Skeen Progressing

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Jamie Skeen knows he's not there yet. All it takes is a matchup with Top 10 senior Tasmin Mitchell to realize that you're not physically where you need to be.

But it's not like Skeen, a 6-8, 205-pound junior, was dominated by the 6-7, 240-pound Denham Springs (La.) forward. In fact, if you just look at the stat line, it seemed like a close matchup. Skeen posted 18 points (8-14 FG, 2-4 3pt, 0-2 FT) and seven boards in North Mecklenburg's 69-43 first-round rout at the GlaxoSmithKline Invitational, while Mitchell had 20 points and 12 boards.

"I liked it – I liked the challenge," Skeen said postgame. "It was a good test because he's strong and has 40 pounds on me. I think I held my own, though."

Of course, Skeen did have some help. As he admits, the game was more of a "five-on-one" contest, with his teammates helping to collapse on Mitchell on the defensive end, though Skeen was able to pick up a couple of blocks on his own.

"If I had to guard him by myself, I still think we would have won, but it would have been a closer game," Skeen said.

And North Meck had a number of offensive weapons besides Skeen, including center Ben Stywall (24 points), that were too much for Mitchell alone to counter.

Skeen did play aggressive in spurts, taking it at Mitchell on several occasions for baskets or drawing fouls (when Mitchell picked up his third foul early in the third quarter, North Meck put the game out of reach). Skeen's points came on some short contested shots, demonstrating a good feel for around the basket, and he did step out and hit two threes, though that's not likely to impress a college coach such as Roy Williams – who was seated courtside – because the post is where Skeen will need to excel at the next level (he lacks the ball handling skills to play on the perimeter).

What did he take away from this matchup?

"Going against Mitchell makes me want to gain more pounds and I'm glad I've got a year to get bigger," Skeen said. "I haven't done [weightlifting] much yet really, but I'm going to cut down on the camps next summer and train."

Skeen admitted that he was nervous heading into the game, knowing who was in attendance.

" I get butterflies once in a while, especially when my coach tells me out back before the game that Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski -- all the big ACC coaches -- are out there. But once I get out here, I can just play."

Skeen was in Chapel Hill a week ago, with a baseline seat to watch the Tar Heels beat Vermont in the Smith.

"It was good – they put me on the floor, front row," he said. "That's the best seat I've had in all my visits."

For now, Skeen's list of offers includes Florida, NC State, Miami, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Clemson. With the potential to add more offers, Skeen doesn't plan on making a decision until his senior year.

But to add more offers from elite programs, Skeen will need to demonstrate that he can be a consistent force in the paint – with more weight/muscle and a more aggressive mindset – and he knows it.

(Photos by Jim Hawkins/Inside Carolina)


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