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.
Blair Academy sharpshooter Jaylen Blakes sees recruitment blow up
By ADAM ZAGORIATOMS RIVER, N.J. –– Jaylen Blakes is fast becoming one of the best long-range shooters in the Northeast, if not the nation.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior guard from Blair (N.J.) Academy went for 27 points on 5-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc in a 72-54 win over The Patrick School on Friday night in the Metro Classic. He then scored 13 points while shooting just 3-of-11 in a 57-53 win over Cushing Academy on Saturday at the Empire Invitational.
For the season, the Franklin, N.J. native is averaging 19 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds while shooting 37 percent from deep. Blair is 61-7 since his arrival as a 14-year-old freshman.
“I put in a lot of work this summer and also my teammates are helping me out,” Blakes said. “Guys are putting me in the right position and finding me when I’m open.”
Blakes has worked hard on his game, putting up 500 shots a day with a shooting machine.
“He is a young man with an uncommon motor and toughness who also works tirelessly on his game,” Blair coach Joe Mantegna said.
“I grabbed him the other day to ask him if he had shot on his own yet that day and he said, “Yeah, twice.’”
On the recruiting front, Blakes holds offers from Georgia, Iona, Rutgers, Yale, St. John’s, Penn State and UConn. Harvard and Stanford have also shown interest.
Columbia head coach Jim Engles and assistants from UConn and Marquette were on hand to see him Friday.
“I’m just taking it day-by-day but more [offers] to come during AAU season,” he said.
He recently visited Rutgers and is impressed by what the Scarlet Knights are doing under coach Steve Pikiell.
“They’re having a great season,” Blakes said. “They just got a big win against Penn State, I went on a visit there. They have a new practice facility to it was great to see that. They’re really building a program. I talked to Coach [Karl] Hobbs. He said this isn’t what Rutgers is becoming, it’s what Rutgers is. So they’re really developing and they’re going to be a big-name team.”
UConn has also been involved, and assistant Tom Moore watched Blakes and sophomore guard Kyle Cuffe Jr. on Friday. The Huskies are also recruiting Patrick School junior forward Samson Johnson.
“They’re definitely interested,” Blakes said. “The Big East is a high-level conference. I’m just looking at what they’re doing there and what they’re building. I played against [UConn guards James] Bouknight and [Jalen] Gaffney last year. They have a good program over there.”
Marquette coach Dwayne Killings was at the game Friday and “has been in contact with me,” Blakes said. “He’s a very good dude.”
Blakes obviously has interest or offers from several Ivy League schools as well as Stanford.
“My parents always preach student first and athlete second,” he said.
He has no other visits planned for now.
“Not at the moment, I’m just waiting until the season ends,” he said.
Blakes figures to pick up more offers this summer. He played last year with Sports U on the Under Armour circuit, but said he’s not sure who he’ll play with in 2020.
“More to come in AAU season and everything like that,” he said.
Photo: Blair Academy
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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.