Updated: Jun 11, 2022
To conclude an event-filled summer, CrossRoads Elite Invitational provided an opportunity to get an early look at some of the nation’s top underclassmen all under one roof. Taking place at the YMCA Farha Sports Centers in Wichita, Pro Insight was on hand to cover the three-day event. In between games, we caught up with Layden Blocker of Sunrise Christian Academy (KS) and Brad Beal Elite (MO).
Perhaps the most explosive guard in the camp, Blocker made his presence felt on both ends of the ball by turning defense into offense, showcasing his ability to run his team, flashing shooting upside, and attacking the basket with power finishes. Few 2023 guards have the blend of athletic tools and perimeter skillset Blocker possesses. Combine that with his high motor and eagerness to improve as a PG and you have someone who is primed to explode as a prospect in the near future. Look for Blocker to make an immediate impact with Sunrise, this season.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Blocker discussed his decision to join Sunrise Christian Academy, what he showed coaches this summer, his recruitment update, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2023 prospect Layden Blocker, from Maumelle, Arkansas:
Pro Insight: Tell us a bit about your game — what are your strengths?
Layden Blocker: I’m a very good scorer. I can score the ball at times, but if the coach puts me at the PG position I can facilitate and get my teammates a shot. I can play defense pretty well; I can play against the other team's best player. Those are really my attributes.
PI: What about some improvement areas?
LB: One area I’m trying to improve on would be communicating at the PG position. I played a lot of shooting guard when I was in high school and AAU so I really need to work on my PG skills in terms of communicating with my teammates and getting them in the right spots.
PI: Are you in the process of transitioning to full-time PG?
LB: Yep. I’m a PG, but since I’m such a good scorer, coaches put me at the shooting guard a little bit. So now I’m just transitioning to be an elite PG who can score the ball and facilitate.
PI: How are you working on your PG leadership skills?
LB: I’m working on it with Coach Luke and the whole Sunrise Christian Academy staff. They’ve been working with me all summer to help me become a great PG by helping me encourage my teammates, communicating with them, and being a leader.
PI: What are some underrated aspects of your game?
LB: My athleticism. Some people know I can jump, but I have sneaky bounce. Sometimes when I come down the lane people expect me to just lay it up, but I can rise up and dunk on someone.
PI: Where does your explosiveness come from?
LB: It really started when I was in eighth grade. I wasn’t that tall, I was about 5’9” then I spurted up to around 6’0”. Then I started working on the vertimax and weight training. Then sand workouts in ninth grade and staying in the weight room. I think my athleticism comes from working, but it’s also natural.
PI: Is there a player you compare your game to?
LB: I would compare my game to De’Aaron Fox and Ja Morant because of their speed in transition, athleticism, ability to make plays, and finish. I believe as I can become a more elite shooter I can be more like Steph Curry when it comes to shooting.
PI: What’s the update with your recruitment?
LB: Well, I currently hold 18 offers. All of the schools contact me daily and it’s a blessing. I took two unofficials to Arkansas and Baylor and I have three scheduled officials.
PI: What are the scheduled official visits and when are they?
LB: Well I have officials to Ole Miss on September 10-12th, then Oklahoma on September 24-26th, and Auburn on October 8-10th.
PI: What type of system best fits your playing style?
LB: I think a small-ball system with two bigs and three guards. Just spacing the floor and a fast team. One of my strengths is transition, when I get the ball I’m really fast. So a team that can just run and beat other teams by their athleticism and runnin — that’s a system that I fit best in.
PI: Did you have any dream schools growing up?
LB: Growing up I did not have a dream school. When I was younger I was really thinking about and watching the NBA.
PI: If you could team up with any high school player in the country when you guys get to college, who would you pick?
LB: If I could team up with any high school player in the country it would probably be my brother. Me and my brother are really close and it would be cool to play in college together but I hope I’m only in college for one year.
PI: How do you project your role at the next level?
LB: My role at the next level is to be a point guard that communicates and leads the team. Be a vocal leader and make winning plays. That’s important to coaches.
PI: What are your three main priorities when it comes to your recruitment?
LB: My three main priorities are: family environment, best fit to allow me to be who I am and prepare me to play in the NBA. And I want to play for a coach that trusts me and helps me be the best I can be.
PI: How's your timeline looking?
LB: I don’t have a timeline. Just focusing on my junior season, getting better, and winning a national championship.
PI: What are your off-court interests?
LB: Off the court I like to play video games. The only game I play is 2K. I feel like I’m really good at it. And really just on my phone, those are the main things off the court I do.
PI: How would you rate yourself on 2K?
LB: I would rate myself probably a 99. I can play with any team, but the team I like to play with the most is the Boston Celtics. I know how to use them well.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
LB: If I had one hashtag to describe myself it would probably be #trusttheprocess because growing up like in middle school, I wasn’t really known and now I’m getting a lot of looks from scouts and different colleges. I feel like I just need to trust the process and stay humble, don’t let that go over my head.
PI: Say you were to wake up tomorrow with $10 million in your bank account — what would be your first purchase?
LB: If I woke up with $10 million in my bank account I would probably buy a car and a new Xbox or Playstation. And some shoes.
PI: What kind of car?
LB: I wouldn’t want it to be too expensive. Probably like a Trackhawk [Jeep] or Hellcat [Dodge], one of those fast cars. Hellcat is my favorite car.
PI: What are you looking to accomplish this HS basketball season? What are your goals?
LB: I'm looking to get better in all aspects of my game. Better in pick-and-roll and making reads. More efficient shooter and scorer. Better finisher. Get stronger. I want to win a championship.