Jalen Poyser did it the hard way. The unsung guard hails from Canada and has blended into the background for most of his prep career, but the sharpshooter stepped forward this past summer to command some national attention.
The Lawson/Oladipo Camp served as Poyser’s springboard to greater acclaim, which he achieved at subsequent camps as well as at the Peach Jam with CIA Bounce. He didn’t require more time than a few weeks to drive up his recruitment, either.
He told me in mid-July that he had received just one scholarship offer, from Idaho, but by fall his workouts had drawn attendance from Kansas State, Oregon, Indiana, St. Bonaventure, Missouri, Rhode Island and UNLV, among others.
He ultimately pledged to the Runnin’ Rebels and will give the program a likely four-year contributor who can stretch teams from long range.
Poyser is an excellent three-point shooter. That’s the primary area he shines now, and that’s likely to remain the case at UNLV. He nailed 41 percent on threes for CIA Bounce in 21 games on the EYBL circuit, getting more playing time and knocking down 6-15 during his five Peach Jam contests.
Though not an elite in terms of explosive leaping ability, Poyser doesn’t lack in that regard, either. He’s actually fairly quick off the dribble, more than defenders expect given that he focuses so much time on threes. And he does jump well with a running start, so occasionally he will toss down an authoritative slam.
He can attack well enough to draw fouls and changes direction impressively in traffic. Poyser won’t blow you away with mid-air acrobatics, but he can score on the move even when contested.
Additionally, at 6-4 he possesses good size for shooting guard and boasts a solid frame; gaining strength for college shouldn’t prove overly difficult. He also deserves credit for playing within the team concept.
The travel circuit poses a challenge to some players fitting that description, because subtle, selfless play simply doesn’t show up on many occasions. There just isn’t enough time to watch every player that closely, given the time constraints and need to watch so many prospects at each event.
So Poyser’s willingness to blend should count as a positive, even if it may suggest that he’s a third or fourth option for the Runnin’ Rebels, rather than a primary scorer.
As suggested above, Poyser’s overall numbers were modest. He averaged just six points per game for CIA Bounce, though he did step that up to nine points per contest at the Peach Jam.
His greatest impediment may be a handle that gets sloppy. He’s prone to some miscues, forced shots when he’s harassed and generally doesn’t slash as effectively as his quickness might allow.
He also strangely shot his free throws poorly, just 59 percent on the EYBL. (Again, though, he hit 8-10 at the Peach Jam as his minutes increased.) His overall game needs more fire, because he doesn’t make enough plays yet as a rebounder and defender. Becoming more rounded will endear him to his future coaches.
Poyser strikes me as the kind of player who might struggle as a freshman, but by his sophomore year he should be amply strong and confident to contribute regularly. The Runnin’ Rebs feature Rashad Vaughn this year at Poyser’s position, but virtually no one expects Vaughn to remain on campus long.
Poyser’s ability to stretch defenses always will enable him to bring value to the lineup, and over time hopefully he’ll add dimensions and address those areas that need improvement. Obviously depending on future roster, he projects as a two-year starter, at minimum, who should prove highly productive over the course of his career.