Burke, Hardaway among standouts at LeBron James Skills Academy

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Photo: ESPN

Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke participated in the Kevin Durant Skills Academy and Deron Williams Skills Academy in early June. Both players were impressive enough in their respective 20-man positional groups to earn an invitation to the LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas. LeBron’s camp features the top 20 players, regardless of position, from the other Nike Skills Academies.

The group gathered in Vegas featured a pair of consensus All-Americans from a year ago in Doug McDermott and Isaiah Canaan as well as two other Big Ten players, Ohio State’s LaQuinton Ross and Penn State’s Tim Frazier. The full roster with measured heights, weights and wingspans can be found here.

In an event open to the media and NBA scouts, both Burke and Hardaway impressed once more, a theme of hte summer, drawing praise as some of the top college standouts in attendance.

ProBasketballDraft.com was in attendance at the event and tabbed Michigan’s duo among the group’s best:

Among the standouts were Michigan PG Trey Burke and SG Tim Hardaway Jr., Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum, Murray State PG Isaiah Canaan, North Texas forward Tony Mitchell, and UNLV’s Mike Moser. All five players showed improved skills from the previous season and Burke in particular looked outstanding.

Pro Basketball Draft rattled off several lists of superlatives as well. Both Burke and Hardaway were picked among the top three slashers (Burke 1, Hardaway 2) while Burke also received praise as the second best mid-range shooter in attendance.

Hoopniks.com called Burke “arguably the top lead guard in attendance” among college players:

Trey Burke was arguably the top lead guard in attendance. He showed efficient shot-making, distributed the basketball and had an all-around game. He should be one of the elite point guards in college basketball next season as he continues to progress and impress with his skill level.

We exchanged e-mails with Raphielle Johnson (of NBE Sports and College Basketball Talk) and James Kerti (PremierBall.com), both of whom were in attendance in Las Vegas, to gather more feedback on the Michigan duo’s performance.

“[Burke] controlled the basketball well over the weekend and demonstrated good body control,” Kerti said. “He was patient with the ball and facilitated offense.”

Burke drew Johnson’s eye as well in a number of elements, not just the pick-and-roll or any specific drills individually. Where Burke truly separated himself was with his jumpshot, something that Johnson reported every “help defender was aware of during pick-and-roll situations”.

Johnson pointed out that Hardaway’s weekend was “a bit quiet in comparison [to Burke’s]” but added that Hardaway shot the ball very well.

“Hardaway’s shot was solid. He never really got hot or cold from my view,” Johnson said. “But he wasn’t as spotty as he was last season, and that’s a positive.”

Kerti emphasized Hardaway’s length and smooth game, noting that the Michigan junior did a great job defensively “disrupting ball handlers and getting in passing lanes” during scrimmage action.

WolverineNation’s Chantel Jennings spoke to both Burke and Hardaway about their camp experience and both players hit the requisite offseason points: get others involved, rebounding and growing as a team.

“My focus is to bring more to the team than just scoring,” Burke said. “I am trying to get everyone involved and making others around me better. Having the feel of scoring and running the point is one of the biggest things that I must learn. I am working on that in every session here at camp.”

Prep prospects impress

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A pair of top Michigan recruiting targets – 2014 Devin Booker and 2013 Reggie Cameron – were in attendance with the high school group, which featured roughly 80 players.

As seems to be the case at every national event, Booker received praise from at least one national scout in attendance. ESPN raved about Booker’s showing on day two and pointed out his strong play once again on day threel:

Booker is a smooth wing who can really shoot, has improved off the dribble and has begun showing true toughness on the court. He is good now, but still shows a nice upside. Despite playing with older players, Booker has not been afraid or hesitant to be aggressive and assertive, which are traits of a true star in the making.

Kerti also shared his opinions on both Booker and Cameron:

Devin Booker has a quick release on his outside shot, which is particularly effective off the catch. Though he’s not a breakdown player, he has a solid handle.

Reggie Cameron has a good jump shot from midrange and out to beyond the arc. His instincts and feel for the game make him an asset to his team, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

Tweetable

Of course with so many national scouts tucked away in a Las Vegas gym, there was plenty of sideline tweeting taking place. Here are some of the highlights featuring Michigan players and recruits.

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