LeBron James Skills Academy Player Profiles

LeBron James Skills Academy Player Profiles
Jul 13, 2009, 10:59 pm
NCAA Player Evaluations

-Cole Aldrich- Similarly to the way he played at the Adidas Nations Camp in Dallas last August, Aldrich again did very little to justify his status as a potential top-5 draft pick. It’s likely that he’s just not the type of player that stands out in these settings, as he seems to look very uncomfortable for the most part outside of Kansas’ system. Aldrich’s skill-level offensively looked very limited in the drills and five on five action, as he has average footwork and touch around the rim and appears pretty mechanical when trying to create his own shot. Defensively his terrific frame and freakish length allows him to be quite a factor when he puts his mind to it, but he often looked tentative and lethargic trying to make his presence felt.

-Al-Farouq Aminu- Although he showed flashes of great potential, Aminu was somewhat of a disappointment here, looking quite limited offensively and only amplifying that initial impression with the way he repeatedly forced the issue.

Aminu seemed to have his heart set on trying to prove to the scouts in attendance that he’s a legit small forward prospect, but he only appeared to do exactly the opposite. His jumper looked quite poor in the drills, showing poor footwork coming off screens and a very slow release, leading to extremely inconsistent results. He was able to make some open mid-range jumpers, but looks a long ways away from becoming a reliable threat from the college 3-point line, let alone NBA range.

Aminu shows a great first step beating his man off the dribble with his left hand, but struggles trying to utilize his right hand or create shots in pure isolation situations. Defensively, he did a great job guarding both forward positions, using his outstanding length and athleticism to emerge as an extremely disruptive presence.

With Jeff Teague and James Johnson off to the NBA, Aminu will have to show that he can shoulder a much larger offensive role than he did last season, and it will be interesting to see how efficiently he will be able to do so. No one will deny the upside Aminu possesses at this point in time, but potential is only going to win Wake Forest so many games.

-Manny Harris-One of the most athletic players in attendance, Manny Harris showed a lightning quick first step and terrific leaping ability. While Harris’ narrow frame and poor wingspan aren’t going to help him out much on the defensive side of the ball, he did show the ability to make tough shots, which he seems to settle for quite often. An extremely talented scorer regardless, Harris is likely to emerge as one of the top players in the Big 10 this year, even if his NBA potential is still a matter of debate.

-Jordan Crawford-The Indiana transfer and current Xavier player looked extremely hungry after sitting out all of last season, and was able to make his presence felt from time to time with some big plays. The most impressive one came in the evening session of day two, where he showed no shame using a slick cross over to unbalance none other than LeBron James, and then proceeded to drive to the rim and cram an emphatic two-handed slam right in King James’ face. Needless to say, the crowd was pretty impressed by Jordan Crawford. He also made some shots from the perimeter, crashed the offensive glass, and even played some tough defense. We may have to check back on Crawford’s progress this season at Xavier at some point…

-Jerome Jordan-Seeing is believing when it comes to Jerome Jordan, as there might not be a player in this year’s draft class who makes a stronger initial impression on first glance. His physical tools are amazing, starting with his legit 7-feet size, his excellent frame, or his pterodactyl 7-6 wingspan. When it came to the actual games or drills, though, it was a whole different story. Jordan showed flashes of potential with the way he finished around the rim, but for the most part he looked clumsy or not focused (depending on your perspective) trying to make catches with his so-so hands, and also seemed very lethargic in the competitive part of the drills. He may be a little bit too laid back for his own good, prompting one scout in attendance to go as far as to call him “a less athletic Patrick O’Bryant.” We wouldn’t go quite that far, but Jordan definitely needs to show a higher intensity level if he wants to justify passing up being the 2nd or 3rd best center in the 2009 draft by returning to Tulsa for his senior year.

-Larry Sanders- Another player that evokes some pretty strong reactions on first glance, Larry Sanders may have helped himself as much as anyone just by showing up for this camp. Measuring 6-10 in shoes, with a freakish 7-6 ½ wingspan and a frame that should put on weight, Sanders probably would have been a first round pick solely based on upside had he decided to enter the draft this year. He’s also a pretty athletic guy, as he showed repeatedly by running the floor and going well out of his area for impressive rebounds on both ends of the floor. Defensively, he was an incredible presence at times, changing absolutely everything around the basket just by putting his arms in the air. He needs to do a better job not biting on pump-fakes, but his potential in this area is obviously considerable. Offensively, Sanders is extremely limited at this point in time, looking mechanical in his movements and showing a very low-skill level. He did attempt some mid-range jumpers, but doesn’t seem to have the greatest touch.

-Willie Warren- Offensively, there wasn’t a more impressive player in attendance, as few possess the shot-creating tools that Warren does from the perimeter. His combination of athleticism, scoring instincts and aggressiveness made him quite a force here, as his shiftiness with the ball and long strides allow him to get nearly wherever he wants to go. When he wasn’t creating angles for himself to get to the rim, Warren showed an advanced ability to make contested shots from the mid-range and beyond the arc. On the downside, Warren measured in shorter than advertised at just 6-3 ½ in shoes with a 6-6 wingspan, and didn’t look anything like the point guard some experts have billed him as. It’s pretty clear that he’s most comfortable first and foremost looking for his own shot, as he seems to get tunnel vision once he starts driving down the lane. The coaches that worked with him raved about his attitude, which seems to be a constant theme.

-Kyle Singler- Singler barely touched the ball in the five on five action we were able to see, but he did show a really versatile skill-set in the three on three and two on two action we took in. He looked extremely competitive getting after guys and trying to make things happen, showing a really nice feel for getting his shot off using head fakes and other crafty moves. His body is looking better and better these days, even if he didn’t shoot the ball as well as we may have hoped in the drills.

High School Player Evaluations

Note: While we were able to get a first look at a large amount of players at this camp, we’d prefer to wait on evaluating most of them until we get another impression from watching them play in Las Vegas at the end of this month.

Harrison Barnes, 6-8, 209 pounds, 7-0 ½ wingspan, Class of 2010

Considering his status as the number one recruit in the country according to both and ESPN (#2 on Rivals after Brandon Knight), Barnes is long overdue for a write-up on this site, despite the fact that he’s two years away from being draft eligible.

Showing prototypical physical tools for an NBA wing player, including excellent size, length and a frame that will fill out nicely in time, Barnes passes the look test and then some on first glance. Maybe not as freakish an athlete as some former #1 overall recruits, Barnes is still no slouch in that category, showing excellent fluidity and overall mobility, to compliment his excellent scoring tools.

Still an improving ball-handler, Barnes is already able to get to where he needs to on the floor thanks to the shiftiness he shows with the ball, combined with his long strides and ability to change directions quickly. He did a good job creating shots for himself in the mid-range area, and was able to convert some extremely difficult shots thanks to his excellent touch. From the perimeter he has a nice stroke and clearly possesses 3-point range, but he seemed to get a bit streaky from time to time.

Not afraid of contact in the least bit, Barnes showed no qualms about utilizing his size inside the paint by posting up the very highly touted Dashaun Thomas time after time. He was incredibly active on the offensive glass as well, making an absolute living by being the first player going after loose balls, showing an impressive work ethic in the process.

His demeanor on the floor is excellent at this point in time, which probably makes high school talent evaluators all the more comfortable in his lofty projection, as he’s all the more likely to continue to work on his weaknesses. He displayed a very nice mix between being aggressive in looking for his own shot and not forcing the issue, which is not an easy thing to do at a camp like this.

Obviously we’ll be talking plenty about Barnes over the next few years. According to, his lengthy recruiting list includes the likes of Duke, Kansas, Florida, Iowa State, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina and Oklahoma. The scuttlebutt seems to indicate that Kansas is in the lead at this point.

Andre Dawkins, 6-4 ½, 196 pounds, 6-8 wingspan, 2010

The crown jewel of Duke’s 2010 recruiting class, Andre Dawkins (#22 Scout, #16 Rivals, #10 ESPN) acquainted himself nicely with this camp from the first moment we saw him, looking extremely aggressive right off the bat. Dawkins shows average size for his position, but makes up for that with solid athleticism, an excellent frame and a long wingspan. His basketball IQ is immediately evident when comparing him with his peers, as he seems to have excellent fundamentals and really looks serious about the game, which is a very nice sign. He’s a confident kid who showed no shame in attacking the defense in transition or taking shots from the perimeter, showing a really nice stroke from the perimeter, solid ball-handling skills and the ability to find the open man. His mid-range game seems to need some work, as he’s not nearly as effective pulling up off the dribble as he is with his feet set.

J.T. Terrell, 6-3, 185, 6-9 wingspan, 2010

Although not the most highly touted player in attendance by any stretch of the imagination, Wake Forest commit J.T. Terrell (#76 Scout, #84 Rivals, #65 ESPN) was regardless one of the more productive, looking extremely confident in this setting and having no problem making his presence felt.

Undersized for the shooting guard position at just 6-3 in shoes, Terrell makes up for his lack of height with a huge 6-9 wingspan and excellent athleticism. He’s a slippery guard who shows very nice change of speed ability and big-time leaping ability, throwing down a number of impressive dunks. Terrell has great scoring instincts and seems to be very creative on top of that, constantly looking for ways in which to get his shot off, but also appearing to be fairly unselfish trying to create for others. He was very effective in transition and showed a pretty flashy game, which goes along with his flat-top that makes him very convenient to spot at all times. Terrell struggled with his mid-range game in the action we took in, and looks to be an improvable defender on top of that. Sometimes his flashiness lead to turnovers, but you couldn’t fault him for trying to make things happen in this setting. Terrell looks like a nice get for Wake Forest, and will likely be around in college for a while.

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