Friday, March 5, 2010

Victory Christian's Clyburn commits to Presbyterian

Victory Christian's Josh Clyburn has committed to Presybterian, his father, Derrick, told the Observer.

Clyburn, a 6-7 center, led the Kings to the N.C. 2A Independent Schools state championship last week.

Here is a story we did on Clyburn in January:

National recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons was at a Martin Luther King holiday tournament earlier this week. He said he saw lots of college coaches all looking for the same thing: players with size.

He said there's a good one right there in Charlotte: Victory Christian's 6-8 senior center Josh Clyburn.

"That's one (player who is) somewhat under the radar who I think should be a getting a lot of attention," said Gibbons of Lenoir-based All-Star Sports. "He has the ability to play anywhere from mid-major to low Division I. With the way he's improving, it's all ahead for him."

Clyburn, 17, will be one of the featured players tonight when Victory Christian (8-10) plays United Faith (12-4) at home in a key South Piedmont Athletic Association conference game. United Faith and Davidson Day (13-3) are unbeaten in league play. Victory is one game back.

Clyburn will have a lot to do with whether the Kings can pull off an upset tonight.

He's averaging 17 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks for the season and 19 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in his last 13 games. And this is his first full year playing center.

From eighth grade to 11th grade, Clyburn grew 9 inches. He'd played guard all of his life and suddenly had to learn to play forward and then center. He played junior varsity as a 6-5 sophomore. Last year, he played limited minutes of varsity because of recurring back pain that his father, Derrick Clyburn, said came because Josh was growing so fast.

"It was crazy," Josh said. "I had to figure out how to play all over again. I had injuries through middle school because of the growing pains. I used to be sore in my knees all the time."

The growing pains finally subsided last spring and Clyburn played all summer, playing on some traveling summer teams with nationally ranked seniors Ian Miller (United Faith) and Jarell Eddie (Concord Cannon).

"As soon as I got there, my confidence skyrocketed," Clyburn said. "I was playing against some of the best players in the country and holding my own."

Victory Christian coach Johms Gool marvels at how Clyburn has maintained some of his guard skills despite his growth spurt.

"He's a runner and a leaper," Gool said. "He runs with our guards in sprints. He can easily get his hand over the top of the square of the backboard when he jumps. He's just a naturally gifted athlete. He's a high major talent athletically on the collegiate level. He's got the skills. And he hasn't shown them all. He's not comfortable doing everything he can do in games yet."

His father said his son has offers from VMI, Presbyterian, Maryland Eastern Shore, N.C. Central and UNC Pembroke. Radford, Charleston Southern and Eastern Kentucky are showing serious interest.

"He's come a long way," Gool said. "He grew up being a guard and thinking like a guard. Then he gets all this size. He's going to go to college and get much better. I look forward to seeing that. He's got so much potential, this major upside, you know? If you run him through drills, you're like, 'Wow, look at everything he can do - handle it with either hand, make moves to his left or right, shoot with either hand.' As he gets more comfortable using the things he's practicing in games, he'll become more dominant - like he should be."

Clyburn feels that day is coming soon. "I believe I'm still developing," he said. "I haven't gotten to my best. My best is yet to come. The school I go to, I want a coach who will develop me and make me into a better player. I'm ready to work."