NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Saturday’s Day II of the LeBron James Skills Academy was made up of two more sessions of drills, with the 80 or so players broken up into groups of posts, wings and point guards.
After zeroing in on the posts on Friday, I parked my posterior on a folding chair facing the courts on which the point guards and wings got after it on Saturday morning and late afternoon, respectively.
First off, my thoughts on the PGs . . .
*As a collective, they seemed a lot more focused and attentive on the task at hand – getting better – than were some of the “bigs” I watched Friday night.
*The PGs were a lot more comfortable and efficient while shooting with their off hands.
*For the most part, all of the PGs looked to be good to very good jump shooters.
*The smallest player in the camp – junior-to-be Parker Jackson-Cartwright (Los Angeles Loyola), who is listed at 5-foot-9 ½ and is, in reality, probably a lot closer to 5-8 – also was one of the most impressive during Saturday’s drills.
I don’t think I saw him miss more than one jumper, or one open teammate. He could end the summer as the most significant challenger to Tyus Jones (Apple Valley in Minnesota) for the moniker “best junior PG in the country”.
*Kasey Hill (Montverde, FL, Academy) was the best of the PGs that I saw at the adidas VIP Exclusive Run in Las Vegas in April.
There wasn’t much flashy on his part Saturday but there was also nothing he did – or didn’t do – to make me leery of my opinion going into this event that he is one of the three top PG prospects in the Class of 2013, along with Anthony Barber (Hampton in Virginia; he’s also at the camp) and Andrew Harrison (Richmond, TX, Ft. Bend Travis; he isn’t at the camp).
*Stephen Clark (Oklahoma City Douglas), Duane Wilson (Milwaukee Dominican) and Nigel William-Goss (Henderson, NV, Findlay Prep) are top-flight PGs that I watched at the final week of the Nike EYBL (in Hayward, CA, on Memorial Weekend) as well as the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp (in Charlottesville, VA, last month).
But Solomon Poole (Jacksonville, FL, Parker) and Billy Garrett (Chicago Morgan Park) have them topped. This is the fourth major event I’ve watched each compete at this spring and summer.
*Zach LaVine (Bothell, WA) – who committed to UCLA several weeks ago – was grouped with the PGs.
And he might actually be a PG, per se, some day. But, for now, he’s a “wing/shooting guard”, despite whatever you may hear otherwise.
At 6-3 plus, he looks like he’s headed for about 6-6 someday. He’s got all the vertical explosive, lateral quickness and shooting range needed for a prototypical “elite level-shooting guard”. But I just don’t see enough to make me think “yeah, he’s a PG” right now.
And, on to the “wings” . . .
*James Young (Troy, MI) and Kuran Iverson (West Hartford Northwest Catholic) came into the camp as – conservatively – two of the 10 best prospects in the Class of 2013.
Anyone still doubting that assertion wasn’t in one of the two Rancho High gymnasiums Saturday.
*High school hoops’ top-ranked 2014 member, Andrew Wiggins (Huntington, WV, Prep), was at his oh-so-smooth yet oh-so-just-as-explosive on Saturday, gliding by defenders off the dribbles and nailing jump shots in their faces.
*He best senior-to-be in Southern California, 6-4 Isaac Hamilton (Bellflower St. John Bosco), has been grouped with wings in the drills.
And he handled those drills very well on Saturday, knocking in mid- and deep-range jumpers and beating defenders off the dribble with ease.
But I think he would have been better served being group with the PGs, since that will be his primary (if not “ultimate”) position on the college and – not to be getting too far of ourselves for the time being – NBA levels.
Frank Burlison is one of the most respected basketball writers and basketball talent evaluators in the world. He’s an original (1978) member of the McDonald’s All-American Selection/Advisory Committee and was inducted into the United States Basketball Writers’ Association Hall of Fame during the 2005 Final Four in St. Louis. You can catch his writing, player evaluations and comments on the sport – on all levels – at www.BurlisonOnBasketball.com and via his Twitter account – FrankieBur. He can be contacted at email@example.com