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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Kevin Durant Skills Academy Notes

Last month, I was on hand for the first (and only) session at the Kevin Durant Skills Academy open to the media. Here are some of the players who stood out:

TJ Warren - The first thing I noticed about jumper was how slow his release was on his jumper and how little elevation he got while shooting it. Still, the North Carolina State forward used his body around the basket as well as anyone and has great touch in the lane.

Jabari Parker - Parker was arguably the best college prospect there, even though he has yet to even play his first game. He went head to head with Kevin Durant in drills and held his own and looked more fluid than advertised. He handles the ball well and is able to handle contact at the rim thanks to his solid frame.

Damyean Dotson - This was a tough setting for Dotson, who normally has the height advantage playing against shooting guards. In this event, Dotson was one of the smaller and weaker plays in attendance so he lost a lot of his advantages. He's a good but not great shooter, and is still working on getting strong enough to attack the basket.

Cleanthony Early - Early was one of the biggest surprises here. He was very aggressive and stout on defense and showed off a lot of versatility. On offense, he showed the ability to shoot long jumpers off the dribble - looking more fluid than expected. In terms of projecting him to the NBA, he will still be fighting an uphill battle trying to prove he is not a tweener.

Alex Poythress - Poythress was easily the most impressive prospect from a physical and athletic standpoint. He's a legit 6-9 with a chiseled frame and elevates at the rim with little effort. He can also shoot the ball well. Just like last year though, Poythress didn't standout in actual games the way he should.

Gary Harris - Harris is bigger and more explosive than expected. He was right at the top of the list when it came to skill level and he's able to hit his jumper from anywhere on the court. His play was very impressive.

Geron Johnson - Johnson measured out great at the camp - sporting a wingspan over 6-8 and a strong 203lb frame. He can shoot off the dribble or the catch, breakdown defenses, and finish strong at the rim. He likes to push the pace and has all the tools to be a great defender. The biggest question mark is his shot selection and whether or not he will be able to play the point in the NBA. Nice prospect.

Glenn Robinson III - Robinson III had one of the best strokes at the camp, but didn't assert himself as much as he could have. He won't be able to take a backseat at Michigan anymore and it will be interesting to see if he's able to step up.

Winston Shepard - Shepard had the height to see over defenses and was aggressive and creative enough to be a playmaker here. He has a bright future as a point forward, but will need to tighten up his handles to truly take advantage of his gifts. He was a little too upright with the ball in his hands and it led to turnovers.