (Dayton, Ohio/Oak Hill Academy (Va.)) showed he has ability as a scoring point guard. He got to the rim in transition, turned the corner on ball screens and hit open jumpers.

• Class of 2011 prospect Mike Gilchrist (Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick), at times, can dominate the game without scoring. He is a terrific multiple position defender. He blocks shots, and keeps big name scorers out of the lane. He rebounds on both ends with regularity, and handles the ball well, showing the ability to drive, draw and kick to open teammates. Gilchrist simply competes in every phase of the game.

• 2010 point guard prospects Brandon Knight (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Pine Crest), Joe Jackson (Memphis, Tenn./White Station), Markel Starks (North Bethesda, Md./Georgetown Prep, Committed to Georgetown) and Gary Franklin (Santa Anna, Calif., Mater Dei, Committed to USC) were also impressive Thursday. Knight attacked the rim, and hit mid-range and 3-point jumpers consistently. Jackson was a super-athletic finisher with a scoring mentality. Starks showed he can run a team, and did a great job reading the on-ball screen. He knew when to turn the corner and get to the rim. He also knew when to drive, when to draw the defender and pass the ball out and when to shoot the 3. Franklin attacked in transition and was a terrific passer, who scored by getting to the rim or knocking down the deep 3.

Reggie Rankin and Antonio Williams cover basketball recruiting for Scouts Inc.