Sophomore Watch: Jamie Skeen

Everything changed for Jamie Skeen when his teammate at North Mecklenburg High (N.C.), senior Matt Salley, was kicked off the team midway through last season.

"People were telling me I had to step up my game," said Skeen, a 6-8, 205-pound sophomore big man. "At first I was worried that we weren't going to be very good, but then I started to play much better than I thought I would. I didn't know I was going to do it so soon and that it would come this early."

His improved play isn't the only thing coming early. College coaches are trying to get in ahead of the game as well.

According to North Mecklenburg coach Duane Lewis, four schools have already separated themselves – N.C. State, North Carolina, Florida and Wake Forest.

"It seems like I talk to N.C. State daily or every other day," Lewis said. "North Carolina calls my assistant coach about once a week. Florida calls a lot, also."

Skeen, 15, already has a favorite out of the group.

"So far it's between N.C. State and Carolina," Skeen said. "I think I fit better with State, but I'll see how it goes. I still have two more years."

"I like State because of the way me and Marcus Melvin play," added Skeen. "I play a lot like him. He stays on the wing and only goes to the post when needed."

"I love Carolina to death," he said. "That's my favorite school, but I just don't know if I fit in the system."

Skeen, who will play for the Charlotte Celtics this summer, averaged about 10 points and 6 boards during a freshman season that was plagued by growth spurts that hampered his playing time.

"We had to sit him out because he was growing so much," Lewis said. "I'd play him for a minute and he'd be dragging."

"I had to wear kneebraces and felt like Damion Grant at North Carolina," Skeen said. "I couldn't play in a couple of big games as a freshman and it was really frustrating."

Now Skeen is basically over the growing pains (he says he's about 95 percent) and after averaging about 15 points prior to Salley's suspension, he picked it up and had just two games of less than 20 points the rest of the way.

"He just took over," Lewis said. "He's unbelievable down low, has a soft touch and likes to face-up. He's still got to be able to put it on the floor better, but he's really smooth and is very aggressive down low."

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