NEW YORK — Antonio Blakeney is one of the quicker players at the Jordan Brand Classic and at times during Thursday’s practices, he’s wearing his teammates out.
After one particularly vicious dunk by the 6-4, 177-pound shooting guard from Oak Ridge (Orlando), players and media scatter to avoid the ball after it ricochets off the court.
“I picked up my game a little bit, but I respect the game, so every time I step between those lines, I’m going to play the best I can,” Blakeney said. “Of course, in here, I want to show I’m the best guard, so every guard who has a name, I’m going at him.”
Blakeney says he’s part of a group of players at the Jordan Brand Classic who have taken to calling themselves the Six Deep, including: Malik Newman; Isaiah Briscoe; Dwayne Bacon; Eric Davis; and Dedric Lawson.
“Off the court, we’re friends, we’re cool,” Blakeney said. “On the court, we’re like worst enemies. We go at each other like no other.”
Though he’s been committed to LSU since Jan. 2, he said he plans to make it official by signing with the Tigers Friday night after the Jordan Brand Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Another LSU signee, Ben Simmons, was named to the game but chose to take a break after playing in the McDonald’s All American Game in Chicago, the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals in New York and the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore., in successive weeks.
“We talk all the time and I know Ben pretty much needed to take a break,” Blakeney said. “I support his decision, but me, I would have been here. I don’t care. I’ll play any time I get a chance to compete.”
West Coach Kevin Boyle of Montverde (Fla.) Academy said that Blakeney is very coachable.
“He wants to be taught,” Boyle said. “He wants to pick up things. He’s asking questions, which is more unusual than usual at these events. If he can develop into a point guard. … He’s a great shooter, but he needs to blend when to shoot it and when to make the other guys on the court better. That may come easier playing with guys like Ben (Simmons) and the players they have coming back. (Blakeney) is one of the best shooters in the country when he has space.”