Colbert Report

Austin Colbert is turning heads everywhere he goes with his AAU team, and the Hoop Group West Virginia Jam Fest is no exception. The Class of 2013 prospect, part of Team Final, spoke to BlueGoldNews.com about his recruitment after winning his first game of the Morgantown tournament Thursday.

Coaches from several schools were watching as Colbert's Team Final, based in Pennsylvania, throttled North Carolina's Mid-State Magic 66-33 on Thursday afternoon at Morgantown High School.

Logos from three Big East Conference schools -- Cincinnati, Rutgers and Villanova -- were visible amongst the coaches' section. Several smaller schools, including Marshall, New Hampshire and others, also had coaches looking on.

Colbert, who says he stands 6-foot-9 and weighs 198 pounds, put on a show for those observers early.

He blocked a shot on the first possession of the game, setting the tone. Colbert blocked or altered several other shots, showing off an impressive vertical and using every bit of his long arms to full effect.

The rising junior at St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, N.J., showed a mature all-around defensive game. He constantly was moving his feet, establishing a dominant position over defenders that attempted to post him up. He looked equally comfortable in Team Final's full-court press and its half-court zone and man-to-man defenses.

Offensively, Colbert could stand to work on his jump shot. But he showed good instincts when playing with his back to the basket, making a quick, decisive move after catching the ball in the low block -- and not allowing his defender to get squared up to his body (a flaw in many young players' games).

He also ran the floor extraordinarily well, as did just about every one of his Team Final teammates.

"I'm a long, lanky forward who can put the ball on the floor a little bit," Colbert said, attempting to describe his own game. "I'm athletic, wiry. I can definitely shoot it a little bit for my size. Another one of my strengths is running the floor."

But for a long spell after his impressive start, Colbert was relatively quiet. He did not exert his will in the second half of Team Final's win (an outcome which, contrary to what the final score might lead you to believe, was actually in doubt early in the second half).

Even in the later stages of the first half, Colbert was already hunching over during breaks in the action and holding his hands on his knees, his chest heaving a bit.

That's not to say Colbert is out of shape. He looks athletic even before he steps on the floor. But it's clear he could stand to work more on his conditioning so he can play well for longer stretches -- something Colbert himself acknowledged.

"That's one of the big things I need to work on, being consistent in every game -- rebounding especially," he said. "Also, my motor for blocking shots, that's also something I can work on. And definitely my offensive awareness and skills are a big thing I'm working on."

Still, schools are recognizing the many skills that are part of the forward's game. He has received serious interest from a host of programs in the "power six" conferences, including Baylor, Florida, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Miami (Fla.), North Carolina, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, and West Virginia.

"Hopefully, there's more on the way," Colbert said with a smile after rattling off that list.

The Jam Fest event gives Colbert the chance to check out one of the schools on that list, as he said he plans to see WVU's facilities before leaving town this weekend.

Colbert has been in contact with Mountaineer assistant coach Larry Harrison, and characterized his interactions with West Virginia in a positive way.

"It's good," Colbert said. "[Harrison] seems like a really cool guy. He knows what he's talking about, and he's under a great head coach [Bob Huggins]."

But if Huggins hopes to land the services of the 4-star prospect, Scout.com's No. 8 power forward in the Class of 2013, he will have to fend off a series of formidable opponents.

And though it is still early in his recruitment, Colbert is thinking seriously about the process at this point and said he hopes to make his choice sometime during the upcoming school year.

"It's kind of hard to say," Colbert said, when asked if he has any early favorites. "If they were all one college, I'd say them all. But that's not possible. So favorites, I don't know.

"It's hard. It's hard. I've wanted to play in the ACC, but then again, there's some great schools in the Big East and all over. It's hard. I'll probably be able to pinpoint where I want to go probably during my junior year."

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