Class of 2011: Johnny O'Bryant

Junior-to-be Johnny O'Bryant of Cleveland (MS) East Side High School and AAU powerhouse Jackson Tigers is one of the top big men in the class of 2011.

"I started playing basketball about two years ago," said the 6-10, 228-pounder. "I was a football player, then I started playing basketball about two years ago and fell in love with it."

His potential was obvious even back then.

"My coaches told me that I had potential," said the 15-year-old.

Jackson Tigers AAU coach Thandi Wade, who has coached Johnny O'Bryant for the past two years, explains in detail Johnny's immense potential.

"Johnny is a kid with tremendous athleticism and length with a game that is developing," said Thandi. "He's a pretty good ball-handler, got a nice shot, he runs the floor extremely well, he's a relentless rebounder. He's just a very aggressive player. I think Johnny has the potential to be a top-shelp, top-10 type player in his class. His potential is unlimited."

Johnny has a clear understanding of his strengths and also his weaknesses.

"I think I have good footwork, I'm good off the dribble and I'm a good ball-handler," said Johnny, who is currently ranked the 3rd best center in the class of 2011 by "As far as athleticism, I think I'm the top (big man) in the country. But I still need to improve a lot on everything. I'm not great at anything."

He's been with the Jackson Tigers for the past two years. And it's been an exciting time for the youngster, especially the travelling and who he is playing alongside of - Brandon High School junior-to-be Tyler Adams.

"When I first started it was exciting because I saw some places that I had never seen before," said Johnny. "When we are traveling we are playing all the time, but I never get tired of playing basketball."

Or playing with the 6-9, 250-pound Adams.

"When I got here (with the Jackson Tigers) two years ago he was already here," said Johnny, who has accepted an invitation to try out for the USA 16U team, a team that will play in Argentina this summer. "It's good to play with somebody like him because he makes you better, I make him better. We are both competitors, want to win and go as hard at everything that we do. We kind of jell off of each other."

While they are both big guys, they have their differences.

"Compared to Tyler, I'm probably a better ball-handler and a better shooter," said Johnny.

And a number of college coaches have taken notice of his play.

"I'm receiving interest from North Carolina, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Syracuse, USC," said Johnny.

And he's received numerous offers as well.

"The offers that I have received are USC, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Baylor ... that's about it," said Johnny.

As of now, no one school is leading the group.

"Just having top D-I schools coming after me is exciting," said Johnny. "And I think all of them are good, so it would be hard to choose."

Although it's early in the recruiting process, he has thoughts about what he is looking for in a college.

"What I'm looking for in a school is one that will make me better, push me to the next level," said Johnny.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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