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.
Special to ZAGSBLOGFORT WAYNE, IN — Leron Black caught some tough breaks over the weekend.
Team Thad’s 6-foot-7 power forward and the top-ranked player in Tennessee came into the Bill Hensley Memorial Run N’ Slam still regaining his wind after a long layoff. He sprained his ankle in April, causing him to miss the first couple weeks of AAU play. Entering the weekend, he knew his minutes would be carefully monitored.
What’s more, Black tweaked his ankle again on Saturday. As a precaution, he sat out Sunday’s quarter and semifinals, icing and resting his body as Team Thad rolled to the title game on the back of star point guard Chris Chiozza.
With his game limited, Black returned for the championship, giving his squad a boost but not enough to prevent a 66-46 loss to All Ohio Red, led by Ohio State commit Jae’Sean Tate. Despite their strong all-around weekend, it was a disappointing result for banged-up Team Thad, playing their eighth game in three days.
In spite of all the setbacks, Black stood out as one of the most talented prospects in the field, even without his typical explosion and fitness. Though unable to go full-bore running the floor—one of Black’s main strengths—his developing midrange game, nose for the ball and knack for getting to the basket still shone. No injury could fully conceal the elite skill set that has made him a priority for many college programs.
Originally committing to Baylor and head coach Scott Drew back in September, Black opted to reconsider that decision in January. Despite speculation, it was nothing personal—the Bears remain among the teams firmly in the mix for his signature. He listed Florida, Illinois, N.C. State, Ohio State and UConn as the other schools coming after him the hardest.
“Baylor is still up there,” said Black. “I still love them, love the staff over there. I just feel like I [chose] too early. I want to make sure I take all my visits before I make a decision.”
Still very much in the early stages of his decision, Black will continue to field calls and listen to pitches throughout the summer, leading up to his senior year at White Station High in Memphis. At the moment, his suitors are on even ground.
“They’re all similar right now,” Black said. “Nobody’s really sticking out or anything yet. I probably won’t decide until October in the first signing period.”
The coaches will keep texting, fans will bother him on Twitter, and the hype around Black will surely continue to build, especially as he gets healthy. He remains focused on what he wants, keeping things simple and enjoying the process as he searches for the perfect fit.
“I’m big on my religion,” he said. “I want to go somewhere where I’ll be capable to spread my religion, about Jesus Christ. I want to able to talk to coaches about that, and go somewhere a coach will allow me to do that.
“On the court, I want somewhere I can play my game,” Black added. “I want to get up and down the floor and play around a lot of tough players.”
Based on his college options, it’ll be hard for him to go wrong.
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.