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July 9, 2008

Lebron James Skills Academy: day three

AKRON, Ohio- Four five-star big men squared off on the third day of the Lebron James Skills Academy. While other players have grabbed the headlines earlier in the camp, Alex Oriakhi made the biggest statement in this game with his inspired play.

On 13-17 shooting from the field, Oriakhi scored a game high 29 points. Along with shooting the ball well from the midrange, Oriakhi used some quick base line spin moves on the baseline to get by DeMarcus Cousins. And Oriakhi's left hand jump hook to the middle is developing into a top notch go-to move. The Connecticut commitment also grabbed seven rebounds while limiting his turnovers.

Cousins' squad captured an 82-77 win but Cousin's just couldn't match the production of Oriakhi despite playing a strong offensive game himself. Cousins scored 16 points on 7-11 shooting, making his only three-point attempt. Only looking interested in defense when guarding Oriakhi's teammate John Henson, who has been the toast of the camp following his day one performance, Cousins has the most complete offensive repertoire of any big man in the class as a scorer and passer.

Playing alongside Cousins, five-star big man Wally Judge had some moments of brilliance scoring and rebounding the ball while also playing strong defense against Henson. Judge, a Kansas State commitment, finished with eight points on 4-10 shooting and grabbed five rebounds.

Henson never got untracked before leaving the game in the third quarter with a mild sprained ankle. He blocked a couple shots early in the game and ended up with four points and five rebounds.

Although the intriguing aspect of the game was the battle between the five-star post players, it was the second half outburst of five-star perimeter player Jordan Hamilton that sealed the victory for his team. On 9-13 shooting Hamilton scored 21 points while also grabbing seven rebounds. It is difficult to come up with another player in this class who can impact a game in as many ways as Hamilton. Besides being able to score anywhere on the court, he defends, rebounds, handles and passes the basketball at a high level. Hamilton is making a strong argument to be included in the top ten of the Rivals150.

Another prospect who has his stock on the rise is sharp shooter John Jenkins. The future Commodore pumped in 22 points for the losing team on 7-12 shooting including 4-8 from behind the arc. He was also productive in other areas of the game, chasing down four rebounds and passing the ball well.

And for the winners Marshawn Powell, who has looked good playing the small forward position at camp, contributed 14 points and three rebounds.

Night session observations

Dante Taylor- The five-star big man had another big game against Cousins, scoring close to 30 points while also rebounding at a high level. Certainly Taylor was the beneficiary of the dazzling passing of John Wall, but Taylor also manufactured points with some nifty interior moves while also knocking down a three-pointer.

John Wall- One of the stories of day three was the shooting of Wall. Although his outside shooting is the main knock on his game, Wall hit five three-pointers in his afternoon game and then hit another three-pointer during the night session.

Phil Pressey- Wall was certainly the best passer at the camp, but Pressey wasn't too far behind. The diminutive 2010 play maker put on a show during the night session with creative pass after creative pass. He also picked opposing ball handlers in the open court at least three times. And for further entertainment value, the sub 6-footer flushed down a break away dunk.

Harrison Barnes- Steady throughout the camp, Barns has clearly solidified himself as an elite 2010 prospect. He strokes the ball with ease from behind the arc and does everything a small forward is supposed to do inside of the arc.

Royce White- The five-star forward doesn't quite shoot it like Barns, but he shares many of the same qualities. He has the strength, athleticism and skill level to make the plays a team needs out of the forward position while also serving as a quality glue guy.

Roscoe Smith- An extremely intriguing prospect, Smith has elite level athleticism and a strong motor. He attacks the rim as a scorer, is an active rebounder and displays a sense of knowing how to play the game. Like most prospects of his ilk, his jumper needs refining and his ball handling tightened up, but he is certainly a five-star talent.

DaShonte Riley- After a less than inspiring spring, perhaps a light has turned on for the near 7-footer with a 7-foot-4 wing span. His effort level and mental focus was much improved here at camp. He did score the ball some, but his main impact was on the defensive end where he proved very difficult to score over.

Recruiting tidbit

Power guard Terrence Boyd, who had a solid camp, stated that Kentucky is a definite leader in his recruitment at this point.


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