First off was the Memorial Day Classic and it was a tournament that we kind of struggled in. We lost a pool game against Baltimore Elite and then we ran up against California Supreme, who ended up winning the tournament in the playoffs. We were up on them by 15 early and ended up losing at the buzzer. It was really tough to go out like that.
After that I had a break with AAU and the big camps. For about two weeks I was able to spend some time with my high school team. We went to two different team camps and went a combined 8-0. It was good to get a chance to play with them and get a good feel for what we are going to be like this year.
I went to the NBPA Camp after that and for obvious reasons it was great. I got a chance to play with a bunch of guys that I usually don’t play with. My camp team went undefeated and won the camp championship. It was probably my favorite event of the summer because I played my best there and we won the championship. It was a prestigious honor to get named MVP of the camp. It’s just a camp, but it is the “NBA Top 100 Camp” and it feels pretty good to be named MVP of a camp like that and just keep it going from there.
Next up was the Deron Williams Skills Academy. That was a different kind of camp. It was a lot of teaching and it was probably my second favorite event of the summer. Being able to work with Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Ganon Baker, I learned so much. It was probably the most I’ve ever learned in a three-day period and I was able to earn MVP of that camp as well which was special. Deron was real cool. He was there every day working with us and would eat lunch with us and stuff like that. I was able to talk to him about a lot of things and he gave me his phone number and told me that I could call or text him any time.
2009 NBPA Camp Champion & MVP
The LeBron James Skills Academy was the next camp that I went to. It was fun. We got to start out in Akron where it was real skill work and a real camp setting for the first two and a half days. From there we took a bus to Cleveland where we played games in a tournament setting. It was nice to get to play against guys after working out with them. My team started off 2-0 and then we lost in the first round of the playoffs, but I loved it. I think the games were a lot better. There’s just a different feel when you are playing in a tournament instead of playing in just a regular camp game. I loved this year’s LeBron.
Then there was the Peach Jam and it was tough this year. The two years previous we went in as one of the heavy favorites and we had very good teams. This year we were kind of like an underdog because we went in with no big man. James McAdoo was out with injury and Luke Cothron had left us after playing two tournaments. We had to play Travis McKie at center and Justin Anderson at the four so we were really small. But, we competed and played hard. We went 2-3 in pool play, losing some tough games. It was still fun because it was about putting things on your back and trying to win. I put the effort in and as a team we did also. It was the hardest I’ve played in a while, just putting it all on the line. The results don’t always show it, but looking at the big picture I think it was good for me.
As far as a team, the AAU Nationals was our best event of the summer. We again were underdogs and we just went out and played as if we had nothing to lose. We won our first two pool play games and went up against Kyrie Irving and the New Jersey Roadrunners. It was a fun game, they are a very good team and they play together well. Kyrie is a great player but we ended up winning by about 15. We played the Illinois Rising Stars next and they are really a great team. I can’t remember an AAU team that ran as many backdoors and sets as they did. Then we made the Elite 8 where we played against the Georgia Stars. We had beaten them at Peach Jam two weeks before that and were able to do so again. Next was the Arkansas Wings who we had also beat at the Peach Jam, so it was kind of a break to get two teams in a row that we knew. Then in finals we ran into just a great All-Ohio Red team and they were too much. They are a great bunch of guys and will do well in college.
Finallly, the Global Challenge was a very fun event. It’s nice to come together and play against other countries and players that you don’t see day in and day out. Our team, well, we started out very poorly and lost to Brazil by 30 points. They were a pretty good team. It’s tough when you only have one like one day to practice and prepare with a new group of guys. We had a good group of guys, though, and were able to build some chemistry. Next we beat Asia by about 25 and it seemed like we started to come together. Then we played the U.S,.Midwest team and beat them by like 14. So we bounced back and finished strong.
FEEDING OFF THE CRITICS
When you are in the spotlight for a long period of time people really begin to scrutinize your game. They start to see what’s wrong with you instead of what makes you a special player. I think that I played a bit more aggressively this summer. I played with more of chip on my shoulder versus last summer when I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, what’s going wrong?’ This year I said to myself, ‘I’m Kendall Marshall, I’m just going to go out there and do me and things will work out for the best.’
I think about it every day, the perceptions that people have of me. They say that I’m too slow, or that I can’t shoot, or that I’m not going to play at North Carolina. I think about those perceptions and I think that I did a good job of going out and proving that I can play and it was nice to get the recognition for it that I did as the summer ended.
END OF AN ERA
The night before the championship game at AAU Nationals, Andre Dawkins and I were sitting in the room talking and it hit us. That was it - it was going to be our last summer game ever. As a kid, you grow up and you travel around playing every summer, but it’s over now. It’s going to be tough because you look forward to it each spring. You are moving on, but that’s good too.
2003 AAU: Team Maryland
You form relationships with guys and get that bond over the years. Now that this is over, everybody is moving on to their colleges and so you won’t be able to really see them all again. But, I think we are all moving on to bigger and better things.
I’m excited about P.J. [Hairston]. He’s a heck of a player and I’m really looking forward to playing with him at UNC. I kind of had the feeling that Carolina was the leader but I was never sure. Now that it’s official that I’m going to get to play with him, I’m very excited.
We’d definitely love to have Harrison Barnes come play with us. He’s a great player and he’d fit well in our system. Also James McAdoo would be a great piece for that 2011 class to build a core with P.J. If we can get those two that would be great.
Reggie [Bullock] and I decided that we are both going to go down for ’Late Night With Roy Williams’ for our official visits. That’s going to be very exciting. It’s weird now that we are the top recruits instead of the baby Tar Heels. We’ve been the young boys for so long, it’s going to be fun to be the older guys this time around.
I’m still not done with the summer. I’ve got the Chris Paul Camp coming up. Getting to work out with him and getting to work on stuff with my game is awesome. I hear it’s going to be great competition as well. The Elite 24 in New York is after that. I’m just looking forward to a relaxing weekend up there. I’ve never gotten to go up and play in Rucker Park, so I just want to go up there and compete. I’ve been thinking up some stuff. You never know, I might have to break some stuff out of the box for that one.