LeBron James Skills Academy: College Prospects
Semaj Christon 6-3, 185 lbs., 6-6 wingspan, PG, Xavier, So.
Christon has the attributes to be an NBA All-Star someday, but at this point, he's unrefined. His length, quickness and athleticism put him in elite company as a point guard prospect. His biggest weakness right now is the lack of a jumpshot. He will need to correct his shooting mechanics or it's unlikely he will ever be much of a threat from the perimeter.
He was a little slow out of the gates, but he finished the event strong, showing tremendous slashing ability to get to the rim and finish. He showed solid vision passing the ball, but there were limited opportunities to see him operate in the half court. Christon has top-10 pick potential if he has a big season and develops some consistency from the perimeter.
Olivier Hanlan 6-3.5, 182 lbs., 6-5 wingspan, PG/SG, Boston College, So.
While questions surround Hanlan's ability to run the point, he was very impressive in this event with his smooth shooting stroke and excellent ability to get by defenders in the half court off the dribble. He's a crafty player, cerebral decision maker, and excellent ball handler who seems to beat opponents by out-thinking them, rather than using superior athleticism. Displaying point-guard ability next season at Boston College will be a key to how high he can climb on draft boards.
Glenn Robinson III 6-6.5, 211 lbs., 6-9 wingspan, SF, Michigan, So.
"Lil Big Dog" struggled to stand out in this environment. His athleticism and skill level are both very solid, but highlight plays weren't in abundance for him in this event. He didn't play poorly; he just didn't produce very many standout plays. But he's a classy kid with basketball in his blood as the son of a former No. 1 overall pick. He'll have a real shot to be a lottery pick in next year's draft if he continues to improve his shooting and defensive intensity. How Purdue let this one get away is anybody's guess.
Noah Vonleh 6-9, 236 lbs., 7-3 wingspan, PF, Indiana, Fr.
Vonleh is an interesting prospect. His physical attributes and intelligence give him a lot of potential. At this point, though, he doesn't seem to understand the flow of the game very well. He appears to be thinking too much on the floor instead of just reacting to plays out of instinct. A year or two at Indiana should help him develop a stronger feel for the game. He handles the ball well, but lacks much of a post game, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense, considering he's clearly a 4 for the NBA level.
Mitch McGary 6-10.5, 266 lbs., 6-11.5 wingspan, PF/C, Michigan, So.
GRIII's teammate had a nice showing here. There weren't many big men at this event allowing guys such as McGary and Juvonte Reddic to bulldoze through the competition for easy rebounds and buckets. McGary is a emotional player who can be hard to contain when things are clicking for him. At times, McGary flashed some adept footwork and crafty post moves. He lacks great explosiveness, but understands positioning and uses his length and strength well. Many scouts questioned his decision to return, as he was seen as a potential lottery pick in 2013. It will take a giant effort to keep his stock to that level in what appears to be a loaded 2014 draft.
Juvonte Reddic 6-9.5, 248 lbs., 6-11.5 wingspan, PF/C, VCU, Sr.
Reddic has an intriguing combination of strength and athleticism. He's a more fluid athlete than McGary, but lacks McGary's feel on the offensive end of the floor. Reddic played well, showing a willingness to hustle and run the floor, where he was rewarded with numerous dunks. He battled hard in the paint and appears to be a guy with a shot at the first round if he can put together a strong senior season.
Jahii Carson 5-11, 179 lbs., 6-1 wingspan, PG, Arizona State, So.
Carson is a very quick and confident point guard -- perhaps a smaller but more explosive version of Kemba Walker. Carson had a solid under-the-radar freshman season in what was otherwise a forgettable season for the Sun Devils and could break out as a Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate. He displayed solid shooting mechanics over the three days and hit a number of impressive shots. His quickness allows him to get shots off against bigger defenders, though his size will turn some teams off and make landing a spot in the first round a challenge. He's a competitive kid who appears primed for a huge season in Tempe.
Jamil Wilson 6-7, 222 lbs., 6-11 wingspan, SF, Marquette, Sr.
Wilson is an NBA-level athlete with great length. While he's not overly skilled, he brings enough energy and athleticism to likely get looks in the second round of next year's draft. On top of that, he does an excellent John Lucas impression.
Shabazz Napier 6-1.5, 185 lbs., 6-4 wingspan, PG, Connecticut, Sr.
Napier posted surprisingly good measurements, as he appears to be much smaller on the court. He had some nice moments at this event -- he's a clever scorer and plays with flair. Napier has receieved a lot of criticism over the past couple years, and there are some concerns about his attitude, but scouts like his talent. Can he put it all together for a big senior season and revive his stock?
Aaron Craft 6-2.5, 194 lbs., 6-1.5 wingspan, PG, Ohio State, Sr.
Craft really gave the other point guards fits as they tried to set up their offenses in the half court. He's a pest who always gives incredible effort on the defensive side of the ball. He also showed excellent ability to lead the team in the half court and find teammates for easy baskets. His glaring weakness, of course, is his lack of a shot. It is such a weakness that it will make finding a place in the league a real challenge for him. His shot comes off his hands with sidespin. The further he is from the basket, the more it breaks down. If someone can work with him extensively to rebuild his shooting form, this intense competitor could carve out a nice career as a back-up point guard. His lack of length doesn't seem to hurt him much, as his on ball defensive ability is top notch.
Markel Brown 6-3.5, 184 lbs., 6-7.5 wingspan, SG, Oklahoma State, Sr.
Brown was solid, but failed to stand out. He's an above-the-rim athlete with a solid shooting stroke, but he's undersized for the shooting guard position, though his length helps to make up for some of his lack of height. He should benefit playing alongside Marcus Smart, the premiere point guard in the nation.
Dominic Artis 6-1.5, 183 lbs., 6-2.5 wingspan, PG, Oregon, So.
Artis had a solid showing. Having played high school ball at Findlay, he was obviously comfortable with the setting in Las Vegas. He still tries to add a little too much flash to his game at this point and needs to get stronger/tougher. But after a quality performance in the NCAA tourney, Artis is a prospect to watch down the road.
Markel Starks 6-1.5, 174 lbs., 6-2.5 wingspan, PG, Georgetown, Sr.
Starks isn't flashy, but he plays under control and generally makes smart decisions. His standout attribute is clearly his excellent jumpshot, which was on display here. Georgetown has a younger, more talented, but less polished point guard in Devontes Smith Rivera, so it will be interesting to see just how the team handles the situation.
Trevor Releford 6-0, 196 lbs., 6-6 wingspan, PG, Alabama, Sr.
Releford has solid skills for the point guard position, but he lacks the speed and athleticism to do much at the NBA level. He should focus on conditioning and toning his body some. His 6-foot-6 wingspan helps make up for lacking great size/quickness.
Jordan McRae 6-5, 175 lbs., 7-0 wingspan, SG/SF, Tennessee, Sr.
Though still painfully skinny, McRae had a very solid showing, displaying above-average run-and-jump athleticism, as well as an improving outside shot. This is a player who has a chance to move up draft boards if he dedicates himself in the weight room and puts together a solid senior campaign. His ball-handling ability and pull-up jumper off the dribble are works in progress, but each skill shows some signs of life. His freakishly long 7-foot wingspan certainly helps his cause, as well.
Sam Thompson 6-7, 192 lbs., 6-8 wingspan, SG, Ohio State, Jr.
Thompson is a bit of an enigma. He has the physical attributes to be a standout shooting guard, but doesn't seem to consistently play to his abilities. He needs to focus on becoming more assertive as a scorer. His weight is bit surprising -- he plays skinnier than he's listed and should continue to build strength and become better at attacking the basket and finishing through contact. Thompson has great potential, but will things click in order for him to realize it?
Damyean Dotson 6-6, 197 lbs., 6-7.5 wingspan, SG/SF, Oregon, So.
Dotson is a solid athlete, but nothing spectacular. He has solid size for the wing position and gives good effort. Appears to be a four-year college guy with a chance to play professionally (Europe, maybe?) if he vastly improves his skill level.
Winston Shepard 6-8, 201 lbs., 6-9 wingspan, SF, San Diego State, So.
Shepard is oddly similar to SDSU standout Jamal Franklin. While he isn't a particularly fluid athlete, he has above-average run-and-jump ability and he really excels on the defensive end. Offensively, though, he seems to be trying too hard to make plays, which causes him to rush things instead of just relaxing and allowing plays to happen. Shepard has lockdown defensive potential, which makes him an intriguing prospect. But if he wants to reach his full potential, he should focus on being a three- or four-year guy and work on his all-around skills, particularly a consistent jump shot from 12-18 feet.
Jakarr Sampson 6-7.5, 208 lbs., 6-11 wingspan, SF, St. John's, So.
Sampson was one of the freakiest athletes at this event. Without question, he possesses high-level NBA length and athleticism. He still has miles to go in terms of skills, however. His jumpshot is one of the ugliest you will see, as it seems to change every time he shoots. Instead of a smooth follow-through, Sampson uses more of a push shot. His putback dunks and alley-oops are breathtaking, but at this point, he's much more of an athlete than an all-around basketball player. Decision making, passing and learning some offensive moves are all areas that need work, but without a reliable shooting form, he's going to struggle to score in the NBA. He needs time in college and a major overhaul on his jumpshot.
KJ McDaniels 6-6, 198 lbs., 6-9.5 wingspan, SF, Clemson, Jr.
McDaniels opened some eyes with his run-and-jump athleticism. While he was one of the more impressive leapers in the event, his lack of ball-handling skill is a glaring weakness that he must improve upon. At this point, he appears to be more of an undersized 3 than a true 2, but he has physical attributes that can't be taught.
Tyler Harris 6-8, 204 lbs., 6-10 wingspan, SF, Providence, So.
Prior to the Skills Academy, he was best known for being Tobias Harris' little bro. Harris didn't come in with a big reputation, but this kid definely helped his cause. In fact, he was one of the pleasant surprises of this event. He has a very nice shooting stroke and plays a very controlled, cerebral game. He isn't the athlete Tobias is, of course, but he has good size and a solid understanding of how to play to his strengths and make an impact. I came away from the event with a much higher opinion of this kid than I had going in.
Akil Mitchell 6-8.5, 232 lbs., 6-11.5 wingspan, SF/PF, Virginia, Sr.
Here is another pleasant surprise. Mitchell is a tweener, but he appears to have the skills to play both forward positions. He's probably more of an undersized power forard, but plays with excellent energy and has the length to play power forward in today's small-ball up-tempo style. He should be primed for a breakout year at Virginia.
Johnny OBryant 6-9, 260 lbs., 7-1.5 wingspan, PF/C, LSU, Jr.
O'Bryant came into LSU highly acclaimed as a multiple All-American Game selection. He seemed to struggle with his weight his first two years, but he appears to have really dedicated himself to getting his weight down. It's paying off, as his mobility looks vastly improved. He's long been known as a versatile forward with the ability to face up and use the bounce to get to the rim. He displayed that, as well as excellent energy in and around the basket, grabbing boards and finishing with some big slams.
*Heights measured with shoes on.
Akil Mitchell is no tweener. He doesn't have enough range, ball handling, and is a bit on the slow side when it comes to small forwards. Power forward at the next level through and through.
Olivier Hanlan is a sophomore.