BMOC: 6'10" Big Man Gets Offer, Visits USC

It is no secret that Darrin Horn needs a big man on campus for his system to work at optimal level. He and his staff had exactly that this past weekend, when they had a 6'10" junior shot-blocking and rebounding machine in for an unofficial visit to the Georgia game. The new Gamecock staff got on this player early and are the first to offer him a scholarship. Read inside for all the details.

6-foot-10 Jaleel Roberts received his first scholarship offer from a Division I school, and South Carolina will be heavily contended for the Georgia big man with huge upside. The rebounding and shot blocking machine is just starting to peak, and coaches all over the maps are starting to take notice.

Jaleel Roberts hasn't been playing basketball for that long, but the 2010 three-star recruit from Evans, Ga. has shown a lot of potential that has recruiters starting to take notice.

Simply put, the 6-foot-10 Roberts is full of upside, upside, upside.

"Right now, a lot of (his skill level) is based on potential, but his learning curve is fantastic," Evans High coach Kevin Kenny said. "He's a natural shot blocker and an outstanding rebounder."

Roberts says he only holds the one offer so far, but South Carolina might have serious competition as his potential is beginning to garner national notice.

"Xavier and South Carolina has shown me a lot of love," he said. "I took an unofficial to South Carolina, and they showed me some good hospitality. They really have shown interest in me, but I'm still open."

Roberts said that he recently has received letters from Kentucky and Wake Forest. He also has been in talks with the Alabama coach that wants to see more of the big man.

Most coaches that want an evaluation on the big man that has surged on to the scene out of nowhere will get that opportunity when Roberts attends the 2008 Bob Gibbons Fall Evaluation Clinic at Wake Forest University on Sept. 20-21.

As with every recruit who has a huge upside, there are always things that can be worked on. "He needs to get stronger so he can bang a little bit better," Keen said. "That's probably the biggest thing. He's got some nice post moves, but he needs to get stronger."

Roberts admits that in his first season of high school ball, his season high was probably no higher than 14 points as a sophomore.

"I think I can bring great defense," Roberts said. "I'm not really an offensive player, but I play great defense. I'm a good rebounder, and I love blocking. Blocking is my passion. If I'm not scoring points, I'm going to stop you from scoring points."

But like any player that plans to play at the next level, the big man is constantly working. "I do workouts with the assistant coach (Roy Peak) so I can work on footwork and get to the basket easier," he said. "It also helps me stick with my man (on defense), so it does help.

"I lift every day, and whenever Coach Peak isn't working, I get in the gym and work on some (more) footwork." Roberts plans to work to be a more "effective and explosive" player. Kenny likes the work ethic that he sees from Roberts, but he also likes his tenacity, as well as his ability to lead on and off the court.

"Once he gets on the court, he plays very hard. But off the court, he's a very likeable kid," Kenny said. "He's got a great personality. He's a pleasant kid to talk to."

That intensity brings a competitive nature to Roberts' play. "It's a team game, but I think that I give off a competitive vibe. This is my junior year, and I have to show people what I can do," he said. "I want to get to where I average 14 points a game."

And what else is it that Roberts wants to do? "I really want my defense to stick out. I want to work on my defense as much as I possibly can." Roberts is looking to go somewhere that can help him develop.

He knows that basketball will not always be there, but it's not the only thing that the big man is focused on when it comes to his collegiate decision. "I'm looking for a good basketball program," he said. "I haven't been playing basketball that long, so I'm looking for a program that can catch me up so I can be good as other guys. I want a school with good academics because I want to major in psychology.

"I love people. I think I am a people person. I want to know people's thoughts, and I want to be able to help other people. Sometimes all a person needs is someone to talk to."

According to Roberts, he averages almost a double-double — rebounds and blocks — with his AAU squad Team Power, and that is a key component has really opened the eyes of recruiters.

"My recruiting (has) been a great experience," he said. "I've got to go places that I've never been. I'm just enjoying the ride right now." Roberts attended the South Carolina-Georgia game where he enjoyed another visit to Columbia.

"It was a really good," he said of the game and visit. "Coach Horn came up to me right before the game, and I thanked him for inviting me. When I go to South Carolina, they treat me real good up there. So I'll try to get some more visits."

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