Kodiak: Long live the Golden Knight.
How will you remember Harper Kamp and his career at Cal?
CBKWit: Harper Kamp is your quintessential team guy. He doesn't have the athletic ability to take over a game, but he's a solid enough player to contribute to many a victory. I'll remember his rainbow free throws which were always more successful than it looked like they should be. He went 4-4 at the line down the stretch of the Jorge game.
Eddie and Roxy would always describe Harper as a "smart" player, and while he was certainly fundamentally sound (he had to be, since his injuries limited his athleticism), I was often frustrated when he'd chuck up 20 footers, especially during his senior year. It didn't seem like smart shot selection, and I wonder if the coaching staff gave him the green-light to shoot those.
Regardless, as plain as Kamp's limitations are, Cal's problem is not Harper Kamp. With only 5 passable players by season's end, Cal's problem is that they don't have enough Harper Kamps.
Kodiak: I have a soft spot for Harper because he battled back from a serious knee injury.
After flashing potential as a true frosh, we really didn't have a chance to see him until he was a junior. A lot of people forget that he practically came from nowhere to show off an array of post moves along with that sweet lefty J.
Usually, bigs take a slow path of development and exhibit plenty of growing pains. For Harper to essentially flip the switch from reserve to mainstay without the benefit of real games was really impressive.
I still wonder how much noise that conference title-winning team might have made with a healthy Harper Kamp to rotate with Boykin and MSF.
It's unfortunate that most of Harper's senior year was played without a veteran big next to him. Without a true space-eater at center, we had to abandon a lot of our high post sets and Harper was stuck with some poor match-ups. To really appreciate his game, you almost had to watch all the work he did off the ball. On defense, he was constantly directing traffic and helping the younger players stay positioned properly. On offense, he was often the guy that set the key screen or made the swing pass that led to an open shot and an assist. For a basketball purist, his game was beautiful to watch. It was unselfish, fundamentally sound, and generally very grounded. You could see that he was a highly intelligent player who understood his own strengths and weaknesses and usually played within himself. When I saw him trying to do too much, it was often because the team was struggling and he was trying to give them a lift.
If there was ever a player who would be perfect to bring back and be an addition to the coaching staff, I could see Harper fitting in here very well.
Moving forward will be an interesting transition. We'll have younger players with more length, height, and hops, but it's hard to see any of them possessing the same knowledge of where to be on the court. I suspect that we might see some stuttering our offensive sets, and some scrambling on defense as we work our way through a few growing pains.
Best wishes to Harper with his future endeavors. He will be missed.
LeonPowe: To add to what Kodiak said above, I remember during the Jerome, PChris, Theo season stories were circulating that he was killing Boykin in practice. Man it would've been nice to have a healthy Kamp on that team.
UncleSam22: To me, Harper always makes me think of someone that is just a hard worker. It could not have been easy to come back from the knee injury and I'm sure there were times when he wanted to quit, but he stuck it out and turned himself into a really good player. He was never going to overpower anyone with his athleticism but you could see the effort he put in to make himself a solid player.
He also seemed like such a cool guy. Super down to earth, someone that would be fun to hang out with and be friends with. I base this on the few seasons and games I got to see him play but he never struck me as someone that took things too seriously and together with Jorge, wanted to win but have fun while doing it.
Norcalnick: His defining game to me was the insane triple overtime game at Haas in which he dropped 33 points on the eventual elite eight Wildcats . . . and played every single minute. That was his essence. Playing better than you thought he was capable despite circumstances that would humble other players. It's a testament to his will that one of my favorite games of all time was a game that Cal lost.
Vincent S: Loved Harper. For those who don't know, Harper heavily considered transferring out when Montgomery was hired. To his credit and our benefit, he stayed. Our 2009-2010 team with Harper would have been a beast. While he wasn't a prototypical NBA prospect, he was the most dependable guy our team had for a while. I never lost faith in any game when Harper was in.
Avinash: While it's easy to understand and appreciate what Gutierrez brings to the basketball court, the opposite is true of Kamp. He tended to fade into the background of the offense because the ball was always in the hands of the guards, and when he got it that basketball was either quickly popping back to the guards or on its way to the bucket. Most of his action came off the ball, which really forces you to watch him at all times.
Pick and roll, so good. Kamp could often seal his man and get into the perfect spot to drive. If his man left him to follow the guards, he was left wide open on the bucket to nail things on the outside. You can't talk up mid-range game; it's purely an art that the basketball nerds can appreciate. Kamp turned what could've been a disadvantage against bigger centers by forcing them to come out on the perimeter. If they didn't contest, he would drive to the bucket and throw one down.
And his footwork was something. His ability to pivot made up for his athleticism, as it forced his defender to play disciplined and up front. A lot of times they bit and then he was going up-and-under.
Kamp didn't rebound a lot, which made him look like a weak defensive power forward (although the general Monty scheme makes the guards help rebound a lot), because hey, rebounds make a power forward, man. Kamp didn't have that gifted rebounding gene though--he always had trouble getting lift against the more athletic players of the Pac.
He made up for his rebounding troubles by playing great post defense. Anyone who's tried playing Kamp go one-on-one knows how difficult he is to get past. Boykin had trouble dealing with him his senior season, which makes sense because Kamp has very good lower-body strength (Boykin's strength was his quickness at the 5 that allowed him to establish his spot, but Kamp generally was quick enough to match that). He left the boards up to Kravish and Solomon, then the guards cleaned up the rest.
Here's one to savvy.