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Top performers at LeBron James' Skills Academy
Khem Birch, Wayne Blackshear, Tyrone Johnson among the best of the best.
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Thursday, July 8, 2010
AKRON, Ohio –
One man's opinion from LeBron James' Skills Academy July 5-7 on the campus of the University of Akron:
File photo by Dennis Stiff
Jabari Brown guarded LeBron James Wednesday.
(Class of 2012/6-9 PF/Hometown: Quebec City, Quebec, Canada/
Notre Dame Prep HS, Fitchburg, Mass.
) – The native Canadian and rising junior appears to have that exceptional natural ability that should translate into a professional career. He showed his reputation as one of the top shot blockers to come through the ranks in recent years and even helped his team to a win a scrimmage over a James-led team.
Morgan Park HS, Chicago, Ill.
) – He can play bully ball but he’s got the explosiveness to go with it and knock down a series of jumpers. The Louisville-commit continued to deliver on his potential, looking like a man among boys scoring the ball.
(2011/6-9 PF/Virgin Islands/
Academy of the New Church HS, Bryn Athyn, Pa.
) – One of the top shot blockers - if not the best - in the rising senior class, Christmas continued to show off his fundamentals. He scored with some impressive footwork and shot-fakes. He said he is considering Florida, Florida International, Georgetown, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Syracuse and Texas. Those schools and more are no doubt considering Christmas.
Da Juan Coleman
(2012/6-9 PF/Syracuse, N.Y./
Jamesville-DeWitt, DeWitt, N.Y.
) – There were four players here last year who were rising sophomores at the time and Coleman was one of the top prospects even then. This year he controlled his area on one end and showed good hands and finished on the other.
(2011/6-5 SG/Greensboro, N.C./Chatham, Va./
Hargrave Military Academy, Chatham, Va.
) - He missed Monday and Tuesday with an ankle injury, but from prior viewings and some moments of brilliance Wednesday, it’s apparent that his ability to score is on another level. Committed to North Carolina, Hairston is leaving his home high school Dudley and transferring to Hargrave for his senior year.
(2011/6-2 PG/Toronto, Ontario, Canada/
Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev.
) – Not only does he have the skill but he shows the unmatched intangibles of how to lead a team. He was one of the top communicators on the court and had a series of assists to go with a pair of open three-pointers during one run. Committed to Texas, Kabongo is leaving Saint Benedict (Newark, N.J.) and transferring to Findlay for his senior year.
(2011/6-11 PF/Lakewood, Ohio/
St. Edward HS, Lakewood, Ohio
) – One of the biggest of the big boys, he’s light on his feet, defended the post well, hit the boards and showed fluid moves on the blocks. He said he’s transferring from St. Edward for his final year of high school before eventually attending Louisville.
Plainfield HS, N.J.
) – Blessed with long arms to go with an impressive pace and feel, Johnson showed the best ability of the guard bunch to switch speeds and create his own shot with fundamental moves on several occasions. He committed to Villanova the July 4th weekend.
Meridian HS, Miss.
) – The lefty scorer hit three straight jumpers to go with a pair of steals and a series of other plays that were within the team concept. He said he expected to be in contact with the following: Florida State, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Marquette, Ohio State and Seton Hall.
La Quinton Ross
(2011/6-8 SF/Jackson, Miss./
Life Center Academy, Burlington, N.J.
) – The long and lanky swingman, often plagued with injury, delivered on his much talked-about potential. He used his size and mobility to score inside-and-out and more importantly, he defended the perimeter. Maryland, Ohio State and West Virginia are following him.
- A mini-battle ensued in one of the scrimmages with LeBron James when Dominique Pointer (6-5 SG/Winston Salem, N.C./Quality Education Academy) popped an open three-pointer and a few trips later down the floor nailed another one with James on him. James called for the ball and the floor opened up for the two to go one-on-one, where James came at him with a hesitation dribble and blow-by for a big dunk. Pointer wanted a chance to answer and both teams were all for it as they spaced the floor for the duel with everyone egging them on. Pointer came down the left side of the floor with James waiting for him and he decided to settle for a quick three-point attempt that fell about three feet short, giving everyone a good laugh.
- One of the high school groups of five were able to knock off James and his team of pros that at different times included Cavs’ teammates Daniel Gibson, Jawad Williams, Jamario Moon and Christian Eyenga.
Khem Birch and Ricardo Ledo, summer teammates on the New England-based Expressions team, led the high school quintet that defeated the NBA crew. Their team looked tentative to start when they opened up with a turnover and then an airball. But Birch got them going with one of his blocks and Ledo finished it at the other end with a big dunk ahead of the pack.
A few trips later in a perfectly executed pick-and-roll set, Ledo would split the defense with a pocket pass that ended up a dunk for Birch and a memory for them both.
- The lucky few players who had the opportunity to guard James included
Oakland HS, Calif.
De La Salle HS, Chicago, Ill.
) and Blackshear. Although James’ jump shot wasn’t falling, none had much luck stopping him going to the basket or scoring on him at the other end. Then again, who does in the NBA?
News and notes
- With many of the country’s top players in Europe competing for Team USA in the FIBA Under-18 national tournament, the camp took a hit at the top as several of the best rising seniors were occupied. In turn, however, it allowed other players to fill their spots and get increased exposure in front of the college coaches who attended.
- North Carolina (8), Texas (7) and New Jersey (6) had the most players in attendance based on where they played last year and not considering transfers for the upcoming school year. California, Georgia and Illinois each had five.
- The host state of Ohio was represented by Jakarr Sampson, a 6-foot-7 swingman from Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary, the school James starred at as a prep.
- Four rising sophomores attended the camp last year but there was just one this year, he being
Upper Room Christian Academy, Raleigh, N.C.