College Basketball Nation: Nike Skills Camp

CHICAGO -- It was a big weekend. Saturday, with an entire nation at their back, the U.S. took a sad but wholly deserved loss to Ghana. Sunday, England divided itself between the twin complexes of inferiority and victimhood thanks to a 4-1 beating from the hated Germans. In my town, there were summer festivals and a gigantic culinary street party and beautiful weather and the Cubs playing the White Sox.

Me? I was in the middle of a gym watching basketball camp. And I couldn't have been happier.

It was my good fortune to attend the Nike Skills Camp at Attack Athletics on Chicago's west side this past weekend. To be more accurate, I attended a group of camps, each hosted respectively by Deron Williams, Amar'e Stoudamire, Paul Pierce and Kevin Durant. Each camp was based on position -- point guards with Williams, forwards with Stoudamire, "wings" with Pierce and Durant -- and hosted 20 of the best high school and college players at differing times.

The result was thrilling. There are a couple of reasons. The first? This non-recruiting reporter, someone who relies on the power of the Internet to view each year's incoming talent, got to see some of the better 2011 and 2012 recruits in the country, up close and personal.

The second? This college basketball fan, someone currently living through the offseason's brutal hoops drought, got to see some of college basketball's best players -- Nolan Smith, Jacob Pullen, Marcus Morris, Demetri McCamey, LaceDarius Dunn, and so on -- compete against each other in a closed setting. It was completely and totally awesome.

I'll have at least a couple of posts on the camps in the coming days, but for now let's empty the notebook of things I saw and heard at Attack during the two open media days. To the bullet points!

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