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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Hoops Recruiting Report
Monday, January 23, 2006

By Thad Mumau

Blair sold on coaches, chance to play early


When Gabe Blair visited the East Carolina campus in early September, he had a feeling that was where he wanted to continue his education and his basketball career.

But he followed through on a promise to visit Colorado State, and although he really liked it there, visions of Greenville and the Pirates kept coming back to his mind.

Scheduled trips to Tennessee and St. Bonaventure still loomed ahead. Those were trips that had once sounded exciting, but no longer. So he canceled both visits, and he followed his heart.

Blair, a 6-8 forward from Kings Mountain (NC) Hope Christian Academy, committed to East Carolina and then signed with the Pirates in November.

“When he came back from Greenville,” Hope Christian Academy coach Rod Seaford said, “Gabe figured he wasn’t going to like any other place better than East Carolina.

“He liked Colorado State quite a bit, but distance was the over-riding factor there. He really liked the East Carolina coaches. They let him know they had expectations of him coming in and having an opportunity to play early.

“East Carolina did the best job of recruiting Gabe. The coaches really wanted him and they let him know that.”

Blair received scholarship offers from Tennessee, Colorado State, St. Bonaventure and Massachusetts in addition to ECU. Tulsa was also very interested, and Virginia Commonwealth offered last spring, then figured out he wasn’t going there and moved on.

Thin at 217 pounds, Blair is averaging 18.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.9 blocked shots through 16 games this season, while hitting 54 percent of his field goal attempts, many of which come from 12-15 feet.

He scored a season-high 25 points against Terraceia, adding seven assists and six steals. He has pulled down 15 rebounds in one game, grabbing a dozen in another.

“His rebound totals aren’t what they could be,” Seaford explained, “because he plays on the perimeter a lot, and he usually guards the opponent’s top scorer. That puts him away from the basket most of the time on defense.

“Gabe has played some two guard for us this season. His three-point shot needs work, but he handles the ball pretty well and has improved a lot in that area. He is an inside-out player, a face-up player.

“We post him up some,” Seaford said, “and he is very polished in there. He has a pretty good up-and-under move and a nice half-hook. When he plays down low, he’s almost always quicker than the guy guarding him.

“He has a good mid-range game and is a match-up problem because of his size and quickness. He is real good at catching the ball on the wing and going to the basket. Many times, he needs just one bounce to get to the rim.

"Gabe is stronger than he looks, but he obviously needs to put on some weight. He is very long-armed and lean. One thing about him is that he can get up in the air. A lot of tall guys can’t jump, but he can hop.

“He has a lot of athleticism, and he has made a bunch of spectacular dunks and follow dunks.

“He is capable of being a good defender,” said Seaford, who also coached Blair on the Charlotte Royals AAU team. “He showed that this summer against some pretty good players.

“Gabe guarded Thaddeus Young and held him to eight points, and he outscored Brendan Wright, 21-18.”

Wright, a 6-9 power forward, is the No. 3 high school senior in the country as ranked by Young, a 6-8 small forward, is No. 5. Both are headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference, Wright having signed with North Carolina and Young with Georgia Tech.

Blair averaged 14.6 points and 8.3 rebounds for a Royals team that had a half-dozen future Division I players, four of whom averaged 14-16 points.

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02/23/2007 02:42:40 PM


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