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LeBron James Skills Academy: Sunday Recap and Recruiting Notes

The position skill sessions wrapped up on Sunday morning at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the participants were divided into 8 teams for two sessions of games in the afternoon and evening. An impressive contingent of spectators that included the event’s namesake, recent NBA champion LeBron James and his Team USA cohorts took in the high school talent at what could be the most loaded camp this year, from top to bottom.

Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle confirm the obvious

With Jabari Parker in Lithuania and the recipient of a gold medal, the Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, noticeably absent from the camp, and Aaron Gordon out with injury, the two most talented players in attendance were 2013 power forward Julius Randle and 2014 wing forward Andrew Wiggins. Of that claim, there is no possible debate given their performances on Sunday.

It takes no scouting experience or extensive basketball knowledge to pick up on the obviously dominant performances both player showcased during the scrimmage action.

Wiggins (see video above) brought LeBron James to his feet during his acrobatic show. Wiggins, a Canadian at Huntington Prep (WV), showed elite explosiveness on the floor that is seldom seen outside of the NBA. He had a capable outside stroke and overall game, but his bounce and get up are almost out of this world. There is no mincing words, as in watching Wiggins one gets the sense that they are seeing a future No. 1 draft pick in the NBA.  As the current rules stand, Wiggins will likely pick between the Kentucky Wildcats, Florida State Seminoles, Duke Blue Devils, Syracuse Orange and North Carolina Tar Heels, according to his list on Sunday, for one college season.

Randle was easily the most productive, consistent and talented big man in attendance at camp. The free flowing camp environment allowed him to demonstrate his handle from the perimeter to the paint, with frequent finishes at or above the rim. With a complete skillset that includes tremendous size, strength and agility, Randle is a tough cover at any level. His motor was consistently on, and he was simply unstoppable at times. It’s hard to argue with those that prefer Randle as the top player in the 2013 when he plays as he did on Sunday.

No, it’s not charting any new territory to say that Wiggins and Randle are elite players, but they cannot be bypassed with the way they competed and performed against high caliber competition.

Player Observations

Kevon Looney – 2014
  • Marc Loving, 6′-7″, 210, SF, 2013, St. John’s (OH): As a sophomore in high school, Loving made the decision to commit to the Ohio State Buckeyes. As a result, he could be the most talented, but least hyped player in the class. He was terrific in action on Sunday, with a consistent stroke, a skilled all-around game, and really solid play within the flow of the game. Loving has the look of a player that can be extremely successful in the Big Ten, and it makes one wonder if he was uncommitted how much attention his game would receive.
  • Derrick Griffin, 6′-7″, 225, SF/PF, 2013, Terry (TX): There’s no doubt Texas is a football state, and there is no reason to question Griffin’s decision to be a football first player for the Texas A&M Aggies, but as a basketball observer one can’t help but dream on Griffin’s potential. He has an upper body made out of a granite, is a strong presence as a rebounder, and takes no prisoners in the paint. He has some semblances of a wing game, and has an ideal frame for a strong “3” at the next level. If for some reason football doesn’t work out, the Griffin’s potential as a hooper cannot be questioned.
  • Austin Nichols, 6′-9″, 202, PF, 2013, Briarcrest (TN): A smart playing and skilled “4”, Nichols exhibited the ability to face up defenders and stroke shots, but also rebounded and took the ball to the rim when needed. Not physically imposing, Nichols is effective as a big man and can probably add weight to his upper body. Nichols would be a terrific addition to any high major program at this stage in his development.
  • Devin Williams, 6′-8″, 235, PF, 2013, Montverde Academy (FL): A dedicated and persistent banger inside, Williams knows who he is on the hardwood and patrols the paint like it’s his job. Williams uses his 235 pound frame to its most effectiveness and works hard to produce. On the defensive end, Williams acts as if it is a personal insult with opponents attempt to score over him, and denies action at the rim.
  • Wesley Clark, 5′-11″, 172, PG, 2013, Romulus (MI): Though not overly impressive in drills, Clark really played well in two games. He is a heady guard that didn’t back down from anyone. In warm-ups and drills his shot didn’t fall consistently, but he was a consistent shot maker with good selection in game play. Clark was matched up against more regarded lead guards and got the best of opponents for much of the games. He hit a game winner in the evening session and looked to be one of the better underrated players in attendance.
  • Parker Jackson-Cartwright, 5′-9″, 136, PG, 2014, Loyola (CA): Every compliment regarding Jackson-Cartwright’s game is oftentimes balanced with “but” and a mention of his slight frame. Where his sub-5′-9″ height takes him ultimately is a matter of debate, but what cannot be questioned was his ability to make his teammates better, draw fouls and lead his squad. He’s a winner from the backcourt and plays beyond what the measurables would indicate.
  • JaJuan Johnson, 6′-4″, 176, SG, 2013, Southwind (TN): A worker on the wing with a constant motor, Johnson’s shot could have been more consistent, but he worked throughout the games to be productive at almost all times. He can slash and was active on defense.
  • Anthony Barber, 6′-2″, 168, PG, 2013, Hampton (VA): The gap between Barber and Kasey Hill (Florida Gators pledge) has narrowed to almost nil, for the No. 2 point guard slot in the nation behind Andrew Harrison. In transition or a half court offense, Barber has almost freakish court vision and blends unselfishness and passing to give his team the best opportunity to win. Barber is a vocal leader and has many ideal point guard traits. Whether the Louisville Cardinals, Alabama Crimson Tide or Kansas Jayhawks land him, Barber has star written all over him for the next level.
  • Jabari Bird, 6′-5″, 179, SG, 2013, Salesian (CA): There was no more consistent operator offensively from the mid-range than Bird on Sunday. He drained jump shots of differing difficulty with shocking regularity, and put the ball on the floor when needed. Bird didn’t buy into the sometimes hectic camp play, and stayed within his game to outstanding results.
  • Trey Lyles, 6′-9″, 225, PF, 2014, Arsenal Tech (IN): Like Bird, Lyles doesn’t play a game that is perfect for the camp setting. Still, Lyles impressed with his fundamental play, skill level, and unflappable nature. He’s an asset to his team at almost all times, and showed strong moves in the paint for two point conversions. Lyles defended bigger and stronger opponents and was effective on that end of the floor. The early Indiana commit has the looks of a top-10 player in the 2014 class nationally.
  • Shannon Hale, 6′-8″, 205, PF, 2013, Christ School (NC): An early pledge to Alabama, Hale took to Sunday’s play with terrific intensity and had a motor that wouldn’t quit. He did plenty of damage from catch and finish situations near the hoop, but also had some shooting ability near the paint. Hale had a focus that made him extremely effective for his squad during both games.

Recruiting Rundown

  • James Young, 6′-6″, 210, SF, 2013, Troy (MI): One of the top talents on the spring circuit, Young seems to have identified the Kentucky Wildcats, Kansas Jayhawks, Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan State Spartans and Arizona Wildcats as the top contenders for his services. He put together several minute long stretches of dominance on the offensive end with his size and athelticism, and noted he is looking to play in a transition offense as that will be the best fit for his skill set.
  • Wayne Selden – 2013

    Wayne Selden, 6′-5″, 229, SF, 2013, Tilton School (NH): Despite reclassifying to the 2013 class, Selden noted that he is in no hurry to make a college decision and doesn’t feel any pressure despite stepped up interest from colleges. Selden stated that he is considering making visits to the UCLA Bruins, Florida Gators, Syracuse Orange, Harvard Crimson and Missouri Tigers. In terms of his timetable, Selden said he will take his recruitment slow until he is ready to decide.

  • Kameron Williams, 6′-3″, 160, SG, 2013, Mount St.Joseph (MD): After his extreme scoring during Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, Williams is a hot name on the circuit right now. He told Hoopniks.com that the Miami Hurricanes are coming at him the hardest right now, and Ohio State and Syracuse also may be attractive among his many scholarship options. Williams noted that he has been receiving scholarship offers so frequently that he hasn’t been able to cut his list due to constant interest.
  • Kuran Iverson, 6′-8″, 200, SF, 2013, Northwest Catholic (CT): With an interesting trajectory and background, Iverson can be one of the most debated recruits in the 2013 class. He appears to be moving back towards the top of his class on an upward swing, and stated Florida is pushing the hardest to land him in his opinion. Iverson said that he wants to take all his official visits, and is planning on the Gators, Syracuse and the Connecticut Huskies being contenders.
  • Kevon Looney, 6′-8″, 183, SF/PF, 2014, Hamilton (WI): A top-15 talent, Looney has looked good playing alongside of Andrew Wiggins on his camp team. Prior to camp, many high-majors have already extended scholarship offers to Looney, as he mentioned he holds offers from the Wisconsin Badgers, Marquette Golden Eagles, Georgetown Hoyas, Tennessee Volunteers, Michigan Wolverines and Cincinnati Bearcats. Looney said he hasn’t thought about making a list, but said Michigan State is keeping tabs on him but has not offered yet.
  • Noah Vonleh, 6′-8″, 222, PF, 2014, New Hampton School (NH): A top-5 prospect in the 2014 class, Vonleh is working on trying to develop his mid-range game and not getting caught up in recruitment. He hasn’t made a list yet, but is being pursued by dozens of high-majors. Vonleh specifically recalled coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats making contact with him just after midnight when the rules changed to allow such communication, along with the Louisville Cardinals, Ohio State, Indiana Hoosiers and Arizona Wildcats. Vonleh said he is sometimes inundated by contact from the coaches, and cannot reply to them all.

 

About K.J. Hassenstab

K.J. Hassenstab is the publisher of the College Basketball Newcomers Guide book and Hoopniks.com. He founded Hoopniks.com in 2009, and has contributed to SlamOnline, Dime Magazine's HighSchoolHoop.com, and NBCSports.com, along with other publications in the past. Hassenstab has covered grassroots, high school and basketball recruiting for over a decade. Follow on Twitter, @Hoopniks.

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