It can get really hard to find college basketball writing material in July. Unless there is something that surfaces which probably is an appalling off the court incident, transfer, or coaching change… life is fairly slow in the college basketball blogging world during this time. But, if you look hard enough you can find something CBB related.
Kevin Durant just concluded his Skills Academy at the end of June that featured the top 30 high school and top 15 collegiate wing players in Washington, DC. That included Big 12 stud Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Bryce Dejean-Jones (Iowa State), and Kelly Oubre (Kansas). Another name familiar to Texas Tech fans on the KD Skills Camp roster was transfer Terran Petteway (Nebraska). Now, it’s time for LeBron James to host the nation’s top 80 high school and top 30 collegiate players in Las Vegas for the annual LeBron James Skills Academy. Featuring many of the elite instructors in the game, the skills academy is hosted by James for four days of intense skill development and competition in front of hundreds of members of the media and scouts from nearly every NBA team. Also, a lot of college coaches show up for the competition. Go the Nike LeBron James Skills Academy to check out the workout schedule and full roster.
This season six Big 12 players were invited to the prestigious camp, and I wanted to take a quick look at each one:
Georges Niang (Iowa State) – He is recovering from a broken foot he sustained against North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament in March. I had picked Iowa State to make the Final Four, which most likely would have happened had Niang not been sidelined by the injury. He always seemed to turn it up a notch and play his best at the end of games, which is something you cannot teach a player. He is often referred to as "the spark" of his ISU team. Look for Niang to be fully recovered from his injury and do special things on the court this upcoming season.
Perry Ellis (Kansas) – He was always consistent and always effective on the court. He has his occasionally low scoring games, but would help crash the boards and play defense during his struggles. I never seem to see him ever really lose his composure. With Wiggins and Embiid gone; Ellis should be the leader of his Jayhawks team next season. I think he will step-up and impress a whole lot of people.
Kelly Oubre (Kansas) – Another blue chip recruit to Kansas along with high school sensations Cliff Alexander and Devonte Graham. I don’t ever like to give lofty expectations to frosh before seeing them play in Big 12 competition. But, here are just a few of the schools that offered him a scholarship… Arizona, Baylor, UConn, Florida, Kentucky, Louisville, OU, OSU, Texas, Texas A&M, and UCLA. He will probably be pretty good as a Jayhawk. In case you’re wondering; Texas Tech offered him as well.
Marcus Foster (K-State) – He was a standout freshman last season and turned out to be the best K-State player on the team. I think from watching him, if he can get his ball control and handling tightened up he will be a monster on the court at guard. Foster has everything that you want in a player based on his offensive and defensive skill set. Expect to hear his name a lot this upcoming year.
Buddy Hield (Oklahoma) – Being one of the breakout players last year in the Big 12 has put the spotlight on Hield. He scored in double figures in 29 of 31 games, and made at least three downtown shots in 14 of 18 Big 12 games. I always liked his aggressive nature to get the ball in the basket when he held possession of the rock. He is the team leader of the Sooners and can help guide them to have another great 2014-15 campaign. I will be surprised if his stats do not increase this season.
Juwan Staten (West Virginia) – Arguably the best backcourt duo of Staten and Eron Harris in the Big 12 last season has been split up. Staten was incredible in just about every aspect of his game, but Harris was almost just as impressive. Now with Harris gone and Staten working to get even better than last season, his stats should shoot through the roof. I don’t know if WVU will be able to win in the Big 12 without Staten on the court because he is so very valuable to his team.
Update: There was a late addition to the roster that I was not aware of when I wrote this story, Isaiah Taylor (Texas). That makes 7 attendees from the Big 12, most of any conference at the LeBron James Skills Academy this year.
Besides Kansas newcomer Kelly Oubre, these names should be recognizable to anyone that followed Big 12 men’s basketball last season. Get ready this upcoming season for these guys to become household names in our conference. They are all beasts on the floor, and should be lighting it up on the offensive end. It will be another entertaining year for Big 12 basketball. Congratulations to them for being invited to represent the Big 12 in the LeBron James Skills Academy, it's a big time honor.
In the coming offseasons I hope to be searching and stumble across some college basketball blogging material from one of these summer skills camps with a Texas Tech player on the roster. I honestly believe that time will be coming sooner then most think with the way our coaches have been recruiting. Wreck ‘em Tech!