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Villanueva turning heads at ABCD camp

He’s what you might call a can’t-miss prospect.

With a lanky, 6-foot-9 frame, long, loping strides, bald head and deep-set eyes, Charlie Villanueva was one of the more distinctive-looking campers at the Adidas ABCD Camp in Teaneck, NJ, this past week.

His game is even more unique because, while Villanueva is equipped with the body of your prototypical post player, he spends most of his time on the court wandering out to the perimeter, luring bigger players out to the three-point line before slipping past them with a dribble drive or snipering a three over a less-agile frontcourt foe.

It is this type of versatility that has whisked the Woodhaven native from New York City notable to a player that is popping up on recruiters’ radar screens nation-wide.

“He’s got a lot of talent,” said New York City recruiting guru Tom Konchalski. “But he needs to work on his interior game as well as his perimeter game. The more weapons a player has in their arsenal, the more dangerous they are.”

While hoops authorities like Konchalski realize that Villanueva is still a work in progress, they also recognize that the sky is the limit for the former Newtown High School standout.

“Obviously,” said one ACC coach on-hand for the camp. “He’s a great-looking prospect for the future.”

While there were times in the four-day camp where Villanueva seemed out of sync and had trouble getting into the flow of the games, it was the flashes of brilliance that showed through that have the swingman ear-marked as an elite prospect.

“My game speaks for itself,” Villanueva said. “I was very satisfied with how I played this week. This year, I definitely played better, after having more experience [after attending last year’s camp]. Now I know what to expect and I’m ready for it.”

Exhibit A: Villanueva shakes loose from a defender, drives the lane and skies in for a thunderous two-handed jam.

Exhibit B: Villanueva stalks his defender on the baseline, snatches a pass from a teammate, and blows by a smaller foe, drawing the foul.

Exhibit C: During the Underclassmen All-Star game, Villanueva receives a pass at half-court on the break, staggers a defender by faking a pass behind his back and swoops in for the lay-in.

“I knew what to expect this year and I brought my ‘A’ game,” said Villanueva, who averaged 13 points five rebounds and one rejection per contest.

While there were times during the week where Villanueva seemed troubled by fatigue and drifted in and out of match-ups, it was the Underclassman All-Star game where a seemingly reinvigorated player riddled holes in the opposing defense with his drives and even stepped out on the perimeter to drill a couple of long-distance bombs, tallying 21 points, seven rebounds, and countless gasps from the crowd.

“I just came out here to play and have fun,” said Villanueva after his all-star showing. “This was just an all-star game and I had nothing to prove.”

And while Villanueva sports a game oozing with potential, the Blair Academy (NJ) standout realizes he will need to hit the weights to have a similar impact at the next level.

“Right now, I’m basically just trying to get stronger,” said Villanueva. “The rest of my game should take care of itself.”

After being reclassified as a sophomore for the 2000-2001 school year at Blair, Villanueva recognized that he would have to beef up his academic resume, as well, to take the next step.

“Coming to Blair has definitely helped my academics,” said Villanueva. “It has helped me a lot school-wise and basketball-wise.”

And while Villanueva still has two more seasons at the prep level before he makes the jump to the college circuit, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the junior-to-be came home to a mailbox brimming with invitations from college programs looking to lasso in one of the premier players in the class of 2003.

“I’ll worry about [colleges] next year when I’m a senior,” Villanueva said . “Right now I’m pretty much just keeping my doors open.”

Reach Contributing Writer Brian Towey by e-mail at TimesLedgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

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