CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The players selected to the NBA Top 100 Camp are hardly an unknown quantity. Sure, there will be a breakthrough performance or two in the camp, but these players were invited because they’re already considered among the top high school recruits in the country.
Frank Kaminsky wasn’t one of those guys coming out of high school. Though he played for a solid program at Benet Academy (Lisle, Ill.) and was a first-team All-State player by the time he was a senior, he wasn’t a big enough name to be invited to play for the Mac Irvin Fire, the top AAU team in Chicago, let alone play in the NBA Top 100 Camp.
So that gives Nick Rakocevic a leg up on this past season’s Naismith Player of the Year. In high school, Kaminsky was a 6-10 big with outside skills who also was in serious need of time in the weight room. If that’s the criterion, if anybody at this year’s NBA Top 100 Camp could be a future Kaminsky, it’s Rakocevic, who is 6-11, has stretch four written all over him and is in serious need of weight training.
“I’m definitely working out with my strength and conditioning coach a lot,” said Rakocevic. “I want to play inside and outside at the next level, so obviously I have to get stronger to do that. My shot was looking pretty good this past game, so I just have to become a complete player. In college, I see myself playing a stretch four, to be able to pick and pop and do things like that.”
Rakocevic, who will be a senior this fall at St. Joseph (Westchester, Ill.), grew up watching Kaminsky play at Benet.
“He’s always been a really good player to me,” Rakocevic said. “He got his chance to shine at Wisconsin and he showed what he could do. I think me and him have similar games. Big guys who can go inside and outside and can shoot the three. He’s going to be good at the next level in the NBA. I definitely see myself as a Frank Kaminsky type.”
Interestingly, Wisconsin is in the mix for Rakocevic.
“Right now, it’s Texas, UCLA, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, USC, Virginia, Florida State, Miami, Tennessee and a couple of other schools,” Rakocevic said. “I’m going to trim my list at the end of this month.”
Tennessee will definitely make the cut, Rakocevic said. He initially was recruited hard by Rick Barnes and Rob Lanier when they were at Texas and they stayed on Rakocevic when they went to Tennessee.
“The relationship I have with Coach Barnes and Coach Lanier is good,” Rakocevic said. “Coach Barnes has developed guys like Tristan Thompson, Kevin Durant and D.J. Augustin. He developed so many players when he was at Texas. He’ll have the same thing at Tennessee. People are going to play for him.”
Rakocevic averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds a game this season, making second-team All-State. He led St. Joseph to a state 3A title, scoring 18 points with 11 rebounds in his team’s championship defeat of Althoff Catholic (Belleville). Unlike some bigs with outside skills, Rakocevic didn’t start out as a guard who grew.
“I was kind of big my whole life,” Rakocevic said. “They always had me at four or five, but I decided to start shooting a little bit and a couple of them went in, so I started shooting a lot, so that’s become my game. I try to get one-on-one matchups as much ast I can. I’m no point guard, but I can handle the ball. I’m obviously going to keep working at it.”