The LeBron James Skills Academy was easily one of the most interesting and entertaining events that I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. From the alleged Jordan Crawford dunk on LeBron (which I missed because I didn’t watch much college player action) to the aura that surrounded LeBron whenever he entered the building (without even seeing him, you just felt that he was in the building), it was definitely a time to remember. It was very cool to see LeBron playing pick up games with the kids, who were noticeably more aggresive when he made his way to the court. If a kid knocked down a three or threw down a hard dunk, there was always a following glance from the kid in King James’ direction, hoping that he saw it. The Nike crew, led by Kevin Foley of Position Sports, did a great job setting up us media members with some interview sessions, for which I want to give many thanks. Here’s my final notes from the camp:
Keala King (2010)– I was able to get a second look at Keala on Tuesday and I left the camp pretty impressed with his play. His passing ability really stuck out today. He made some crisp passes into tight spaces and anticipated the lanes of his teammates very well. He also flashed some athleticism on a slash to the basket followed by an up and under lay in.
CJ Leslie (2010)– Leslie is going to have a big year ahead of him as he tries to round out his game. He’s looking to work on a lot of different things and I would expect post moves to be a main priority. Leslie is gifted with all the athleticism a basketball player could want which provides spectators with a lot of electrifying plays. There’s no doubt he’ll be a top prospect but the ceiling here is so high that I’m extremely interested to see how he develops throughout the school year.
Doron Lamb (2010)– Doron played well during the last 5-on-5 competition of the camp. He has the ability to score in a variety of ways and he showed that today by knocking down jumpers, getting to the rim and taking contact while finishing, even mixing it up with the bigs down low for a put back. I was most impressed with Doron’s ability to use a quick crossover in transition and then knock it up to another gear to get to the rim. His “next gear” may not have the same explosiveness and speed as John Wall’s but it was effectively used by Doron in Tuesday’s competition.
Nick Johnson (2011)– Nick played shooting guard for his squad today while Phil Pressey ran the point. He played the shooting guard role quite well by absolutely raining three’s on his opponents. First he knocked down a couple open jumpers but later, as the defense tried to hug him tighter, he continued his impressive hot streak with hands in his face. Seeing Nick Johnson and Russell Byrd in a three point shootout would be quite a treat. Nike, please take notes for future events.
Rakeem Christmas (2011)– Christmas is a St. Croix native and current Philly boy with a developing game. He doesn’t really have a list yet, but Kentucky, Georgetown, Ohio State and Villanova are some of the schools he said have been involved lately. He has visited Georgetown in the past but plans to take most of his visits next year. Looking at his background of uprooting and moving, distance probably won’t play too much of factor, but I still wondered if he would have a problem leaving the Philly area, where he currently lives with his Aunt. He quickly cleared that up by laughing, “I don’t really care, I’m really trying to leave Philly.”
Michael Gbinije (2011)– Michael is being recruited by a lot of east coast schools, ACC schools and even a few west coast schools. He is still pretty open but does plan on narrowing his list down after July and taking a closer look at those select few schools. Coach Antigua has talked to him a couple of times and the staff seems to be interested in getting more involved. Right now Michael doesn’t seem to be close to a decision but he would like to eventually pick a school before the AAU season starts back up again next year.
Other recruiting notes:
– Kentucky’s top player in 2012, Jaylen Beckham, played in the John Lucas’ Southwest Invitational Camp in Houston this week. Scout.com has a pretty good review of Jaylen’s performance, calling him one of the top guards at the camp. He continues to get good reviews for his pesky style of defense.
– Being in Akron, I missed the beginning action from the Adidas It Takes 5ive in Cincinnati. Evan Daniels of Scout.com was in attendance and some of his UK-related news includes Damien Leonard (2011) claiming an offer from Kentucky, former USC-commit Ryan Boatright (2011) now getting interest from UK’s staff, and Tony Kimbro‘s (2011) good play getting him some interest from UK, UL and Oklahoma State and Kimbro plans to look closer at all three schools. Jody Demling was also in attendance for the beginning of the tournament and he noted that the interest from Kentucky toward Casey Prather (2010) has “picked back up.” I received a lot of reports saying that Coach Cal’s crew were checking in on Prather’s play and this confirms it. Unfortunately, Prather’s team has been eliminated from tournament play so I won’t get the chance to catch up with him. I also received word that the UK staff was looking in on Mychal Parker (2010) but I haven’t heard very many glowing reviews of his performance at the tournament thus far.
– I’ll have a couple more articles (aka my weak attempt at journalism) later this week and into next, looking more in-depth at some of UK’s recruits. Today, I’m traveling back up to the University of Cincinnati to view the rest of tournament play at the Adidas It Takes 5ive. Since I’ve been focusing on the LeBron James Camp all week I’m a little behind for this tournament and will have to work extra hard to catch up on the hundreds of kids attending this event. Therefore, the coverage could go great or it could be a complete disaster but I do promise you that I’ll give it the ole KSR try. We’ll see how things turn out. Wish me luck.