- Paul Biancardi, Basketball Recruiting
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LeBryan Nash (Dallas, Texas/Lincoln), the No. 10-ranked player in the country, committed to Oklahoma State and coach Travis Ford on Thursday. From the moment Nash stepped on campus in Stillwater he fell in love.
"It is such a beautiful campus and the fan support is unreal," said Nash, who picked the Cowboys over Kansas and Baylor. "Everywhere I went the students knew who I was."
The 6-foot-7, 230-pound small forward is the most physically gifted player in the 2011 class. What sets him apart from his peers is his combination of power and athleticism, making him a difficult matchup for opponents. Nash is fearless attacking the rim and has the ability to explode through contact and make the play. Over the years he has also developed his perimeter skills and is now more consistent out to the 3-point arc and is a sound decision-maker utilizing ball screens.
Defensively, he is fast enough to chase shooting guards off screening action, making it difficult for them to see the rim. He is powerful and tough enough to front the low post and bang with players who are bigger than him. Plus, Nash could really be a factor on the glass because he snatches balls away from others with his leaping ability and strong hands.
There is room for growth in every player and Nash will be quick to tell you that he needs to focus more during games and not have a bad reaction when he is frustrated with himself, teammates or his coach. He is working on being a leader and needs to mature and continue to round out his game. However, his size, toughness and skill level are unquestionable.
He will have a chance to be an impact player right away in Oklahoma State's run-and-gun style offense. Ford wants to push the ball with speed and look for open layups or open 3s when converting from defense to offense. In the half-court set you could see Nash with the ball in his hands using pick-and-roll action or creating for himself or his teammates. When he is playing off the ball, Nash can spot up on the perimeter, beat defenses with the blow-by dribble or post up and punish opponents inside.
Nash is a huge piece to the puzzle for Ford next season, when it comes to scoring points.
Paul Biancardi, who has been a head coach and assistant on NCAA tournament teams, is the national director of basketball recruiting. He is also one the voters for McDonald's All-American Game and Gatorade Player of the Year. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.