“People think they can run us because we have a 7-foot-3 guy,” Richland High coach Earl Streufert tells CF.C. “And that plays into the way that we play. I think a lot of teams underestimate (Riley’s) ability to get up and down the court.”
Sorn sums up his play simply: “I play bigger but I can run smaller.”
The rising, 235-pound senior recently was offered a scholarship by WSU, he reports. Boise State (where his mom, Jennifer, played hoops) and Pepperdine also are pushing for him, as are other schools who asked him not to disclose their identities.
“The best place for him, I think, is a place that will redshirt him and develop him over a period of time,” Streufert said.
“There are a lot of good coaches around that can do that kind of thing, but I think he'll benefit from going to a place where he will not be expected to be great right away and have a chance to develop,” he added.
Sorn averaged 12.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and close to 4 blocks per game in the just-concluded season. He turned in a record-setting performance in the Class 4A state tournament with a collective 30 blocks and was named honorable mention 4A All-State by the Associated Press.
In Richland’s run-and-gun system that averages nearly 80 points a game, Sorn is anything but a park-in-the-paint, trail-the-action big man.
To survive in the Bombers’ system he’s had to focus on his legs — and that hasn’t always been easy because he was growing so fast early on that he literally couldn’t get his feet under him. As the growth spurts slowed, Sorn’s game elevated.
“It was really hard to keep up with my growing,” Sorn said. “My footwork would be horrible. My whole body wasn't catching up with my height. It was tricky to be coordinated …”
Streufert was undaunted, finding ways to integrate Sorn and his athleticism into the team’s running style despite the growth challenges.
“Everything that I have is from him,” Sorn said of his coach. “The way that he uses me…he knows the right way and the way I play.”
IN COLLEGE, SORN WANTS TO STUDY aerospace engineering. WSU doesn’t offer that major on the Pullman campus but “I think it’s an awesome school … and I know that their engineering department is really good. They just don't have my major, but they are definitely still an option because of their engineering program,” he said.
He also said he likes the WSU coaching staff.
If Sorn were to suit up for the Cougars, he would supplant 1970s standout James Donaldson (7-foot-2) as the tallest WSU basketballer of all time. By our unofficial count, he would be just the ninth 7-footer in program history. Besides Donaldson, the list includes Conor Clifford, Jordan Railey, Justin Garcia, Paulo Rower, Todd Anderson, Ken Mathia and John Tessem.
Streufert believes Sorn will continue to grow into his body over the next one to three years but marvels at the progress the big man has made since he was a sophomore. “About a year ago, we said, ‘We hope we get the college scholarships.’ That's just where he was at. But now, he's getting some nice interest from some nice schools,” the coach said.
Sorn said his emphasis right now is continued improvement with his footwork and sharpened ball-handling and shooting skills.
“The big guys you see in the NCAA and NBA, they all have dribbling skills and all can shoot the ball. That's mainly what I've been working on lately.”
Sorn is believed to be the fourth in-state prospect the Cougars have offered for the 2018 recruiting cycle. The others are J’Raan Brooks of Garfield/Seattle, Emmitt Matthews Jr. of Wilson/Tacoma and Erik Stevenson Timberline/Lacey. Click here for a complete list of prospects in WSU’s 2018 recruiting orbit.