May 26, 2010

O'Bryant eager to represent U.S., pare down list

Johnny O'Bryant will leave for San Antonio early next month, the first of what promises to be a summer full of travel.

O'Bryant is one of 21 players competing for 12 coveted spots on the USA's Under-17 team that will participate in the 2010 FIBA Under-17 World Championship For Men in Hamburg, Germany July 2-11.

The U.S. team will face Lithuania on July 3, China on July 5, Egypt on July 6 and Serbia on July 7. The top four finishing teams from each group will advance to the medal quarterfinals, scheduled for July 9, the semifinals are slated for July 10 and the gold and bronze medal games will be contested on July 11

"I'm pretty excited," O'Bryant said. "It's an to honor to be so young and play for the national team. You watch the older guys go for the gold medal and it makes you excited about the competition."

The tryouts themselves have O'Bryant, a five-star power forward from Cleveland (East Side), Miss., excited. O'Bryant, who was recently ranked by as the No. 5 power forward prospect in the country (24th overall), will compete against other elite-level prospects such as Norfolk, Va., forward James McAdoo; Memphis, Tenn., forward Adonis Thomas; and San Diego, Calif., center Angelo Chol.

When the international travel is over, O'Bryant plans to rack up some miles on the domestic front as well. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound O'Bryant is hoping to visit several of his top college choices this summer. He said Tuesday night that he's hoping to cut his list to a manageable seven or eight schools prior to the fall and he reiterated that he's planning to wait until the spring signing period in April 2011 to sign a national letter-of-intent.

"I want to see everything play out," said O'Bryant, who averaged 21 points, 15 rebounds and 12 blocked shots per game for East Side last season. "I want to see which school is best for me. I want to see the playing style. I want to be comfortable and I want to play for a great coach."

O'Bryant, who sports a who's who offer list that includes Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Florida, Florida State, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Harvard, Kansas, LSU, Memphis, Miami, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and USC, said only three schools _ Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Kentucky _ have reserved spots as finalists for his college services.

Ole Miss, O'Bryant said, is "a great school. They're on the rise. They're losing about five players (off the 2010-11 team) and they're getting better each year. Coach (Andy) Kennedy is a great coach."

If O'Bryant picked Ole Miss, he'd likely be the highest-profile recruit to ever sign with the Rebels.

"I kind of think about that, but it doesn't matter," O'Bryant said. "Once you get to college, you have to play to earn your spot."

O'Bryant said he likes the way Mississippi State uses its post players.

"Their bigs pop out on screens and really play four positions," O'Bryant said.

Kentucky, meanwhile, "is Kentucky," O'Bryant said. "It's a winning program on the rise and you get a lot of exposure. Their place is filled with scouts all the time."

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