by Shelby Hodges, lead intern
Most top prospects have schools from many different conferences bidding for their talents, but for Keller High School guard, Ruben “R. J.” Nembhard, Big 12 programs have been showing him the most love.
TCU was the first school to offer Nembhard a spot on its roster in early 2014, and since then, he has received interest from other power conference schools including Kansas, Texas A&M and Baylor.
At the end of last month, Nembhard received what was perhaps his biggest offer yet. After a strong showing in the 6A playoffs with Keller, Nembhard received an offer from new Texas coach Shaka Smart. With his quickness and defensive playmaking skills, Nembhard is a perfect match to the style of play Smart hopes to implement at Texas.
“It was a great feeling coming from such a prestigious school,” Nembhard, who is planning to visit the campus this summer, said.
As a high school sophomore, Nembhard still has plenty of time to decide and right now he says is just enjoying the process. He also said he knows the NBA is definitely the end goal, which makes the Big 12 an even better fit for the ambitious player.
The 6’4 guard has attracted these top programs with his slick ball handling skills and fundamental defense, but his athleticism does not apply only to basketball. Nembhard actually was a football star growing up in San Diego, and has only been playing basketball for the past five to six years.
The humble young player, who also has excelled as a perimeter shooter, said he feels his main job is to be a facilitator.
“I just want to make plays, for my teammates and myself,” he said. “Just make things happen all around the court.”
At Keller, Nembhard has brought a lot of attention to a program that has usually been outshined in the North Texas region. This past season, he averaged 12 points and three assists per game, and has become a leader for his teammates.
“Me and my post man are the catalysts for our team, we kind of make everything go,” he said. “And I’ve learned how to work in a system, that you have to stay focused and can’t take any plays off.”
This past weekend, he showed his leadership skills even more with Team Texas at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, Houston tournament. Although the team ended their trip with three losses, Nembhard averaged 15 points, three steals and four assists per game.
During the summer, he said he hopes to improve his defense, jump shot and presence on the boards. With his dad, Ruben Nembhard Sr., as his coach at Team Texas, extra practice opportunities should not be hard to come by.
“It’s been fun playing for him and I take everything he gives me and know that he is doing it to get me to the next level,” he said.
Nembhard will continue to play in the Nike EYBL and also was invited to the Nike Top 100 summer camp, which he said he will attend. He ranks within the top-50 recruits in the nation for his graduating class, but the hard worker said he does not want to be there for long.
“I want to be in the top 3, that’s where I see myself,” he said.