AKRON, Ohio – While most of the top college coaches and AAU teams were in Indianapolis to start the July live period, 75 of the best high school players in the classes of 2011 and 2012 – and one from the class of 2013 – convened at the University of Akron for the LeBron James Skills Academy. It was the culmination of four separate skills academies over the past weeks: those of Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Kevin Durant and Amar’e Stoudemire. It was a true camp setting, with dozens of drills, but there was one noticeable difference: the King himself, LeBron James, showed up to play pick-up with the players. That was arguably the highlight of the event, as there was not too much to glean from the campers based on various passing and dribbling drills. However, there was plenty of recruiting notes and updates to pass along.
- Mount Vernon (N.Y.) point guard Jabarie Hinds hasn’t been seen much on the circuit this spring and summer due to an injury, but he says he is 85 percent recovered and showed no ill effects during his play at the camp. In terms of recruiting, he holds offers from Louisville, Wake Forest, Oklahoma State, UNLV, Virginia, Florida State, Rutgers and Iona, with West Virginia, Villanova and Connecticut also showing heavy interest. Hinds has taken visits to Oklahoma State, Villanova and Wake Forest.
- 2012 prospect Ricardo Ledo, who will transfer from St. Andrew’s (R.I.) to South Kent Prep (Conn.) next season, is one of the rising stars of the spring and summer. Ledo says Miami (Fl.), Connecticut, West Virginia, Syracuse, Florida and Texas, among others, are recruiting him the hardest. In fact, the 6-foot-5 guard was wearing a Florida t-shirt on Wednesday.
- Ricardo Gathers, a highly-touted 2012 prospect from Reserve Christian (La.), has seen his ranking rise to the top-15 in his class, and his recruiting has increased accordingly. The strong 6-6 forward has offers from LSU, California, USC, UCLA, Memphis, Baylor, Texas, Ohio State, Alabama, Ole Miss, Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State, with interest from Kansas, Syracuse, Georgetown and Kentucky. When asked for his favorites, Gathers said he is favoring LSU, California, Texas and Ohio State. He plans to visit Stanford in August, and also check out Kentucky this summer.
- It’s not enough for some players to go up against LeBron James in a pick-up game; how about following in his footsteps? That’s the case for JaKarr Sampson, who attends St. Vincent-St. Mary (Ohio) – the same high school as James. “It’s a hard torch to carry,” Sampson said. “It’s a lot to live up to.”
That being said, Sampson has seen his stock skyrocket in the past two months, becoming a top-25 prospect. Xavier, Dayton, Cincinnati, Ohio State, Michigan State, USC, St. John’s and Louisville are recruiting him the hardest. He plans on taking an official visit to USC and an unofficial trip to Louisville this summer.
- When talking about dominant rebounders, 6-foot-5 forwards don’t normally come to mind. However, Branden Dawson breaks that mold – he is a beast on the boards. The rising senior from Lew Wallace (Ind.) is looking closely at Purdue, Indiana, Georgetown, Michigan State and Marquette. Despite the Midwest ties, Dawson said location doesn’t matter. “I’m looking for a good education, since I’m a student first,” he said. “Also an up-and-down style of offense.”
- Sylvan Hills (Ark.) guard Archie Goodwin was mostly an unknown heading into June, but his performance at the NIKE Hoop Jamboree has put him on everyone’s radar. “Everyone was wondering who I was,” Goodwin said. “But then my name started getting out.” As a result, the 6-foot-4 Goodwin is being recruited heavily by Baylor, Tennessee, Arkansas, Memphis, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska and Kentucky. He said that his top three at this point would be Tennessee, Memphis and Arkansas.
- As the lone 2013 prospect at the camp, Rodney Purvis wasn’t himself during the first day of the event. “I didn’t really have anything to prove, but I was real nervous [on Monday],” Purvis said. “But now I’m starting to get comfortable and more relaxed.” Although it is early, the 6-foot-2 guard from Upper Room Christian Academy (N.C.) already has a long list of suitors. Purvis holds offers from Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, VCU, Virginia, Xavier, Baylor and North Carolina Central, along with interest from Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Texas, Ohio State, UCLA, Memphis and Syracuse.
- Don’t tell Trevor Lacey that rankings don’t matter. A season ago, a poor showing on the AAU circuit dropped him from potentially a top-10 player down to 58 on one site and 119 on another. Lacey has stepped his game up the past couple of months, though. “I feel like I was on a mission,” he said. “Basically, I want to play in the McDonald’s All-America game, and I’ve been working hard to get there, trying to impress scouts.”
Colleges have noticed the new motivation. Lacey holds offers from every SEC school, as well as Georgia Tech, UCLA, South Florida and Memphis, along with interest from USC, Georgetown, Syracuse, Michigan State and Kansas. The 6-foot-2 guard from S.R. Butler (Ala.) wants to check out Florida, South Florida and Kentucky.
- One thing Brandon Ashley certainly isn’t lacking is confidence. “I’m playing my hardest, trying to get my ranking up as high as I can,” Ashley said. “Rankings are not bull, I’m nice. Yeah, I’m cocky.” The 6-foot-8 power forward from Bishop O’Dowd (Cal.) has seen his stock rise to a top-five ranking at Rivals.com, and his college interest shoot up as well.
He is being recruited by every Pac-10 school, namely California, UCLA, Arizona, Washington and Stanford, as well as Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Texas, North Carolina and Wake Forest. Ashley said he wants to be able to come in and contribute immediately at whichever college he chooses. “I don’t have to be a star, or get all the burn,” he said. “But I want to come in my freshman year and make an impact.”
- An underrated prospect out of the West Coast is Ryan Anderson. He doesn’t get as much attention as some of the other top players out there, but colleges haven’t forgotten him. The 6-foot-7 forward from Long Beach Poly (Cal.) lists California, Washington, Washington State, Arizona State and Gonzaga as the five schools interest in him, with Cal and Gonzaga as his two favorites. He also said he will try to make a decision in August or September.
- Another player who blew up this spring was Nick Faust, a 6-foot-4 guard from Baltimore City College (Md.). “I got a lot better,” Faust said. “My height played a big part, because I had a big growth spurt. I’ve always been a shooter, but I got more effective. I improved my jump shot and my mid-range, and also got to the basket better.” He currently has offers from Penn State, Massachusetts, UNLV, Oregon State, Tennessee, Drexel, Delaware, Memphis, Maryland, Marquette and West Virginia, with interest from Duke, Kentucky, Virginia Tech, Xavier and Clemson. Faust plans on visiting Villanova next week or the week after.
- When a basketball player focuses on the little things as much as Anrio Adams does, it’s clear you have a special player. The 6-foot-2 guard from Franklin (Wash.) said his experience at the Skills Academy will not advance his athleticism or talent level, but will help him with the technical aspects of the game. “Making the extra pass, or the proper way to stretch, really basic stuff,” Adams said. “I think that’s where it will help me become a better player.”
The rising junior has offers from Florida, Miami (Fl.), Baylor, Boston College, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Louisville, Texas and Arizona. Adams said Arizona and Texas recruiting him the hardest at this point. “It’s been real tough,” he said. “You have all these great schools, but you have to pick one at the end of the day. I’m keeping it open, because I want to see what all these schools have to offer. I’m working hard, so I have to see what’s best for me.”