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July 7, 2013

Johnson, Okonoboh show mature games

MORE: Class of 2015 rankings: Change at the top

LAS VEGAS -- When it comes to shoe company-sponsored events, Nike's LeBron James Skills Academy has emerged as the king of the camps. Saturday evening, the 2013 edition of camp got off to a solid start. Top 10 small forward Stanley Johnson continued his great summer, while Goodluck Okonoboh was making opponents work for buckets around the basket.

Okonoboh and Johnson play grown-man basketball

The first day of the LBJ Skills Academy featured lots of skill work and a little bit of scrimmaging late. Standing out in each part of the workout because of how physically and aggressively they play were the nation's No. 7 player, Johnson, and No. 32, Okonoboh.

An athletic and tough 6-foot-10 center, Okonoboh checks in at a surprisingly lean 213 pounds. However, he plays much stronger than that and wasn't backing down from anybody on Saturday. During two-on-two big man drills, he was all over the place, helping to block shots, blocking shots straight up and scoring with power around the rim.

"I think that's just my competitive nature," Okonoboh told Rivals.com "I think it was LeBron who said it yesterday that somebody scoring on you was kind of like taking your manhood. So I look at it like that. "

Unlike a lot of big men who want to talk about improving their faceup games, Okonoboh is more concerned with his low-post game.

"My low-post game, my offensive game is coming along," Okonoboh said about what he's been working on. "I feel like my faceup is way ahead of my back-to-the-basket game, and I need to catch that up. With my faceup game, I can use my quickness to go by other big guys."

Okonoboh was reluctant to list schools when asked who is coming at him the hardest. He showed Rivals.com his phone that is being flooded with text messages, and he said his father and coaches are handling his recruitment. He mentioned Kentucky, Duke, Indiana, Cincinnati and Connecticut among those recruiting him. He has not set visits and doesn't seem to be in a rush to end his recruitment.

At this point, there's really not much more to be written about the approach of Johnson. The 6-foot-7 small forward at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei is a worker. He doesn't waste dribbles, he is becoming more and more dangerous as a jump shooter, and he is a top-flight defender and underrated passer.

The news with Johnson is that he has decided to take official visits to Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky and Oregon. UCLA and USC remain under consideration, and Johnson has dates set for both Wildcats and the Gators. He'll trip to Arizona for its Red and Blue game, check out Kentucky for its Big Blue Madness and visit Florida the weekend of the Georgia game.

Dates for visits to see the Ducks and Jayhawks will be locked in soon, and Johnson says he has been talking to five-star power forward Cliff Alexander about tripping to Lawrence at the same time.

Jaylen Johnson showing more game

During the latest update to the Rivals150, 6-foot-9 power forward Jaylen Johnson from Ypsilanti (Mich.) High made a sizeable jump. The lean and athletic insider moved up to No. 64 from No. 97, and he backed up that jump on Saturday.

Johnson is an excellent rebounder, and he moves well and gets off the floor quickly. He weighs only around 210 pounds, but his frame is built to carry more weight and he's more skilled than he's been given credit for. In particular, Johnson was throwing impressive passes for a guy his size.

Recently, Michigan State offered him a scholarship. He said Tom Izzo's approach made an impression on him.

"He told me that he didn't have to have me," Johnson said. "He basically said they will be successful whether they get me or not but that they want me."

Johnson said Oregon, Iowa State, USC and Louisville are up there with the Spartans when it comes to being involved in his recruitment. Michigan is still involved but hasn't offered, and Johnson also mentioned N.C. State, Kansas, Texas, TCU, VCU and Georgetown as having varied levels of interest.

Johnson said he'll sit down with his mother and others close to him after the summer and that he would like to take all five visits.

Saturday notes from LeBron

A new member of the Rivals150, Trey Kell is a rock-solid offensive player. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard isn't an overwhelming athlete, but his skill level is good and so is his feel for the game. He says he would like to have a decision by late September or early October and that San Diego State, Gonzaga, Oregon and UC Irvine are recruiting him the most aggressively.

Myles Turner continues to impress with his development. With each passing week, the 6-foot-10 Texan looks more confident on the offensive end and more fluid in his movement on both ends of the floor. Turner's touch and ability to alter shots shine through, and he's brimming with confidence.

Robert Johnson was among those making his debut in the 2014 Rivals150 recently. His inclusion sure looked like a good decision on Saturday. A four-star prospect, Johnson may be more of a natural two guard than a point but he can play either spot. What he does best, though, is score the basketball. After settling for jumpers earlier in the spring, he's mixing things up with the drive and is cementing himself as a high-major prospect.

Top five big men in the class of 2015 Ivan Rabb and Diamond Stone were good as well. They didn't get a chance to re-create their classic head-to-head duel from 2012's LeBron camp, but they were making noise. Rabb is lean, but he is quick and he is starting to develop nicely on the offensive end. Stone isn't a highlight-reel athlete, but he is big and smart and can score with his back to the basket.

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