LeBron Skills Academy – Day 2 Notes (Part 1)

In part one of of our recap of day two of the action at the LeBron Jame Skills Academy we highlight the standout showing turned in by 2014 Ypsilanti (MI) power forward Jaylen Johnson, encouraging recruiting notes from top 2014 target Devin Booker and top 2015 target Luke Kennard, and much much more.

High School Player Workout

Devin Booker This talented youngster unfortunate had to withdraw from competition on day two per his father’s instruction.  “He called me a hater,” Melvin Booker laughingly said later.  Devin was likely somewhat serious when he said it, but that dad saw was his five-star son still laboring on an ankle he injured last month at the NBA Players Association Top 100 camp.  It certainly explained why the normally deft shooter kept catching the front of the rim on his shots. He just wasn’t getting the lift he normally does.  On the recruiting front the fall fast approaching, and so too is the time in which he will narrow down his list.  The Moss Point, MS star acknowledged that he knows a few of the schools that will make the cut, but he is not ready to announce them publicly. That said, it’s clear that Kentucky and Michigan State are two programs that have made their marks with him in recent months.  That’s thanks in large part to the head coaches of both programs making strong pushes personally.  Not be overshadowed, though, is Michigan.  In a summer jam-packed with camps and nursing injuries, Booker made it a point to attend the Wolverines’ elite camp last month “out of loyalty.”  From where does that loyalty stem? “Michigan has been there since the beginning… going back to the eighth grade,” he explained.   That trip turned out to be more than just on gesture on his part.  It also gave him an opportunity to further connect with the man that would be coaching his position in Ann Arbor, lavall jordan.  Looking back on the experience Booker said that Jordan’s demeanor and approach “reminds me a lot of my dad.”  Booker also mentioned that Drake Harris has been consistently putting in a good work for the Maize & Blue.  “I spent the last three weekends with him,” reported Booker.

Jaylen Johnson This rising senior was once again impressive due to the fact that he consistently outworks his opponent.  He was again all over the glass, but there were two caroms that stuck out most.  One was a ferocious tip slam in traffic. The other came after he missed a free throw.  The Ypsilanti, MI star came flying down the lane, grabbed his own miss, and then threw a no look pass to his teammate under the basket for a lay-up.  Becoming a better passer has been a major focus for Johnson, especially since he is becoming more proficient at putting the ball on the floor.  He is still a long way away from narrowing down his list and still claims no favorites, but he admitted that the recent offer from Michigan State hit home a bit more. I had been waiting on an offer from any in-state school.”  Before that he had resigned himself to most likely heading out of state since that is where he had been receiving the strongest interest.  Now he has at least one school on the home front as an option.  As for Michigan the 6-9, 206-pounder indicated that the Wolverines are still keeping tabs on him, but there hasn’t been any talk of an offer.  He believes that could change if he performs well when the Maize & Blue brass makes it out to see him in July.  Time will tell.

Luke Kennard The Buckeye State star had another okay shooting day by his standards.  That was of little concern to the scouts in attendance, though, as Kennard established himself long ago as one of the truly elite shooters in his class.  The more prominent questions have to do with his offense off the bounce and there continue to be signs of growth in that area.  That’s evident in the increasing number of floaters he attempts during games.  Kennard chatted with GoBlueWolverine in between games on day two and indicated that that shot is a huge emphasis of his in workouts these days, and he is committed to perfecting it.  Like a number of the other Michigan targets in attendance he also indicated that he isn’t yet ready to narrow his list.  Even so it’s clear that the Wolverines reside in a very prominent place in his recruitment. “I love that staff,” replied Kennard when asked to lay out the Maize & Blue attributes he likes most.  There were a number of others, but his comfort with the staff and players and how “I can just be myself there” seem to resonate most.  At the same time, he has developed similar comfort with some other programs on his list.  Ohio State and Kentucky in particular.  The strong position both schools stand in is also buttressed by his boyhood affinity for each.

Other Notes:

Jalen Brunson’s showing was defined by his unselfishness.  We’ve seen the rising junior go on torrid shooting streaks, but he didn’t look very much for his own offense.  He was definitely more interested in setting up teammates and being pesky on the defensive end of the floor.

It was another quiet day for Kameron Chatman.  The four-star forward isn’t one for hunting his own shot, and that’s not a recipe for stat-column success at a camp like this one.
Eric Davis sat out the game we watched in the evening with an undisclosed injury. 

I’ve been trying to think of a comparison for Kevon Looney’s game, and watching him yesterday I finally came up with one.  Former Maryland star Joe Smith.

Diamond Stone makes one appreciate what a rarity true post skills are in young bigs these days.  Stone consistently works for great post position. If guards ignore him or the defense does a good job of denying, he works to the other side.  If he’s doubled he finds the open man or kicks it back out to re-posts.  Then we he gets the ball he has an arsenal of moves in the paint and a feathery touch.  What he doesn’t appear to have just yet is deep range.  He hoisted a few errant jumpers on the day.

Stay tuned to GoBlueWolverine for part two during which we highlight another outstanding showing by Mitch McGary.

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