Gourlay easing into AAU hoops season

John Gourlay, a Subiaco Academy star and Arkansas' top junior center, takes it easy while rehabbing a shoulder injury this weekend at the AAO Top 25 in Fayetteville with plans to join the Arkansas Wings for AAU events in near future.

Subiaco Academy junior center John Gourlay fully expected to be making a splash this weekend at the Boo Williams Invitational with his Arkansas Wings AAU squad.

Instead a shoulder injury had the 6-11 1/2, 250-pound big man taking it easy Friday and Saturday while going through the Arkansas Athletes Outreach Top 25 Camp in Fayetteville instead of the prestigious AAU event in Richmond, Va.

"I separated my shoulder and it's getting better, but I didn't think I was ready to put it up against the competition I would face there," Gourlay said. "I wanted to get some action in here, try to stay in shape a little bit, but I am definitely not 100 percent yet."

Gourlay, a native of Orange County, Calif., who came to Subiaco as a 6-3 ninth grader, has been told by a doctor that he will grow from one to three more inches.

"I would definitely like to grow at least another half-inch so I can be a legitimate seven-footer instead of just 6-11 1/2," Gourlay said. "Growing a little bit more and working on my speed, strength and jumping ability are my biggest goals this summer."

Gourlay, who averaged 17 points, 8.5 points, 4 blocks and 2 assists per game, is hearing from several top-flight NCAA schools.

"Recruiting is going good," Gourlay said. "I keep getting more and more letters and calls to my coach with Illinois and Oklahoma State sending the most. I am going to take an unofficial visit to Illinois in couple of weeks and then try to get to Oklahoma State this summer as well."

Arkansas has also expressed interest, but not as much as the aforementioned pair of schools recently according to Gourlay.

"They have sent me a couple of letters and I look forward to hearing from them some more if they are really interested in me," Gourlay said. "We'll just have to see if I am in their plans. They do have a lot of big guys coming up there already."

While still hoping for an invite to either the prestigious Nike, adidas or Reebok , Gourlay is definitely going to attend the Mid-Amercia Camp in Kansas City.

"I am not really sure if I will be going to any of those other ones, but I hope for the opportunity to do so," Gourlay said. "I just want to do what ever it takes to become the best player I can."

He has certainly become a much better player with improved work habits since he first showed up at Subiaco Academy.

"The first time I saw him he was 6-foot-3 ninth grader and had to be the laziest person I have ever seen in my life," Subiaco head coach Tim Tencleve said. "Obviously God had everything to do with growing, but he has learned to work and that's why he has become a special player."

The 17-and-under Wings squad, which will be in Las Vegas next weekend and then head to the Kingwood Classic ion April 23-25, also features 6-9 McGehee forward Michael Washington, 6-3 Pulaski Oak Grove shooting guard Robert Johnson and Clarksville point guard York Sims.

"I think it is a good group and I feel good about our chances in these events this summer," Gourlay said. "I know that the competition will make me a better player and I am looking forward to that."

The young Subiaco squad - which did not feature a senior - breezed through the district and regional tournaments, but then got blitzed by eventual Class AAA runner-up Osceola 66-48 in the opening round to end a 17-game winning streak.

"You could tell we were scared," Gourlay said of his team that finished 22-8. "We have a lot of young players that had never been in a situation like that and it was a new experience for all of us. I think next year it will be a totally different story. We have everybody coming back."

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