Last basketball season, while covering an Evans/Greenbrier matchup, I caught a glimpse of a kid who really intrigued me.
The game was great. It came down to the wire, as most games in this rivalry do, and there were some terrific performances.
However, the player who intrigued me did not score a single point the entire game. As a matter of fact, if you went to get a bag of popcorn at the wrong time, you might have missed him getting on the floor at all. He played only 2 minutes.
So why does a guy who prides himself on his knowledge of the game of basketball come away from a game talking about a kid who barely broke a sweat in his very limited time on the floor?
Well, the kid I am talking about is Jaleel Roberts, and he stands a hair above 6-foot-8. I was taken aback by the height of a kid who was just a sophomore. Not to take anything away from the kids who played their heart out that night, but you can't teach 6-8.
Granted, Roberts was about as far from a finished product as you can get. But take a player who is that tall, with long arms that were made for shot blocking, and he is a big piece of clay just waiting to be molded.
I asked Evans coach Kevin Kenny after the game about Roberts, and he had very good things to say.
While Roberts was rail-thin and extremely raw and inexperienced, Kenny thought at that time that Roberts had a chance to be a terrific player once he increased his upper body strength and earned some much-needed floor time and experience.
Well, apparently Kenny is not the only one who likes this kid's potential. Back in March, as the summer AAU circuit got underway, Roberts and his Team Power teammates traveled to Atlanta for the Southern Shootout. This event is loaded with talent year after year, and 2008 was no exception.
Hundreds of college prospects battled like warriors over the course of the event. However, when Rivals.com basketball recruiting expert Justin Young laid eyes on Roberts, he was frantically trying to find out more about the 15-year-old.
Roberts showed off his shot-blocking ability. He also seems to have added some weight since last season. While he has an incredible amount of potential, he still has a long way to go on his basketball journey.
In addition to Young's reaction to the skyscraper, college coaches took notice, too. Roberts immediately started getting looks from colleges all across the country, including a few big-time programs. None of the schools has given Roberts an official scholarship offer, but keep in mind Roberts is part of the 2010 graduating class. He still has two years at Evans to hone his craft.
On another recruiting Web site, www.scout.com, Roberts is listed as one of the top 16 junior basketball players in the state of Georgia. The inclusion on the various recruiting sites is based on his loads of potential, but it still should give the young man a huge confidence boost heading into his junior season.
Roberts is listed at 6-10, 190 pounds. To that, I would say, "One out of two ain't bad."
He could have easily have shot up a couple of inches in a very short period of time. However, 190 is a pretty big stretch. I would guess he is closer to 170 pounds.
Roberts has received interest from Clemson, Georgia, Marquette, South Carolina and Xavier.
Not bad for a kid who has yet to start his first high school game.
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