Getting Noticed

While his sophomore year of high school is barely behind him, Parkersburg (W.Va.) native and class of 2012 prospect Zach Grossenbacher has already had a whirlwind summer on the AAU circuit. Along the way, he's picked up his fair share of attention from college coaches.

Grossenbacher was not far from home Wednesday, as he and his West Virginia Wildcats Select squad was part of the Hoop Group West Virginia Jam Fest event held in Morgantown.

But the home of the Mountaineers was just another stop along the way in what has been a busy summer.

Already, the class of 2012 prospect and his Wildcats Select team has participated in two tournaments in Columbus, Ohio. They went to events in Louisville and Lexington, Ky., and North Carolina. After completing the tournament in West Virginia, the team will travel to Florida for another pair of events.

All the travel may prove worthwhile, as Grossenbacher, listed at 6-foot-6, already has picked up one scholarship offer and has attracted attention from a host of other schools.

"I've gotten a lot of looks and one offer from Marshall University so far," he said. "But I'm getting looks from a couple of different colleges, and summer so far has been really good for me. I feel like I've played well, so hopefully I'll keep that up."

Among those expressing interest are Akron, Bowling Green, Central Florida, Dayton, Duquesne, Ohio, Penn State, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

During the Wildcats' first game at the Jam Fest tournament, coaches from several schools took a seat to watch. Mountaineers assistant Billy Hahn was joined by his counterparts from schools like Cleveland State, VMI and Tennessee-Martin, as well as a Thundering Herd staffer keeping tabs on Grossenbacher's progress.

That's hardly anything new, as the Parkersburg High School standout said the new coaching staff at Marshall, led by former Pitt assistant Tom Herrion, has been a constant presence around him.

"I've talked to Coach [Mark] Cline and Coach Herrion a lot," Grossenbacher said. "I went for an unofficial visit when they had the Marshall University team camp. My team went there on a Saturday. They talked to me and met me, and I met most of the players and saw the locker room. They have a really, really nice locker room."

"I really like the coaches. Coach Cline is a really nice guy. He's personable and he really gets to know you. He's been following me the whole summer. He's been at every single one of my games."

As for the Mountaineers, who serve as de facto hosts of the Jam Fest event (many of the games are played on the courts at the WVU student recreation center), there has been some contact between Bob Huggins' coaching staff and the Parkersburg product.

"I went to the West Virginia elite camp and played there," Grossenbacher said. "They've talked to me and they called my coach and I've met with them a few times. They've sent me one or two letters. They said they were going to be looking at me."

But unlike many youngsters who grow up in the Mountain State, an offer from the state's flagship university is not the ultimate dream for Grossenbacher.

"My dream since I was five years old is to play for Duke," he said.

Watching the young forward play, it's easy to see why he has drawn so much early interest. He is a solid perimeter shooter, with a smooth, picturesque release. He knocked down three 3-pointers in the Wildcats' 83-58 win over the Charlotte Storm to start Jam Fest.

But plenty of players at AAU events show their capability of scoring at these tournaments, sometimes to a fault.

What separates Grossenbacher is his willingness to play within himself and get his teammates involved, even in an arena in which many players are concerned only with showing off for coaches in attendance.

He had a relatively quiet 11 points in the win over Charlotte, but time and time again, he distributed the ball well, dove to the floor for loose balls and showed a skill set more typically seen in older, more mature players.

That's something Grossenbacher said is part of who he is as a player.

"I always look for the extra pass," he said. "If a man has a better shot than me, I give him the better shot. I pride myself on hitting the open man and not forcing any shots. I take what I think is the best shot at the time."

"I feel like I have a good amount about of basketball knowledge. I know the game real well, and I can shoot. I make good decisions on the court."

Between that intelligence and his smooth jump shot, Grossenbacher has a collection of abilities that many college coaches look for.

But he also has plenty of room to improve in his game.

Despite being the tallest player on the floor against Charlotte, he typically shied away from getting too involved in the interior (though, to be fair, on one occasion, he made a nifty spin move in the paint on a fast break, absorbed hard contact from a defender and still finished neatly at the goal).

At times, he didn't move assertively without the ball to try to free himself for shots. And while he showed impressive hustle to use his feet and run around opponents who had gotten in better position for rebounds, he was often beaten to the ideal spot to grab those caroms.

"I definitely need to work on my aggressiveness and rebounding a little bit, and ball-handling," Grossenbacher conceded, without even being asked what his weaknesses were.

But heading into his junior year of high school, he knows there is time to work on those aspects of his game.

He takes a similar approach to recruiting, saying he is in no rush to make any commitments and predicting he will make a decision next summer, heading into his senior year of high school.

"Not this year," Grossenbacher said, without hesitating. "I'll keep it open."

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