The summer just got a lot more interesting for incoming Wisconsin junior Sam Dekker. After a weekend at the Kevin Durant Skills Academy participating in drills and games, Dekker has been invited to the LeBron James Skills Academy, according to UWBadgers.com's Mike Lucas.
The skills academies are part of an ongoing Nike campaign showcasing the best college and high school players to NBA and college scouts. James' camp runs July 9-12 in Las Vegas. For Dekker, competing against top talent (including Durant himself) was a great way to start summer training following the Badgers' Final Four run. As Dekker told Lucas:
"Being around a guy (Durant) like that makes you realize that you have to keep working and keep getting better. If all things work out the way they should, there's a chance I could be playing against him some other time. I just have to keep working hard and keep getting better for our team."
Dekker and the Badgers clearly aren't satisfied with just going to the Final Four -- they want to win it all. Dekker was even watching a replay of the semifinal game against Kentucky while waiting for his plane back to Madison to takeoff.
Dekker took full advantage of his time at the KD camp working to improve his skills. His performance generated mention by several spectators as a stand-out player.
No surprise but Sam Dekker, Rondae Jefferson and Stanley Johnson have been the most impressive players in these 5-on-5s. #KDSkillsAcademy— Josh Stirn (@Josh_Stirn) June 29, 2014
And then there is this gem from coach John Lucas:
Sam Dekker. Sam Dekker. Saaaaaam Dekker. #NikeSkillsAcademy— Coach John Lucas (@CoachJohnLucas1) June 27, 2014
Dekker joined Iowa's Aaron White, Nebraska's Terran Pettway and Penn State's DJ Newbill as Big Ten representatives. From the sound of it, Dekker appreciated the non-basketball aspect of the camp as much as the opportunity to hone his craft against top-level players:
"You normally don't get a chance to see how they are as people outside of basketball, but they were all really good guys....it was nice to get away from that and talk about other things other than basketball,''
Dekker certainly is as skilled as any Badger currently on the roster. Showcasing his game and impressing at high-profile camps will go a long way toward solidifying his NBA future. Additionally, the Badgers gain some program "brand" recognition. After the Final Four run, perhaps the nationwide perception of a slow, plodding brand of Badger basketball will begin to wane. Now all we need is a grainy, bootleg clip of Dekker dunking on LeBron James and the basketball offseason can be complete.