TAMPA — Attracting the attention of college scouts is a formidable task for basketball players at Pasco schools. So Ridgewood High's Adam Ibrahim is doing everything he can to be noticed at an early stage.
The freshman guard attended the Top Notch Talent combine held recently at Harbour Island Athletic Club. Pasco-based speed coach Rob Oppedisano organized the event, using drills that showcase the skills that coaches want to see.
The players' statistics from Saturday's combine — which included a 20-yard dash, vertical jump, five cone star test, dribbling maze and shooting maze — will be sent to college coaches. If a coach expresses interest, Oppedisano will send video footage.
"I wouldn't mind going somewhere close to my home here, but I want to get my name out there and maybe one day play for a school like Illinois," said Ibrahim, a Chicago native. "I think this combine can help me do that. He (Oppedisano) knows what he's talking about."
Oppedisano was Ibrahim's gym instructor at Chasco Middle School. When the combine was announced, Ibrahim saw it as an opportunity to gain more than just potential exposure.
"He started working with me in eighth grade and since then he's been helping me a lot," Ibrahim said. "I've been making the transition from forward to guard so he's been making that easier for me. I learn a lot faster from him because his teaching style is more about you learning while you play than him yelling at you. I'm learning things about my game that I didn't know before coming here."
Oppedisano is an assistant basketball coach at Pasco-Hernando Community College and hosts sports clinics in a variety of areas, including speed training, pitching mechanics, golf conditioning, and strength and conditioning for all sports.
About 20 players attended Saturday's clinic, at a cost of $100 apiece.
The combine for high school-age kids was only one part of the event. A second combine was held for college players and others seeking exposure to semi-pro or overseas leagues.
"I know what coaches want to see from years of being a coach," Oppedisano said. "You look at the talent out here and it's good, but most of these players are like Adam (Ibrahim) and are from smaller schools, either a junior college or high school, where they might not attract much attention. By doing this, you can show coaches more of a player so it gives him a better chance at getting the attention from coaches at the next level."
The sessions with Oppedisano teach athletes about themselves and the game at the same time. Trinity College player Terrence Quinn, 21, made the trip to downtown Tampa not to participate in the combine, but to help stage it.
"One of my coaches, Bobby Bowman, told me about this and I thought I'd help out," Quinn said. "I think it went good. These kids come in and Rob (Oppedisano) helps them get back to proper fundamentals, which can help them take the next step in their game."
David Rice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.