A lot of high school basketball players would often say they model their game after LeBron James. Very few have the opportunity to be invited to the LeBron James Skills Academy. Amile Jefferson, a 6-7, 185-pound forward, is one of them.
"I was definitely excited," Jefferson explained, talking about being invited. "I know that this is one of the prestigious camps. It's definitely one of Nike's prestigious camps, just in general. When I learned I was going there, it was definitely humbling. It's just a chance to get to play with some of the greatest players in the country, meet LeBron, play with LeBron and learn so much. It was amazing."
As he said, The Skills Academy is known around the high school basketball circuit as being host to some of the best high school talent in the country. Although most invitees go to this camp well-prepared, there is still a learning curve that prospects go through. Jefferson credits a competitive area such as Philadelphia, as well as being active on the AAU circuit and at other well-respected camps for helping him prepare to be on such a stage.
"Just experience, I think," Jefferson added."From high school to the AAU circuit, things like that help me to get here and be ready and play against these guys. I've known these guys from other AAU tournaments and things like that. I think the combination of those things really help."
As for what he learned over this last week?
"It's really taught me It's really a whole new challenge," Jefferson added. "Just being able to play with somebody like LeBron James, our generation has probably never seen anyone like him. They may never see another one like him. To be able to learn from him, to get a chance to hear him speak and give us honest answers is amazing. To be around all these great coaches that just want to teach us, and to have a wealth of basketball knowledge is just great."
When it comes to recruiting, Jefferson has a lot of options. Pitt is one of those options. The Panthers have built a relationship in the City of Brotherly Love in recent years, bringing in standouts such as Brad Wanaamaker and Nasir Robinson from that area. In their 2011 class, they signed Malcolm Gilbert, Jaylen Bond and John Johnson--players that Jefferson is familiar with. Because of Jamie Dixon signing players like this, there's some familiarity."Definitely," Jefferson said. "I played with John Johnson and Malcolm Gilbert. I play with Jaylen (Bond) all the time."
That familiarity carries over to developing a relationship with Dixon and the Pitt coaching staff. So far, it sounds like it's off to the right start.
"Coach Jamie Dixon, he's come up to my school before," Jefferson said. "We've played in the Pitt Jam Fest for HoopGroup. That's the only time I've played there, when I've been up there. I know that they do a great job of recruiting kids from Philadelphia. They got the two freshmen in John Johnson and Jaylen (Bond), then they have Nasir (Robinson) who goes there now. They do a great job of interacting with the city kids.
"I definitely hear from Pitt. I had a chance to talk to Coach Jamie Dixon. He's a really good guy, so it was great to talk to him. I got to learn how the Philly guys are doing."
Like most high-profile Philadelphia prospects, it's expected that they will have their list of schools to pick from. Thus is the case for Jefferson. He lists--in no particular order--Villanova, NC State, Maryland, Ohio State, UConn, Stanford and Pitt as the schools he currently hears from.