Marquese Chriss a Name to Watch for 2015

LAS VEGAS - Pleasant Grove High School in Elk Grove, Calif. is home to the footballing Armstead brothers Armond and Arik, but Marquese Chriss plans on putting Pleasant Grove on the map for hoops. He's the next best thing since former Washington State hooper Xavier Thames, and the Cougars' cross-state rivals have already put in their bid for the 2015 standout.

"My doctor said I could grow a few more inches," the 6-9, 200-pound Chriss told at the Las Vegas Classic at Spring Valley High School. Chriss plays for NorCal Wildcats Elite, who didn't make it out of pool play in the tournament, won by Seattle Rotary over another Northern California team, the Oakland Soldiers Elite. "I'm not a real big or a guard; I'm kind of in-between, in the forward area. I'm not a post-up kind of guy. I can run and I'm athletic and I can jump."

Having just turned 16 in the beginning of the month, Chriss is still very much in the process of learning about himself on and off the court. "A lot of my coaches say I have to work on imposing myself," he said. "My emotions may get a little out of hand sometimes, but I try to keep it from getting out of hand. I try to pass more than take more shots now because if I don't make a shot I can get someone else the ball and let them get into the game. I just try and play fast; I try and run."

When asked about his strengths and weaknesses, Chriss said his strength is his athleticism and weakness right now is dribbling. And as athletic as he is right now, Chriss' body will transform itself once he decides to lift. "I actually haven't lifted weights yet," he said. "I've got to start at my school."

Chriss updated his current recruiting status. "I've talked to a lot of schools," he said. "I talked to Washington the other night. I've talked to San Diego State and San Jose State, Utah, Utah State, Boise State…only Washington, Boise State and Northern Arizona have given me an official offer."

An early offer to be sure, but the Huskies are putting their best foot forward with Lorenzo Romar and T.J. Otzelberger on the case. "He's a real nice guy," Chriss said of Romar. "He's real down to earth and easy to talk to. I was on the phone with him for 20-25 minutes, just talking about the (electrical) engineering classes and basketball."

You read that right; Chriss has a knack for the classroom too. "A lot of schools I've talked to about their engineering classes, because that's what I want to do when I go to college," he said. "If I don't play basketball, that's what I want to do as a career."

Chriss has a couple of connections to Washington's program. "There's a kid I played four times in our league games - Darin Johnson - and he used to live out in Sacramento, so I know him," he said of the 2013 UW signee. "And my stepdad - his family lives in Seattle."

A quick scouting report on the future Husky? "He's real athletic," Chriss said of Johnson. "You just think he can jump, but he can shoot too."

Was Chriss surprised by the early recruiting attention and subsequent offers? "I was grateful for it, but I kind of wanted it so I was just waiting for it," he said. "So it wasn't really a surprise because I was ready for it."

Clearly a student of the game, Chriss knows that if he keeps his head down and continues to work hard, more offers will come. That's why his focus during the AAU tournaments in on the court instead of who is watching him up in the stands.

"I don't really look that way, I just try and focus on the game," he said. "I try to not get distracted."

The Huskies have done their best to make some early headway with Chriss, who is just getting started with the recruiting process. "I talked to Washington about taking a trip up there in January," he said. "They want me to try and get up there earlier, so I just have to work it out with my Mom."

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