It was an inauspicious text message that informed Penn State point guard Tim Frazier he was invited to the LeBron James Skills Academy.
Frazier was in Vegas over the weekend for the LeBron Skills Academy.
“I was coming out of a class when I got a text message from coach just saying 'congratulations,' and to check my e-mail,” Frazier explained. “I had been waiting to hear back from the camp to see if I got in, because I wouldn’t have heard anything if I didn’t get selected. So I kept waiting, waiting, and when I finally got home to check the e-mail I was really excited.”
A four-day experience in Las Vegas designed for the top collegiate and high school players to further hone their skills, LeBron’s camp has been an annual barometer of talent, only selecting the cream of the crop.
The 6-foot-1, 168-pound Penn State guard was one of 24 NCAA Division I players chosen to participate in the camp, designed to pit top talent against each other while providing world class instruction.
Rooming with fellow senior guard Michael Snaer from Florida State, Frazier and the rest of the campers got right into the thick of things just hours after arriving on Friday. Spending the first half of each five workouts participating in various position-oriented drills, four teams of six were assembled to compete against each other during the second part of each session.
Frazier - who ran with Snaer, Mason Plumlee (Duke), CJ McCollum (Lehigh), LaQuinton Ross (Ohio State) and Doug McDermott (Creighton) - felt his team was able to perform well despite not knowing one another.
“It took the first couple of games to get used to each other, at least for myself as to where to deliver the ball to some of these guys, but after a while, the second day forward, we gelled mostly and started playing well,” Frazier said on Tuesday. “Each game was very competitive, everybody there is a competitor and we all wanted to win. From top to bottom everyone was going hard, there wasn’t any guys not giving their best effort.”
With a large focus placed on changing speeds while with and without the ball, Fraizer gained valuable experience at his second Nike Skills Academy of the summer, after spending four days in Chicago for the Deron Williams Skills Academy, whose list of attendees was comprised of guards.
Though LeBron is busy getting ready for the Summer Olympics, the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player stopped in a couple of times to help out with drills and speak to the campers. After each grueling session, the seasoned college players stuck around and paid it forward, passing along tips to the nation’s top high school ballers.
“We would work out before them and then stick around for the first half of their workout and assist with the drills,” said Frazier, who averaged over 18 points and six assists last season for the Nittany Lions. “Just helping out the drill instructors, and also giving out little bits advice from our Division I experiences.”
After spending the weekend in Vegas going through drills and playing games, Frazier comes back to State College in the midst of summer classes and workouts with the team. The senior leader has accomplished a lot since concluding the 2011-12 season, and these camp experiences have not only made him a better player, but have helped the program as well.
“I think Tim is going to bring back maturity, the experience of being out there, and also the fact that people are finally starting to recognize Penn State from a basketball standpoint,” said head coach Pat Chambers. “The culture here is starting to change, and we develop our players. He can also bring back the work ethic he saw out there, and say ‘this is what we were doing at Deron Williams, this is what was going on at LeBron camp,’ and just help get everyone on the team ready for any situation possible.”
Entering his second season at the helm of the Nittany Lions, Chambers has nothing but praise for his leading scorer. He has coached Frazier from a pass-first point guard, and helped him mature into a bonafide scoring threat, without sacrificing the vision or assists.
“It goes to show you how hard he’s worked,” Chambers praised. “There’s great lessons to be learned here, confidence and work ethic, and really earning the right to be with the top level players in the country. I think Tim sees that, understands it, and knows how hard he has to work from here on out to keep getting better.”
Frazier was only a sophomore when he was thrust into a starting role alongside Talor Battle, helping the Penn State to their first NCAA tournament berth in ten years in 2011. Now, the Houston native is entering his senior year as a two-year starter, with a group of Nittany Lions who are ready to prove they are building something in State College.
“We are doing everything we can this summer, going hard in workouts, just trying to get ready for the season," he said.
“This is my last go-around. I’m not taking anything for granted.”