By Rick Fois
The first two days of the Lebron James Skills Academy has featured a ton of talent competing in Las Vegas. In front of many NBA scouts and the cream of the crop of college coaches, 30 of the best College players and 80 of the best High Schoolers in the country had a chance to play against each other and put their names on the map.
Isaiah Taylor was very impressive over the first 2 days displaying his incredible speed and possibly the best floater in the country.
Ron Baker has been very solid, shooting the ball well and making high IQ plays. He’s got a lot of fans among the scouts due to his toughness and feel for the game.
A lesser known player who has really stood out is Georgia State SG RJ Hunter, who has been consistently making 3 pointers from everywhere on the floor. He didn’t do much more, but draining shots is becoming a lost art as one NBA scout said mentioned discussing him.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was one of the more highly rated players, but he surely didn’t have his two best days in practice and games so far. Bad body language along with poor decision-making left many scouts dissatisfied with his performance.
A player that has shown amazing potential after a brilliant Hoop Summit is Kelly Oubre. Though he lacks consistency, his amazing wingspan and natural talent make him the most intriguing out of all the College players here. He will be a Freshman at Kansas next year, and could really explode under Coach Bill Self’s guidance.
In a camp where most of the players didn’t go as hard as they should, lacking toughness, Stanley Johnson was the exception to the rule. It’s incredible how many rebounds he’s gotten in two days considering his lack of verticality, also his winning mentality showed in every aspect of the game. Playing against LeBron he went at him, making a three and then stealing the ball from him, causing LeBron’s heated reaction.
Other players who have shown some good flashes are Perry Ellis, always very solid with his shooting and playing smart; Bobby Portis who runs the floor as well as any big in the NBA, and showed a real soft touch from the mid-range, though he has been missing a little too many open dunks; and Sam Dekker, who was able to create many shots for himself off the dribble and moving without the ball.
High School Prospects
Ben Simmons was very impressive, dominating games without even playing 100%. The skills level combined with his body are hard to match at his level. When LeBron was playing against him, King James had to get out of the way to avoid a Simmons’ poster over him.
Cheick Diallo was great in running the floor outrunning all the bigs and finding easy baskets. His wingspan and athleticism helped him in getting a lot of rebounds and many blocks, on weak side defense he was a beast.
2016 Jayson Tatum and Stephen Zimmerman are on the same team and neither of them have shined particularly the first few days. Tatum has an incredible smoothness, feeling for the game, but looks a little to skinny to finish at the rim against big 7 footers. Zimmerman always shows nice skills but doesn’t always play with fire inside like he is a Center, should be playing to compete at high level.
Henry Ellenson, big man from Wisconsin, showed all of his skills, able to create from the dribble and with a great stroke from 3 point range, really tough to guard on Pick-and- Pop.
2016 De'Aaron Fox, was the most athletic and fastest PG among the HS players, but despite his great defense, his decision making offensively has been questionable at times.
Malik Monk is another standout from 2016, the kid can really score, has incredible athleticism. He had two spectacular dunks, but what really impressed was his ability to use his athletic gifts to score around the basket.
Aaron Holiday has shown improvements in his transformation into a PG. Right now he is still a good, very athletic SG in a small body, but he is definitely better than last year at running a team.
Ivan Raab was probably the best big of his class, but he often needs teammates to create offense for him. He is skilled and coordinated under the basket and very solid on both ends of the court.
The two biggest surprises of the camp so far have been 2017 Troy Brown from Las Vegas and 2017 Deandre Ayton from San Diego. Brown is a 6’6 CG who can really push the floor and create shots for himself and his teammates.
Ayton is a beast under the glass, a nightmare to score against, with his ability to block shots and athleticism. Really looks like he can be special. To think these two kids are only going to be sophomores in high school. Scary.