AKRON, Ohio -- The concept of the LeBron James Skills Academy is to combine the position academies hosted by Deron Williams (point guards), Paul Pierce (shooting guards), Kevin Durant (small forwards) and Amar'e Stoudemire (frontcourt) into one camp. The focus is on teaching advanced concepts through drills, team practices and controlled scrimmages. After the camp, the players head to Cleveland to compete in the King City Classic on July 8 and 9.
Kyle Wiltjer (Portland, Ore./Jesuit)
2011, PF, 6-foot-9, 221 pounds
Wiltjer's skill and feel for the game are simply terrific. During drills and scrimmages, Wiltjer's footwork and touch separated him from the other post players in the class. He executes great ball fakes in order to move the defender out of position in order to get off his shot. He does a great job of screening and sealing his defender for great low-post position as well. A natural pick-and-pop power forward, Wiltjer can also score with his back to the basket and pass out of the post with great accuracy when he draws multiple defenders. Defensively, he understands how to hedge on screens with great effort. Wiltjer reminds us of a high-school version of University of Minnesota and Boston Celtics great Kevin McHale.
Rodney Hood (Meridian, Miss./Meridian)
2011, SF, 6-foot-8, 190 pounds
Hood is a long, athletic forward who shows range and accuracy on his jumper. He is comfortable knocking down mid-range jumpers and extending his distance beyond the arc. He uses his jumper to stretch the defense and set up his dribble-penetration game. When paired with his ability to score from inside and outside, his size and length could make him a mismatch for defenders down the road. He also has quick hands and feet which allow him to defend multiple positions and can cause deflections because of his active hands and alert mind. Hood definitely has the ability to be a productive player on both ends of the court.
Player to watch
Deng Leek (High Point, N.C./Wesleyan Christian)
2011, C, 6-foot-10, 220 pounds
Leek got our attention with his constant activity in both drills and the scrimmage. With his mobility and tremendous length, he is a constant shot-blocking threat and is very difficult to score over. When he does not block shots, he is in position to contest them. He runs the floor extremely well and finishes above the rim from drop-off passes created by dribble penetration. Leek is a raw prospect who has great upside, but his hands need work but he should greatly benefit from the intense skill work from the Academy. Leek is definitely one to watch if his offense catches up with his defense. At this point in his recruiting, he likes Charlotte, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Clemson and Washington.
• With fundamentally polished moves when facing, and when away from, the basket, Wiltjer might be the most skilled big man at the camp. His list of schools includes Gonzaga, Kansas, Stanford, California, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Arizona State and Washington.
• Ben McLemore (St. Louis/Eskridge) has really come on this spring. A post player most of his career, he is now comfortable making the transition to a dynamic perimeter force. His favorite schools right now are Kansas, Missouri, Ohio State, Tennessee and Georgia Tech.
• Khem Birch (Quebec City/Notre Dame Prep) is a very aggressive shot-blocker in the Class of 2012. He goes after everything in range to either block or challenge a field goal attempt. He still needs to learn how to block a shot and keep the ball in play so he can start a fast break, but is still outstanding in his development.
• Ricardo Ledo (Providence, R.I./South Kent) is a 2012 prospect who has big-time potential as the game comes easier to him. For his future growth and development, it will be vital that he stays focused.
• Big man Zack Price (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward) continues to give a good effort and compete on a consistent basis. This left-handed center is active in rebounding the ball and is working on his low-post game.
• ESPN basketball analysts Fran Fraschilla, who coached at Manhattan, St. John's and New Mexico and former Duke player and coach Jay Bilas are coaching at the camp.
Paul Biancardi is a veteran of the coaching ranks with years of college experience. He has recruited on a national level with stops as an assistant coach at Boston University and Boston College, associate head coach at Ohio State and most recently as an assistant at Saint Louis University. Biancardi was head coach at Wright State University from 2003 to 2006. In 2004, he was named Horizon League Coach of the Year. He is a selection committee member for the prestigious McDonald's All-America Game and the Gatorade Player of the Year award.