Skip to content

Top 15 recruit Antonio Blakeney has made the ‘jump’ — literally — to elite status

Jul 23, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT

source:

Nike

RELATED: Peach Jam Takeaways Part IPart II | UAA Finals takeaways

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — Antonio Blakeney has been a star in the state of Florida for a couple of years now, having averaged 24.8 points as a sophomore that earned first-team all-state honors. He’s been a relevant name on the recruiting trail for quite some time as well, having latched on with the Amare Stoudamire-backed Each 1 Teach 1 AAU program.

During the summer after his sophomore season, Blakeney made enough of a name for himself during the summer that he was listed as a four-star recruit by Rivals, and although he was unable to crack their top 50 at the time, he was still getting recruiting attention from a number of high-profile programs from around the southeast.

Blakeney found himself slowly creeping up the rankings throughout his junior season, but it wasn’t until May that he went from being another really good basketball player to the kind of prospect that everyone needs to pay attention. And it was one moment, captured on video, that made the statement for him:

MORE: Live Period Superlatives Week one | Week two

I’ll be honest: saying that one dunk during one game at an event in Georgia that wasn’t even during a live period changed the course of a players recruitment is ridiculous, and that’s not the point that I’m trying to make here. Blakeney plays on the same AAU team as Ben Simmons, the No. 1 player in the country, as well as Ohio State-bound Daniel Giddens, top 150 recruit Alex Owens and 7-foot-5 Tacko Fall. He was going to be seen this summer. Those offers were going to roll in.

The reason that dunk was significant is that it was a definitive statement that Blakeney’s game was changing.

It’s never been a secret that Blakeney, a 6-foot-3 scoring guard, is able to get buckets with the best of them. He’s always been a natural scorer, a kid that can light it up from beyond the arc and that can break down a defender one-on-one. “I’ve always been able to score the ball,” Blakeney told NBCSports at the Peach Jam last week, but he hasn’t always been able to jump like that. He’s turned into the kind of next-level athlete that has a chance to play at the next level and beyond, and I’m not the only one that has noticed.

Louisville has long considered Blakeney a top priority, as he spent quite a bit of time playing in front of head coach Rick Pitino this July and has already had an unofficial visit to the campus. He’d be a nice fit in Louisville’s back court, but he’s far from a lock to wind up there as programs like Florida, Kansas and North Carolina, among many others are also in contention.

Two weeks ago, however, Blakeney got the biggest of the big fish on his trail, as John Calipari offered him a scholarship to Kentucky.

“They don’t offer everybody,” Blakeney said. “They’ve only offered a couple other people. I don’t really think about it at all, [but] Kentucky only recruits pros, so if they offer me, it means they think I’m a pro.”

The next step for Blakeney is to continue to improve his efficiency with the ball in his hands. As he put it, “to score with less shots.” Playing on a team that included quite a bit of talent, Blakeney finished fifth at the Peach Jam in scoring, averaging 20.8 points, but he had a tendency to settle for some tough shots. He shot just 9-for-38 from beyond the arc in his six games in North Augusta, but he did show off a much-improved mid-range game. He made floaters and pull-ups, even drilling a few step-back jumpers.

“I think it was just a tightening my game change,” said of his recent improvement. “My game got better, my handles got tighter, my shot got better. I just got better. The shots I’m taking are going in.”

The good news for the teams recruiting him is that Blakeney hasn’t reached his ceiling yet. His development over the last year is evidence that he’s been in the gym, working on his game, and with the strides he can still make in terms of shot selection and three-point consistency, it’s no wonder the top programs in the country are on his trail.

Latest Posts
  1. Wyoming guard Trey Washington III ‘day-to-day’ with knee injury

    Sep 4, 2015, 4:03 PM EDT

    Wyoming v UNLV Getty Images

    Washington sat out all of last season due to a lingering foot injury.

  2. Reigning national champions to visit White House Tuesday

    Sep 4, 2015, 3:21 PM EDT

    Mike Krzyzewski AP

    Mike Krzyzewski will be taking a national title team to the Oval Office for the fifth time in his career.

  3. Former Indiana forward’s marijuana possession citation dropped

    Sep 4, 2015, 12:39 PM EDT

    Landon Atterberry Devin Davis AP

    Devin Davis has since enrolled at Odessa JC in Texas.

  4. Former New Mexico guard signs with Australian Football League franchise

    Sep 4, 2015, 9:40 AM EDT

    Hugh Greenwood AP

    Greenwood is the second former college basketball player to sign with an AFL franchise in the last week.

  5. Gonzaga once again puts together a formidable non-conference schedule

    Sep 3, 2015, 9:05 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Bulldogs are guaranteed games against five NCAA tournament teams and could play more based upon what happens in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

  6. Virginia announces addition of four-star forward, will redshirt

    Sep 3, 2015, 7:56 PM EDT

    mamadi diakite

    Virginia is trying to figure out the academic situation of Mamadi Diakite, who might enroll in 2015.

  7. Ongoing investigation results in Minnesota athletics administrator taking leave of absence

    Sep 3, 2015, 6:51 PM EDT

    University of Minnesota University of Minnesota

    This comes less than a month after AD Norwood Teague stepped down for his own alleged sexual misconduct.

  8. Shin issue to sideline Mississippi State freshman forward two months

    Sep 3, 2015, 5:22 PM EDT

    Ben Howland AP

    Joe Struggs, who didn’t enroll until last month, has been dealing with issues with both of his shins.

  9. Throwback Thursday: Juan Dixon and company win Maryland’s lone national title

    Sep 3, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Juan Dixon #3 of the University of Maryland holds the ball Getty Images

    This year’s Terrapins will look to match what Dixon, Steve Blake and company accomplished just over 13 years ago.

  10. Mixtape of Rivals150 Class of 2016 guard Jalen Johnson (VIDEO)

    Sep 3, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    jalen johnson

    Jalen Johnson is one of the best in-game dunkers in the Class of 2016.

  11. Atlantic 10 releases full conference schedule

    Sep 3, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT

    Bob McKillop AP

    The Atlantic 10 released its full conference schedule. The league has 33 games on NBCSN this season.

  12. Michigan State sees remodeled practice facility after returning from Italy (VIDEO)

    Sep 3, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Tom Izzo, Alvin Ellis III AP

    Michigan State saw the newly-renovated practice facility when they arrived back from a trip to Italy.

  13. Four-star power forward/center verbally commits to North Carolina

    Sep 2, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT

    Roy Williams AP

    With two seniors in their current front court, adding a big man helps North Carolina moving forward.

  14. St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin throws out first pitch at Mets game (VIDEO)

    Sep 2, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Mullin threw out the first pitch at a Yankees game back in late-May.

  15. Big East announces program geared towards helping freshmen transition to college

    Sep 2, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

    BigEastLogo

    The men’s basketball freshmen will meet in New York City September 12 & 13.

  16. ACC releases its full conference schedule

    Sep 2, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    Mike Brey AP

    The ACC is loaded this year, which will make for a fun conference schedule.

  17. Four-star Class of 2016 guard sets five official visits

    Sep 2, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    tyson carter

    Mississippi guard Tyson Carter is one of the biggest stock risers of July.

  18. Two players in Arkansas forgery case plead not guilty

    Sep 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    Marcus Paige, Anton Beard AP

    Two in the Arkansas forgery case pleaded not guilty.