LAS VEGAS – As the final game of the four-day camp was getting set to tip off at about 7 o’clock Saturday night, the LeBron James Skills Academy was as noteworthy for the players not playing as it was for the guys about to play in the championship game.
Stephen Zimmerman, Isaiah Briscoe, DeAndre Ayton, Eric Davis, Malik Monk, Mickey Mitchell, Malik Newman and Ben Simmons – eight of the upper-tier prospects who were in uniform the players begin working out in the Cashman Center late Wednesday morning – were among the players who didn’t play Saturday because, a) they were injured; b) they were fatigued and “resting” for the Nike-front EYBL Championships (Peach Jam) in Savannah next week or, c) had already flown home.
But some of the very best of the 80 or so players who were on hand on Saturday were still engaged and spry enough to hook up in the title game in which “North Carolina” (the eight camp teams were named for ACC and Big Ten schools) knocked off “Syracuse”, 65-52.
The Tar Heels’ eight-man roster included California’s best big man (Ivan Rabb of Oakland Bishop O’Dowd) and one of its better guards (Aaron Holiday of North Hollywood Campbell Hall, the youngest sibling of Jru Holiday of the New Orleans Pelicans).
Both were particularly effective in a first half that ended with their team up, 34-24.