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March 28, 2011Ross Travis, Penn State's 6-foot-7, 210 pound class of 2011 signee, likes to run the floor.
So does Tim Frazier.
Having watched Frazier help direct the Nittany Lions to their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2001 this March, the small forward out of Chaska, Minn., says he can't wait to join Frazier on the floor for some up-tempo basketball.
"Watching Tim Frazier playing, I immediately recognized the quickness that he has right off the bat when he gets that rebound and just goes up and down the floor," Travis says. "I think that we'll probably be getting a lot of fast break points with that speed of his. Whoever gets the rebound, me or him and just releasing and going right away, running all the lanes and getting those quick transition points.
"Every time I watch him, I get excited. I can't wait to play with him because of his quickness."
Struggling through injuries from his 15th birthday up until this season, Travis finally went injury-free this season and capitalized, playing uninhibited basketball en route to average a double-double (17 points, 17 rebounds he estimates) in both points and rebounds down the stretch his senior year.
He helped lead his Chaska High School squad to the Section 2 Finals before finally bowing out to Eden Prarie in a 67-57 loss.
NBA veteran and Minneapolis-based AAU 43 Hoops coach Chris Carr says Travis blossomed this past season.
"This year, he's finally fully healthy and getting the opportunity to kind of show people what his abilities will be," Carr says. "He'd be even further along had he not had some injuries early on. It's not so much that Penn State was able to swoop in, it's just that it's a great school, a great academic institution and they're starting to make a buzz in college basketball, which I hope that he'll get an opportunity to come in and be a part of early on."
Are the injuries a cause for concern? More than a year removed from injuries of any consequence, Carr says not anymore.
"Sitting here today, I would say he is much healthier and much stronger. He grew so fast that kind of aided in that process, but I would say from a risk of injury, it's lessened itself dramatically to probably 10 percent or less," he says. "I fully expect him to be healthy and strong and come in ready to rock and roll."
Comparing his game to that of departing Penn State senior Jeff Brooks, Travis is working on his perimeter game right now, but is most comfortable scoring in transition and anywhere around the basket.
Offensively, he's got a solid foothold, but is still a work-in-progress, Carr says.
"I think his skillset and his athleticism combined are the two things that make him a highly sought-after recruit. He's 6-7, long, really athletic, handles the ball well in the open floor and is a really good passer," Carr says. "He's a fierce competitor, so from that standpoint, I think defensively he'll be fine when he steps on the court at the Division I level and that will probably initially be what gets him on the floor as a freshman will be his defensive prowess and will to compete. Offensively, he's going to need to develop some things, but that's with anybody."
Continuing, Carr says he has enjoyed coaching a player with the defensive attentiveness of Travis.
"He takes pride in stopping people, which is fun. He doesn't want to give up layups, doesn't want to give up easy shots, and he'll get out and guard," he said. "That's what really kind of separates him from a lot of kids his age. There are a lot of kids his age that offensively are relatively gifted.
"He may be an eighth of an inch away from them offensively in terms of being able to shoot the three ball and things like that, but he's a capable shooter and scores well in the paint. He scores well shooting the ball off the bounce. So, in terms of having somewhere you need to improve, offensively is always an area that you can get better, and he's willing and wanting to work at it. But, defensively, I think that he's definitely on par with what Penn State has to offer. Defending one through four, I think he'll do very, very well."
His character appears to be on par with Penn State's ideal, too.
When asked to describe what kind of a kid Travis is, Carr immediately pointed to his son Cameron's relationship with the future Penn Stater.
"He's great with my son, and that's kind of my gauge from a character standpoint is how well a guy will interact with my family, my children, and my son literally says that 'I want to be like Ross.' So, that to me is the true measure of the type of person that Ross is," Carr says. "He's an awesome young man. He has some great interests in a bunch of different things. He loves music and he actually does some music production stuff.
"But, more importantly, man, he's just an awesome kid."
Travis will enroll at Penn State this June for the second summer session.
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