PHILADELPHIA — When New York Panthers director Gary Charles informed Ryan Rhoomes he was a late invitee to the Reebok All-American Camp at Philadelphia University, he was expecting a positive reaction. At least a smile.
Rhoomes didn’t react.
“I didn’t know what it was,” the 6-foot-8 power forward said.
When told it was a showcase for the top prospects in the nation in front of hundreds of Division I college coaches, the rising senior responded accordingly.
“How did I get in iti” he asked, a smile splashed across his face. His mother, Aretha, just said “Oh my God,” repeatedly when the news was relayed to her.
Rhoomes has hardly seemed star struck. Wednesday afternoon, he had 16 points in seven rebounds, helping his Jamal Crawford team to an 89-70 victory over Allen Iverson, the latest solid effort in a solid camp. He finished in the paint and made a few aggressive moves to the basket. Rhoomes said his Panthers teammates Sterling Gibbs and J.J. Moore have helped ease his nerves.
“It brings my confidence up,” he said. “It shows I can play with these types of players. My game has gotten better. I’ve accomplished a lot the last year.”
That would be an understatement. Rhoomes transferred from Middletown South (N.Y.) to Cardozo in hopes of increasing his profile. He led the Judges to the Queens AA crown. He joined the Panthers AAU club shortly thereafter, providing an immediate spark in the paint.
“For him, this is big,” Charles said. “Ryan is still only 16. A few months ago, this was a young man nobody knew about.”
Rhoomes was initially set to attend the Hoop Group Elite Camp at Albright College in Reading, Penn. Charles was contacted by camp director Gary DeCesare that they were in need of big men. He immediately thought of Rhoomes, who needed such experience.
“He didn’t say do I need someone, but do I have someone,” Charles said.
Rhoomes has attracted several Division I schools of late, from St. John’s to Drexel to Rhode Island and Temple, the last two, Charles said, becoming interested this week. Talent evaluator Tom Konchalski said he sees Rhoomes as a Division I player at some level; how high, at this point, is uncertain. He is only now getting used to playing at a high level against others his size.
His mere presence in Philadelphia was a confidence boost, Rhoomes said. When he looked into the stands, he saw coaches like John Calipari (Kentucky), Jay Wright (Villanova) and Jim Calhoun (Connecticut). Rhoomes said he became nervous at times, but also prideful, for how far he has come in the last year.
“I know if I was still in Middletown,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here.”
©2009 Community News Group
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