LAS VEGAS –
It won't be easy standing out in the field of 93 elite high school basketball talents assembled this weekend in Sin City for the LeBron James Skills Academy.
Nearly half of the MaxPreps Class of 2013 Top 100 is participating in the event at Rancho High School, along with around a dozen rising stars from the 2014 class and even a few 2015s.
But a pair of prospects from LeBron's home state of Ohio impressed during nearly four hours of workouts Saturday at Rancho High School north of the Las Vegas Strip.
In fact, Marc Loving
and Devin Williams
are the only
two Buckeye State natives on the star-studded roster.
Loving, a 6-foot-8, 210-pound small forward ranked No. 18 among all 2013 prospects, is finally recovered from a sprained ankle that kept him out of action for much of the spring and early summer.
"It was a positive and a negative," Loving said of the ankle injury. "The positive was that I gained a little bit of the weight I wanted to gain and get my upper body stronger. It was a negative because I missed out on participating with my AAU team and a couple of the EYBL (Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League) sites."
A rising senior at St. John's Jesuit (Toledo)
, Loving posted 22.9 point per game as a junior and committed to Ohio State nearly two years ago. While many of his fellow campers are entrenched in the recruiting process, Loving doesn't feel like he is missing out on anything.
"I never could see myself going to another school growing up," Loving said. "I always wanted to be a Buckeye. That was my goal, to play for Ohio State, and it came true."
Williams, a 6-8, 235-pound power forward, is proud of his Ohio roots but will be moving on to Montverde Academy (Fla.)
to play for head coach Kevin Boyle as a senior.
"I'm ready to get down there and work," said Williams, who spent the first three years of his high school career at Withrow (Cincinnati)
Initially unfamiliar with Boyle's resume, which includes coaching recent NBA draftees Kyrie Irving and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.)
, Williams is now looking forward to his tutelage.
"I heard he's tough, but I need it a little bit," Williams said. "That's one of the reasons I went down there. I understand he will get me ready for college and develop my game a little bit more. If he's going to be on my butt, I'm just going to have to take it."
Williams, who took a blow to the nose during the morning session that left him bloodied, is hoping to end his recruitment and sign during the early period in November. DePaul, Louisville, UCLA, Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Xavier are among the schools showing the most interest.
Ranked No. 89 in the MaxPreps Class of 2013 Top 100, expect Williams to make a big leap when the list is updated in August. He's earned it with strong showings at events like Under Armour Hoop Group JamFest and the NBPA Camp in June.
"It's just my opinion, but I feel like a lot of the Ohio kids don't get the love that the big city kids do. We have a lot of talent there that doesn't get the exposure," Williams said.2015 Wisconsin center gets early opportunity
Pushing 6-10 and over 250 pounds, Diamond Stone
is one of the prospects at the King James event that commands attention from a physical standpoint. That's especially impressive considering he's coming off his freshman year at Dominican (Whitefish Bay, Wis.)
Stone averaged 13.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game during his rookie campaign at the school, helping the Knights capture Wisconsin's Division 4 state title.
A strong showing in St. Louis at the Nike Elite 100 event for underclassmen helped him earn a trip to Las Vegas.
"To tell you the truth, it's pretty amazing," Stone said of the experience. "I was so happy I got invited. A lot of big time sophomores and juniors here. It's been a pretty good experience. Lot of good footwork, running and drills."
Cal Poly, Marquette and Wisconsin have already extended offers to Stone. Interest is coming in from Clemson, Georgetown, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and North Carolina.Campers see Dream Team up close
After the morning session at Rancho, participants had the opportunity to watch USA Basketball's Olympic team practice at the Mendenhall Center on the campus of UNLV.
The experience provided plenty of motivation for Loving.
"When you watch the pros it makes you want to get in the gym immediately and work on your game," Loving said.
Sunday will feature a full slate of action at the Skills Academy, starting with a 9:45 a.m. workout session and two games for each of the event's eight teams.