CHICAGO -- When you have some of the nation's best players at their respective positions all under one roof, the level of intensity quickly rises. On the second day of the Nike Amar'e Stoudemire and Deron Williams Skills Academies, the players paid even more attention to detail and the coaches expanded the scope of the workouts. The pick-and-roll segment along with five-on-five with structured offensive and defensive concepts was terrific. The objective of the academy is to increase the effort, skill and basketball IQ of every camper. Mission accomplished through Day 2.
A look at some of the top players from each of the academies.
Deron Williams Skills Academy (Point guards)
2011 PG, 6-3, 185
He is a big, strong and athletic point guard who is very productive. He can see over the defense to find open teammates and has solid vision. Johnson is improving his pick-and-roll play by reading the defender before making the correct play. He uses his size to get into the lane and score over the top of the defense. Plus, he is a good shooter with range to 19 feet, but is average beyond the arc. Johnson has a good basketball IQ and seems to understand when to score and pass. Defensively, his versatility, size and strength could give smaller point guards trouble. He is big enough to even defend shooting guards and small forwards.
2011 PG, 5-10, 170
The faster the game, the more effective Carson plays. Although this lighting-quick point guard excels in transition, he can also execute in the half court. He pushes the ball with great pace and is always a threat in transition to make a play. Carson's ability to play the game fast yet under control is impressive and rare for someone at such a young age. As a distributor, he is ready and willing to give it up to his open teammates. Although at a moments notice he is very efficient in penetrating the lane and scoring with his floater. He also has a solid mid-range jumper. In pick-and-roll action, he can deliver a nice pocket pass to his post players or get in the lane and score. On defense, he's a pesky on-ball defender who changes the tempo of any game.
2012 PG, 6-3, 175
He is a true floor leader with terrific instincts for the game and the point guard position. Rose possesses a tight handle and always plays the point with his head up so he can see the entire floor. He knows when and how to deliver an assist on time and on target for a scoring basket. However, you can not leave him open because Rose will make you pay with his consistent jumper and ability to drive to the rim. Overall, he influences the game with his basketball IQ and his passing but still has plenty of room for growth.
Amar'e Stoudemire Skills Academy (Power forwards/centers)
2011 PF, 6-8, 220
Bronx, N.Y./ Oak Hill Academy
He had great energy and effort in the drills. Johnson was aggressive on the glass as he pursued the ball with great urgency on both ends. His ability to handle the ball for a player his size is a problem for opposing power forwards when he attacks the basket from the perimeter in a pick-and-pop situation. Johnson also did an excellent job hitting the open 15-foot jumper with necessary time and space. The Arizona commit has really benefited from the high level of coaching that the Skills Academy provides.
2011 PF, 6-8, 225
He is a lefty who uses a jump hook over his right shoulder as his go-to move. Price displayed an excellent shooting touch around the basket and proved that he can shoot over most defenders thanks to his length and elevation. He also likes to spin into his move to create space. Like Johnson, he gave great effort in breakdown drills. He was also good in short pick-and-pop and pick-and-roll drills when he hit the 12-to-15-foot open jumpers and finished above the rim when he had a clear path. If Price continues to work hard to add to his skill package, his game will go to the next level.
2011 PF, 6-8, 215
Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg
He is an undersized power forward who possesses excellent athletic ability. This lefty can hit the open mid-range jumper to about 15 feet with time and space and likes to score off curls into the lane. Sullivan is also an explosive vertical jumper and an above-the-rim finisher anytime he has a clear path. He competes and plays with toughness and is a true matchup problem for less-mobile power forwards. Sullivan has the body of a small forward with an athletic post game. If he can add to his perimeter game, however, his production will increase. He is one to watch.
• Julian Royal (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton) has demonstrated solid skills but needs to get stronger and more assertive. He is most comfortable with his face-up game and is very consistent in shooting jumpers from the high post, but he struggles some with his back to the basket because he is not strong enough to hold his own on the low block. Randle is considering the following schools: Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Wake Forest, Northwestern and Oregon State.
• Myles Mack (Paterson, N.J./St. Anthony) is a small-but-quick scorer who is becoming much more efficient as a point guard each time out. He is an excellent shooter with range beyond 20 feet and has a solid pull-up jumper. Mack is also elusive and is effective at creating his own shot and can finish when he gets into the lane. He is considering the following schools: Seton Hall, Rutgers, Marquette, Virginia, Providence, DePaul, Virginia Tech, Fordham, St. John's and UCLA.
• The skill of shooting is still not where it needs to be with today's players. As a whole, they are solid with the high-school line at 19-9, they are streaky behind the college line at 20-6 and really struggle behind the NBA line of 23-9. Shooting is something you can work on by yourself everyday. Every player must take shots at game speed from familiar spots on the floor to improve. It can be done.