Louisville Trinity big man Raymond Spalding was one of the top Xavier targets playing at the Nike EYBL event in Hampton, Virginia last weekend. Unfortunately an injury cut his weekend short, but he did play in two games on Saturday and provided an update on his recruitment afterward.
After playing all four games the weekend before in Dallas, he re-aggravated a nagging ankle injury in the second game on Saturday that has limited him to just six games so far this spring.
In those six contests, he's averaging 8.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. His first game in Dallas was his best as he scored nine points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked three shots. In two viewings on Saturday in Hampton, he had 11 points and two rebounds in the first, and seven points, one rebound and three blocks in the second.
Despite only being able to play in half of the team's games so far, Spalding, ranked No. 75 in Scout's 2015 rankings, has still had an enjoyable spring. His Kentucky Travelers' Basketball Club squad is 6-6 on the year with some big wins already to its credit, and he says the group of players have grown closer as a team with several guys being in their second year together.
"We're a better team this year, and we've gotten more cohesive with another year together," Spalding said.
In addition to enjoying the time with his teammates, he's had a lot of interest come his way from college coaches.
"It's very exciting. I'm talking a lot with Xavier, Indiana, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Clemson, Vanderbilt and Louisville," he said. "The schools that have been standing out recently are Indiana, Xavier, Clemson and Vanderbilt."
He added that he has a strong relationship with the Musketeers' coaching staff, "I talk to them every day when I'm not playing ball. They're great guys and they always keep me tuned in to Xavier basketball."
The wealth of interest coming from college coaches is based on the physical tools and immense upside that Spalding possesses, and not the player that he is now. When scouting big men, having some vision and foresight is required. At a legit 6-9, 207 pounds, Spalding's rocket packs on his feet that allow him to explode off the floor from a flat-footed stance and play above the rim are a special tool that already allows him to make an impact. He also has exceptional feet and moves laterally as well as any big in the nation, which is especially intriguing to Xavier's staff with the way they like to defend ball screens.
Offensively, he's still a work in progress in terms of finding his game. He has soft touch, range out to the perimeter, good hands and coordination, so in addition to his athleticism there are tools to work with, but he hasn't figured out how to package those into a go-to skill-set. During the high school season he played as a back to the basket post player in Trinity's slow, half court offense, but on the AAU circuit he roams the court more as a face-up four. This spring and summer he's hoping to show coaches that he's more comfortable as a slasher and shooter on offense, rather than a post player.
"I want to show them that I'm shooting the ball better, and I'm as good or better of an outside player as I am an inside player," said Spalding.
The four-star recruit isn't quite sure when he'll be making a decision on his future college just yet, but his wishlist for what he wants in his future school is pretty simple.
"Great coaches, great group of basketball players and a great fanbase."