Former North Mecklenburg High star Jamie Skeen just wants to come home.
Ideally that would be playing for the Charlotte Bobcats, who are giving him a summer-league tryout. But anywhere stateside would be fine, too.
“It’s a big opportunity for me because I’ve been playing overseas, in Israel,” said Skeen, two years removed from a Final Four appearance with Virginia Commonwealth.
“I was there for eight months, 14 hours away by plane from my family. I’m a big family guy. I would love to be over here.”
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At 6-foot-9, Skeen is a combo forward – tall enough to play power forward and with some shooting range to play small forward.
How is he different from the end of his college career?
“It’s more passion for me,” said Skeen, after the initial Bobcats practice Sunday night, in preparation for Las Vegas Summer League. “If I see a loose ball, I’ll be diving on it – anything I can do to impress these coaches.
“To make this team, I’d do anything.”
New Bobcats coach Steve Clifford can relate. He worked his way up over a decade in the NBA from advance scout for the New York Knicks to head coach of the Bobcats. He’s seen so many guys with Skeen’s desire, and not all of them are rewarded.
“The summer and training camp are the same in that there are so many really talented players, committed to the game, who don’t always get a chance,” said Clifford.
“I’m not saying (Skeen) won’t, But some guys work so hard and never make it.”
Skeen says his shooting range allows him to play either forward spot, although he must improve his ballhandling to have a future primarily as a small forward.
That range has been valuable in Israel where the rules are slightly different, making it particularly difficult to drive to the rim or operate offensively in the post.
“In Israel, the game is so different from the U.S.” Skeen said. “(The defense) is packed in and there’s no three seconds. If you can’t shoot it, it’s going to be pretty hard to get to the basket. Unless you’re LeBron James, and there are no LeBron Jameses over there.”