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Classic brings in plenty of Division I talent each year

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Joel Embiid played his first organized basketball game in January.

Now, the 6-foot-11 forward will join the Kansas Jayhawks next fall on a full-ride athletic scholarship.

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How is that possible? Just ask anyone in Mitchell who attended the Mike Miller Classic.

Embiid plays for The Rock, a high school in Gainesville, Fla., and led his team with 27 points Thursday night and 15 points Friday night.

The senior is ranked 38th as a recruit for the class of 2013 on rivals.com, but worked hard to get to where he is today.

Embiid played volleyball for roughly five years in his native country of Cameroon before moving the United States last October to play basketball.

He played at Montverde High School for the remainder of last season and transferred to The Rock to play this season.

"I wanted more playing time to get the experience I needed to play in college," Embiid said about transferring to play under head coach Justin Harden.

"Now, I'm just working hard to improve my skills to be ready to play at Kansas."

Embiid also received offers from top NCAA Division I programs at Florida, Marquette, Texas, Virginia and an assortment of others.

Another top recruit showcased at the Mike Miller Classic is DeLaSalle's Reid Travis.

Travis scored 34 points in Friday's game against Our Savior New American.

The junior forward averages 30 points per game for DeLaSalle and earns all that he gets.

"He's an extremely hard worker," DeLaSalle head coach Dave Thorson said.

Before the team got on the bus to head to the University of Sioux Falls for a practice session Thursday, Travis was tirelessly working on his game at 7 a.m., according to Thorson.

Travis also has a 3.9 grade point average at a school where 99 percent of its graduates go on to college.

"He's the kind of young man that represents our program," Thorson said. "He is really a good kid to work with."

Travis has countless NCAA Division I offers, including Butler, Minnesota, Purdue and Creighton. He has not yet committed to a school.

Our Savior New American's 6-foot-9 forward/center Cheick Diallo is another player who moved to the U.S. from Africa.

The Mali native moved when he was 15 years old to follow his goal of playing at a good college and eventually the National Basketball Association.

"I have to work hard to catch up to the best players in America," Diallo said.

Well, his work is paying off.

As a sophomore, Diallo already has offers from Kentucky, St. John's and Arizona, and he has yet to commit to a school.

Diallo scored 10 points in Our Savior New American's 72-61 win over The Rock. He finished with 25 points in a loss to DeLaSalle Friday.

Along with Embiid, Travis and Diallo, many other players in the classic have received offers to play at the collegiate level. DeLaSalle's Jarvis Johnson, a junior guard, has seven offers from Division I schools including Creighton and Iowa State. La Lumiere's Detrick Mostella, a 6-foot-3 guard, committed to play at Oklahoma State next year. Along with many out-of-state players, Pierre's Zach Hanson has signed at Creighton, a Division I school. The Rock has 10 players, including Embiid, who are being recruited to play collegiately.

Here is a list of former Mike Miller Classic players who earned Division I college scholarships:

Andre Hollins-White Station High School-Memphis, TN- University of Minnesota; Andre Applewhite II-Central High School-Memphis, TN-Mississippi State; Nick Johnson-Findlay Prep-Las Vegas, NV-Arizona Pac-12 All-Freshman Team; Myck Kabongo-Findlay Prep-Las Vegas, NV-Texas Big-12 All-Freshman Team; Anthony Bennett-Findlay Prep-Las Vegas, NV-UNLV; Dominic Artis-Findlay Prep-Las Vegas, NV-Oregon; Winston Shepard-Findlay Prep-Las Vegas, NV-San Diego State; Amedeo Della Valle-Findlay Prep-Las Vegas, NV- Ohio State; Amir Garrett-Findlay Prep-Las Vegas, NV-St. Johns; Brandon Ashley-Findlay Prep-Las Vegas, NV-Arizona; Matt Willms-Findlay Prep-Las Vegas, NV-UTEP; Cedrick Lang-Sioux Falls O'gorman-Sioux Falls, SD-UTEP; Kevin Kaspar-Findlay Prep-Las Vegas, NV-Western Kentucky; Nazareth Long-Findlay Prep-Las Vegas, NV-Iowa State; Jay Simpson-La Lumiere School-La Porte, IN-Purdue; Raphael Davis-La Lumiere School-La Porte, IN-Purdue; Hanner Parea-La Lumiere School-La Porte, IN-Indiana; Antonio Drummond-La Lumiere School-La Porte,IN-Southern Illinois University; Obij Aget-La Lumiere School-La Porte, IN-University of New Mexico; Josh Jones-Central High School-Memphis, TN-Richmond; Nino Johnson-White Station High School-Memphis, TN-Southeast Missouri State; Austin Nichols-Briarcrest Christian School-Memphis, TN-Undecided (ESPN Top 10 Class of 2013); S.J. Tuohy-Briarcrest Christian School-Memphis, TN-Loyola.

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Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.
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