Kansas Guard’s stock continues to rise
Layden Blocker strengths
The target for University of Arkansas playmaker Layden Blocker is having a solid junior season with a talented squad.
Blocker, 6-2, 172 pounds, transferred to Sunrise Academy in Kansas after playing Little Rock Christian and being named to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Underclassman team as a freshman and sophomore.
Sunrise Academy has players signed or signed with Maryland, Duke, Kansas, Florida State and Baylor, while having others with several important offers.
Blocker is the team’s third-leading scorer with 8.5 points per game, with 4.5 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals. He’s shooting 53% from the field and 42% over the three-point line in the Buffaloes’ first 10 games, who are ranked No.1 nationally in at least two polls.
Sunrise Academy coach Luke Barnwell said Blocker was a great addition to the program.
“He’s been huge and great for us,” Barnwell said. “I think entering the door his speed [is] so elite and his athleticism is so elite with the ability to put the ball on the ground. I think we knew that, but what he gave us, what we weren’t expecting, was how well he shot the ball. … His ability to descend and enter the painting is as good as anyone else. “
Blocker worked with former Sunrise coach and Minnesota and Wichita State assistant Kyle Lindstead to improve his game.
“My confidence level is pretty high,” Blocker said. “I play well in one of the best teams in the country. I worked on my weaknesses at Sunrise and I feel they become my strengths And I feel my confidence level will continue to increase
Blocker saw improvement in his catch-and-shoot and three-point shot after working with Lindstead.
“It changed my shot a bit,” said Blocker, who played for Bradley Beal Elite, 16 under U16, in the spring and summer. “I feel like I can make money just from my shoot.”
Leaving his family for Kansas was one of the biggest challenges.
“Being away from home has been one of the biggest adjustments,” Blocker said. “Not being able to see my family every day. I’m just thinking about the end goal. I came here for a purpose and I’m going to fulfill that goal for my family. I can always call them. They still come to see me sometimes. “
Blocker, a 4-star ESPN prospect, announced a top seven from Arkansas, Memphis, Baylor, Kansas, Gonzaga, Auburn and Oklahoma State in October while keeping his recruiting still open.
Arkansas coach Eric Musselman uses his entire staff when recruiting prospects and it stands out from Blocker.
“Most of the time, everyone on the coaching staff contacts me and text me,” Blocker said. “They do a really good job of connecting with me and trying to build a relationship with me. I feel like one of the things I’m looking for in a school is to build a relationship with your coaches and have a connection with them and they also do a really good job of connecting with me. ”
He said recruiting coordinator Ronnie Brewer Jr. and assistant Gus Argenal were keeping in touch.
“These are the two main people who send things to me almost every day or every other day,” Blocker said. “Just about school and me.
Blocker made unofficial visits to Fayetteville and Baylor over the summer. He also communicates with Musselman and his assistants Clay Moser and Keith Smart. Having so many Razorback staff members reaching out is unique.
“Arkansas is really the only school that’s really doing this,” Blocker said. “All the staff are contacting me, but the other schools still have a few coaches contacting me. They do the same thing but they just don’t have that many coaches. I say that’s the difference between them.”
Blocker’s game this season, as well as his performances at the prestigious Wootten Camp Top 150 and Pangos All-American Camp have seen his stock increase and an increase in his star rating may be in the works.
“It’s a time coming, I think,” Barnwell said. “He’s well deserved. Just as he’s played at our level, he’s kind of validated that it’s happening and if it’s not quick it should be quick in my opinion.”
Email Richard Davenport at [email protected]