A couple of things have changed for Antonio Blakeney since last year that became apparent early in the McDonald’s practices. First, he clearly has gained some explosiveness. Always quick and fast, he’s now elevating better than ever and much more likely to finish a drive with a dunk than a layup.
He has put his springs to use as a pull-up jump shooter. Those shots always have comprised a large portion of his game, but now Blakeney releases them even more effectively over outstretched arms. He has a natural, straight-up leap that should serve him very well in Baton Rouge.
Blakeney also has improved his three-point shot. That progress was noticeable during Monday’s three-point contest but manifested in the live practice sessions as well. His release looks smoother and he’s getting better rotation on the shot, after a somewhat disappointing 2014 travel season from long-range.
He has worked hard yet continues to be humbled by his achievements.
”This experience is amazing, it’s just a great blessing to be here,” Blakeney said. “It’s just a whole bunch of very good players and I get to be a part of it. I think the committee picked a good 24 (players).”
Blakeney also feels entirely comfortable with he fact that an even more heralded Tiger recruit — top-three forward Ben Simmons — is in Chicago as well.
”Ben and me are real tight,” Blakeney said. “We are hanging out all the time.”
In a few months, Blakeney and Simmons will arrive at LSU with heavy expectations, but the Florida native is taking it in stride and is willing to be patient as he acclimates to the college game.
”I think I slot in perfectly on style,” he said. “I just want to come in and help how I can, not try to come in and dominate or something like that.”
Blakeney is Scout’s No. 24 senior and should become an immediate asset for Johnny Jones’ program.