How he got here
Almost casually. That’s how Jay Huff strode from modest in-state appreciation to a top-100 national ranking within the span of about six months.
A 6-10 forward at Durham (N.C.) Voyager, Huff first seized my attention at a Phenom Hoops event last fall. His skill level was easily apparent, and I determined then that an in-season viewing would be in order.
|Huff is a true, indisputable stretch four|
College coaches haven’t delayed, either. Virginia, Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Clemson and others have trekked out to Voyager this season to watch Huff, and they keep coming back. Though his offer list remains small, expect that to change in a big way by next fall’s signing period.
Voyager plays in the state’s tiniest division, so rarely will a 6-10 athlete face opponents at all his size. That’s why coaches and scouts alike piled into the gym earlier this month when talented, well-coached Raleigh (N.C.) Ravenscroft rolled into town.
Huff led his team to a resounding win despite not shooting well, demonstrating his all-around impact on the game in the process.
His skill level and emerging confidence have enabled him to crack the mainstream consciousness despite lacking the usual grassroots push at an early age.
To 2015. …
This is the part that’s tricky. Huff doesn’t know with whom or even if he’ll compete on the travel circuit. That’s understandable from his point of view given that by far his greatest need is strength development, which he could best gain at home.
Moreover, he clearly holds significant high-major interest and may believe that he doesn’t need to grab exposure as much as many other players. Ultimately, however, don’t be surprised if he surfaces at least occasionally on the road. Chances are, a more national coaching audience — observing him while matched against other high-major big men — would deliver even greater interest and perhaps compel more teams to issue quicker offers.
Huff’s primary skill is easy enough to spot and doesn’t require great competition. He’s an excellent perimeter shooter for a big man, and on top of that he handles well, is a solid passer and does score on some post-ups. His jump shot is smooth, if a little slow on the release, but his release and follow through don’t look like that of the average big guy.
Meanwhile, he possesses top-shelf defensive timing and blocks more than his fair of shots for that reason, along with above-average length at 6-10. Though not explosive, he does run well and appeared a tad quicker off the floor this month than he did last fall. As he matures and gains strength, he might enjoy even more of an athleticism uptick.
Whether he participates in travel basketball or he doesn’t, Huff will continue to be a consistent priority in our coverage as well as a target for a growing number of high-major coaches. The returns may be years away — conceivably, he may need to redshirt as a freshman to gain weight — but when this forecast does arrive, opponents may end up running for cover.