Freshman might be best of E.V. big men - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Freshman might be best of E.V. big men

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Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2010 11:02 pm | Updated: 3:34 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Former Utah Jazz coach Frank Layden once said what still rings true today: You can't teach height.

Recently, Arizona has seen its share of star wings and point guards make a dent on the collegiate landscape, and its top prospects over the next two years are following that trend.

Impact big men, though, have been harder to find.

Channing Frye and Harper Kamp have been the two dominant post players of the decade. Frye led St. Mary's to the 5A title in 2001 and starred at Arizona before moving on to the NBA. Kamp helped the Toros to three straight titles and earned a scholarship to Cal.

Others such as Kramer Knutson (Dobson), Taylor Rohde (Pinnacle), Gavin Edwards (Mesquite), Chad Goldstein (Desert Mountain) and Byron Fulton (St. Mary's) carved out nice prep careers in the paint.

This year, seniors Blondy Baruti (Mesa), Kyle Tresnak (Horizon), Carter Warnock (Seton), Josh Amaya (Mesquite) and John Bailey (Dobson) all play big roles in their teams' success.

But the big man with the brightest future is still just a boy.

Meet Basha's Torren Jones, a 6-foot-8 freshman with a tantalizing mix of athleticism and coordination. Although just 15, he leads the Bears in scoring at 14.0 points per game, grabs 7.6 rebounds and blocks 3.3 shots per contest. He has already been offered a scholarship by Arizona. And when Jones mentions to Basha coach Brad Pinter that North Carolina is his dream school, Pinter doesn't laugh but instead places a phone call to make the Tar Heels aware of his interest.

"He's not just big," Pinter said. "I've coached a lot of big guys that were just big. They didn't have the knack. He has something you can't quite describe, but he can put the ball in the basket. When you see that, you go, 'Wow.'"

The colleges interested now are banking on his potential. Jones runs well and projects to be 6-foot-10.

While he said the move from junior high straight to varsity was never daunting, it was a change.

"You don't really need a jump shot in eighth grade," he said. "You could just overpower them and score."

It hasn't been all smooth sailing. Jones is still raw, as foul trouble, turnovers and physical play can take him out of his game.

"Last week, against Corona and Mesquite, he kind of struggled a little bit," Pinter said. "(Tuesday against Mountain View), he dominated. They couldn't really stop him.

"It's part of being a freshman. He's going to have a little bit of up and down."

It's those glimpses of greatness, though, that get Pinter excited about what's to come.

During an open-gym practice, he put Jones at point guard to get used to the pressure of handling the ball. Even in that scenario, Pinter couldn't help but be impressed.

"We made him go against our real point guards," Pinter said. "Of course, he would lose the ball and look bad a couple times, but a couple times you see him make a move and go, 'Whoa.'

"Every now and then he will do something, and people will go, 'He's only a freshman?' We're just so used to it by now."

But don't expect many perimeter moments from Jones in his high school career. He's plenty happy in the land of the giants, where he is on track to be the one that stands out.

"Oh, no, I don't like playing outside," he said. "I wouldn't want the pressure of playing outside and making those kind of adjustments. ... I've been working on my post game all my life. It comes easy to me."  

E.V. big men

Player, school, year, height, points per game, rebounds per game, blocks per game

Kyle Tresnak, Horizon, Sr., 6-9, 15.7, 9.6, 4.6

John Bailey, Dobson, Sr., 6-8, 15.5, 7.8, 3.1

Torren Jones, Basha, Fr., 6-8, 14.0, 7.6, 3.3

Brelan Berry, Basha, Sr., 6-8, 12.9, 8.0, 1.5

Josh Amaya, Mesquite, Sr., 6-11, 9.7, 9.6, 1.6

Blondy Baruti, Mesa, Sr., 6-9, 9.2, 6.6, 2.2

Carter Warnock, Seton, Sr., 6-9, 8.9, 7.8, 1.8

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