Four months ago, when Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) point guard Layden Blocker released his top seven schools, he wasn’t approaching the proverbial list trimming ceremony with a “forsaking all others” mindset.
The cut was more about zeroing in on a more workable number of schools were there was mutual interest in order to contain the madness that can be the recruitment process.
“I’ve always been open to other schools,” said Blocker, a junior. “I just wanted to cut down on my list of the schools that had already reached out and start from there. But I’m definitely open to new schools.”
That’s good news for Oregon and Ohio State, the latest schools to jump in for the 6’2” floor general. They’ll join Arkansas, Memphis, Gonzaga, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Baylor and Auburn, who all remain in constant pursuit.
Blocker has yet to take any visits as he and the Buffaloes, ranked No. 1 in the SB Live/Sports Illustrated Power 25, prepare for a run in GEICO Nationals next month.
“I may set up a visit or two soon because we have a break coming up in March,” Blocker said. “But I’m mostly looking forward to setting up visits after GEICO and in the spring and summer. My plan is to take visits to all of the schools. I know how important it is to see the campuses and get a feel for the coaches. I want to be able to see myself fitting in at the school.”
College coaches certainly have the vision after a strong season on a loaded Sunrise Christian squad. Despite having multiple SI All-American nominees, including two McDonald’s All Americans (Mark Mitchell and Gradey Dick), Blocker has managed to carve out his niche and shine.
Last weekend, Blocker scored 13 points, dished out five assists and snagged six rebounds in a win 74-69 over No. 5 Link Academy (Branson, Mo.).
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His strong play this season is a carryover from a strong summer averaging 15 points a game with Brad Beal Elite (Mo.) in the Nike EYBL and Nike Peach Jam.
“I want to be in a system that plays up-tempo and really gives freedom to their guards,” Blocker said. “That’s really important for me because I know that’s where I’ll flourish. I want to be somewhere that I’ll grow. That’s why I’m taking my time with everything. At this point, I’m just trying to enjoy it; it’s still crazy to me that I’m in this position.”
Don’t get him wrong, Blocker absolutely foresaw the trajectory, but, at times, he recalls perusing social media as a pre-teen watching countless clips of older high school stars and dreaming of having his own highlights for youngsters to gawk over.
“It honestly seems like it was yesterday, and now my younger brothers and their friends are watching my games on ESPN and watching clips of me,” Blocker said. “Ever since I came here to Sunrise and started playing in the NIBC is when everything started blowing up like that. It’s fun, but it just makes me want to go even harder because the hard work brought all of this.”