TOC: Jamie Skeen Spotlight

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Jamie Skeen has earned high praise for his play on the local scene, but this weekend marks the first test to see how he stacks up on a national level.<br> <center><b><a href=>Photo Gallery</a></b></center>

Skeen, a 6-8, 205-pound forward from Huntersville (N.C.) North Mecklenburg, emerged in the last year as the top prospect in the state, but he admits he hasn't really been challenged yet. The Tournament of Champions this weekend begins his first busy summer of hoops in which he'll get to face off against the nation's best.

He heads to the AAU Super Regionals next week in Florida, then there's the NBPA Camp, the ABCD Camp, the Eastern Invitational, and a couple of team camps – a heavy load for a 15-year-old.

"There's a whole lot of other stuff that I might not go to," Skeen said. "I've got to spend time with my family, too."

But it begins in the Triangle with the Tournament of Champions and prior to tip-off of his Friday evening matchup with his AAU squad the Carolina Celtics at Chapel Hill High School, he was ready for the challenge.

"There's really nobody I've faced that has matched up with me [so far]," Skeen said. "These are the best teams in the country. I know I'm going to do well, but these games should be [a good test]."

Against one of the better 16-under squads – the Atlanta Celtics – Skeen tallied 22 points (9-15 FG, 4-5 FT), 6 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 assists in the Friday night contest.

He's still quite young, but the talent is evident.

"Even though he's only 15 years old, his game is mature -- his moves around the basket, his post moves," said his AAU coach, Clark Camp. "He's one of those rare players who can get it done around the basket with his left or right hand and he's one of our best three point shooters as well."

On this night the long range shots weren't falling, but where he excelled was taking defenders to the hole and showing an impressive feel around the basket and ability to finish. In a short first-half span, he took his man off the dribble three times, drew contact in the paint and scored from short range.

"I create mismatches," Skeen said. "If they have a bigger player I'll take him out to the three-point line and drive on him and if they have a smaller player I'll take him onto the block."

Skeen started at the small forward spot and even while faced up against other wings he was able to take a pass on the perimeter and blow past defenders using both his strength and quickness.

"He knows he needs to work on his ball handling more and once he improves his ball handling and can perfect taking a guy [off the dribble] on the perimeter, it'll complete his game," Camp said.

Considering how easily he got past defenders as is, one can only imagine his game with improved perimeter handle.

"I see him as a college combo forward," Camp added. "He can play the three spot but he's big enough to play in the post and guard the post."

And Skeen admits that the post game needs work. He rarely posted up in this game and wasn't as imposing a presence as a rebounder and shotblocker as one would expect from a player of his height and solid build.

But while there's room for improvement, he's made his claim as the top player in the state and the area colleges have taken notice.

"I'm being recruited mostly by ACC schools, but Florida and some other schools outside the state are also recruiting me," Skeen said.

The national interest is likely to grow this summer, though Skeen intends to stay in state.

"I want to stay somewhere in North Carolina – somewhere that when I'm ready to come home I don't have to travel too far," he said.

Skip Prosser, Herb Sendek and Roy Williams have all made trips to North Mecklenburg. Skeen said he was impressed by a recent unofficial visit to Wake Forest and has talked a lot with N.C. State, but he's a longtime Tar Heel fan.

"That's my favorite college," he said. "I grew up on them. My dad likes Carolina and I started watching them. I've been liking them for the past seven years. I grew up on them, but I'm trying to look at all the schools equally."

But for now the focus is on the hectic summer and the search to find a player that can present a tough challenge.

"I can't think of anyone he's played on the AAU or high school level that you could say is better than him," Camp said.

After Friday night, the search continues.

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