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LBJ Skills Academy Final Recap

Published by on July 12, 2011

After a wonderful experience covering our Canadian guys last year at the Lebron James Skills Academy/ King James Classic, it only felt right to make the trip down to Akron, Ohio again for one of the nations most prestigious camps.

Last year, names like Myck Kabongo, Khem Birch and Kyle Wiltjer represented themselves and Canada quite well at the event. Specifically, Birch and Wiltjer, who used the time to up their status, going up against some of the best prospects across the country.

This time around Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins were the two Canadians invited to showcase their skills in front of a large number of coaches and special guests including Lebron James and Dwayne Wade who made a special appearance. Los Angeles Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe was also at the camp, at times encouraging the guys through the process.

In the first two days of camp, players were separated into groups and were put through a variety of drills and workouts ending each off the sessions with scrimmages open to only media. Day 3 and 4 were game days and coaches were now allowed to watch. Players would join their assigned teams to play in a tournament format with a championship to be claimed.

Ohio State, Memphis, Miami, Duke, Kentucky, UNC, Michigan State, Georgetown, Minnesota, Alabama and Tennessee included a long list of schools who were at hand evaluating prospects.

Andrew Wiggins 6’7 SF, Vaughn/ CIA Bounce, 2014
Coming into the Lebron James Skills Academy we were anxious to see how Wiggins would stack up against older and Elite level guys day in and day out at the four day camp. We’ve seen him at times dominate Canadian high school competition at such a young age, ultimately leading his Vaughan Voyageurs team all the way to an OFSAA AAAA Championship win(equivalent to the highest U.S. State championship). Being one of eight 2014 prospects in the whole camp, Wiggins did his best work early in the camp during workouts and scrimmages. His athleticism was on full display as he made explosive slashes to the basket, finishing with hang time and with excellent body control once at the rim. He has great concentration on the ball when attacking the basket and is extremely quick on the second jump to tip in his own missed shot which he did numerous times throughout the event. His ball handling still has room to improve but also was enough to allow him to create buckets off the perimeter as he did at times using the one dribble pull back between the legs crossover before nailing a step back jumper. When the real games took place in day 3 and 4 Wiggins slightly disappeared most noticeably on the offensive end. He has to show more aggression and be more willing to impact a game in a large way. With all the talent he possesses its unacceptable for him to stand in the corner of the floor and watch everyone else play. With that said he did a solid job of guarding using his length and lateral quickness to lock up offensive players. It’s clear that he belongs and will turn out to be one of the better players down the road.

Anthony Bennett 6’7 PF, Findlay Prep/CIA Bounce, 2012
This has been the summer of Anthony Bennett. No player in North America has seen their stock sky rocket like he has. With momentum flowing, he used the Skills Academy to sustain his new found status. You would have a hard time trying to find a more explosive big man in the whole camp than Bennett. He is a handful for opposing bigs. He can beat bigger guys off of one dribble penetration and out run them for easy dunks in transition or out muscle anyone his size or smaller. The great amount of strength Bennett possesses makes him a tough finisher around the rim with contact or just throwing down vicious dunks. I was aware of Bennett’s ability to stretch the floor a bit but he proved he is a much better shooter than I ever thought. He makes for an excellent pick and pop big man with his ability to stroke it, though his point guard consistently looked him off at the camp. When he did receive the ball in those rare instances off of picks, he impressed with way he shot it. Bennett is truly a gifted athlete and I would’ve liked to see him put it to work on defence and be more active. Overall he had an impressive showing, adding the fact he worked for baskets and played with a selfish point who ignored the talented big man for the most part. Miami and Ohio State coaching staffs were quick to offer Bennett after his performance at the event.
“I just came out here to perform and show what I got going up against some of the top players taking part in this camp. I feel good right now but I’m not satisfied”

Bennett also mentioned “Florida, Uconn, UNLV, Xavier, Washington, Oregon, West Virginia, Cincinnati , Pitt” as some of the long list currently recruiting him hard.

NOTES

-Love the fact the two Canadian guys were set up on the same team (Team VCU) which made the process much easier  when tracking their every move. Compared to last year where we had Myck Kabongo, Khem Birch and Kyle Wiltjer all split up.

- One of my favourite parts of the camp is definitely when Lebron James himself suits up and competes in scrimmages with the high school guys. The fact that he actually competes and doesn’t take a step back due to the guys being in High school makes it that much better. Great experience for the guys and a true test to be able to go up against one of the top 3 basketball players in the world.

- A not so pleasant time at the camp is when the media is forced to exit the building every time Lebron James is set to match up against the college players. This has been the case ever since the Jordan Crawford Incident.

- Andrew Wiggins’ official measurement from the camp goes 6-foot-7, 190 pounds, with a 6’11 wingspan.

- Anthony Bennett’s Official measurement were 6-foot-7, 242 pounds with 7’1 wingspan.

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