Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
PHILADELPHIA — By far the most intriguing player here at the Reebok Breakout Challenge is 6-foot-10 center Tony Trocha of Houston St. Thomas Episcopal.
A slew of high-major coaches watched Wednesday as Trocha scored 10 points and grabbed 4 rebounds as his team, the Answers, were blown out, 100-61, by a JWALL team that featured the Harrison Twins, who combined for 39 points.
A native of Colombia, Rocha, 18, is a long, athletic big man who gets up and down the floor well and scored all his points in this guard-dominated game on dunks and layups.
I spoke with him earlier in the day and he speaks very limited English, but his guardian, Jamie Ibanez, a fellow Colombian who has known Trocha since he was 11, gave me an exclusive interview after the game.
“He can put it on the floor, take it to the hole, block shots, rebound and all that,” Ibanez said. “But like you said, it’s difficult if you don’t touch the ball, if you don’t have touches, it’s difficult to really do anything. So all he can do is just run up and down as hard as he can and try to play defense. That’s all he can do.”
Ibanez said it remains unclear whether Trocha will go to college in 2012 or 2013 and they are awaiting SAT results.
“It looks like he might be a ’13,” Ibanez said. “More than likely ’13 right now.”
Ibanez rattled off a list of scholarship offers that includes Kentucky, Ohio State, Baylor, Texas A&M, Arizona, UCLA, Oregon, Providence and Georgetown, among others.
Ibanez said Kentucky coach John Calipari was among the coaches who “flew down to see an open gym [in Houston].”
No visits are currently scheduled but Ibanez said some will likely happen over “the next couple of months.”
Trocha has had a hectic travel schedule. He arrived here at 11:30 Wednesday morning after leaving Houston at 4 a.m.
Before that, Trocha played with the Colombia U18 team at the FIBA Americas Championship in Brazil that was won by an American team led by Julius Randle.
He led Colombia with 16.0 points and 10.2 rebounds as his team went 1-4 in five games.
What is Trocha’s upside on the college level?
“That’s difficult to judge,” Ibanez said. “If you have great tools, you have great tools and you just have to develop them. Hopefully get good coaching and good work ethic. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, it’s how hard you work.”
Trocha’s team was manhandled by the Harrison Twins and company, but he is sure to be the focus of attention for the rest of the week here.
“The other team is so superior,” Ibanez said. “The brothers are just amazing. It’s difficult to judge like that.
“They’re very, very talented.”
It is possible the twins and Trocha could both end up at Kentucky in 2013, but a lot will happen between now and then.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.