Old-school game taking Latrobe’s Emma Blair places

Monday, July 18, 2022 | 4:53 PM

Latrobe’s Emma Blair makes old-school post players proud every time she touches the basketball.

And, despite the ever-changing nature of the game, where more traditional “bigs” are being asked to do more away from the rim than under it, college coaches are taking notice.

Size and back-to-the-basket ability still mean something.

Blair, a 6-foot-1 forward/center who will be a senior, is attracting college attention while playing for the Western PA Bruins 17U National Team this summer on the AAU circuit.

Her game has been on display during the NCAA’s “live period,” and her arrow is pointing up with one high school season remaining.

While Blair wants to develop a mid-range game, her ability to score inside and rebound carries plenty of value.

“Multiple college coaches have told me that Emma is the best rebound outlet forward they have seen in a while.” Bruins coach Brian Murray said. “She has expanded her (shooting) range to 17 feet. She is very fast getting 84 feet from block to block. She has worked with multiple skills coaches including coach (Cornelious) Nesbit from Shaler on her old-time post moves.”

South Carolina Upstate, a Division I program in Valley Falls, S.C., offered a scholarship to Blair, the reigning Tribune-Review Westmoreland Player of the Year.

She recently had a game in AAU where she scored 27 points and grabbed 24 rebounds.

She had a 20-20 game last high school season.

Blair also has developed a knack for delivering crisp passes to shooting guards. That was commonplace for her last season at Latrobe. She kept possessions alive with a low-turnover rate and was tenacious on the defensive glass.

Even is AAU, where 3-pointers and fast breaks sell tickets, Blair grinds on the low block like Patrick Ewing at Georgetown.

“The Bruins value the post,” Murray said. “Our director, John Tate, who played forward for John Calipari at UMass, instills a philosophy to his coaches to play tough and utilize the post, and not just pick-and-roll but a true post-up player.

“Emma’s ability to pass to a relocating shooter after entry makes her valuable.”

Blair said she has been busy with Bruins’ practices and tournaments, while also playing in an outdoor league and attending college camps.

“I have been practicing a lot to continue to develop my game,” she said. “My Bruins coaches have helped me a lot with this process. I love being a post and my role on the floor, so I will definitely continue to focus on my old-school post game.”

Coaches in the Division II PSAC also covet Blair’s game. She has an offer from Seton Hill.

Other Division I schools also are interested.

Blair averaged 13.6 points and 12.5 rebounds for Latrobe last winter, and shot 56% from the field.

“She continues work on her jump hook, but she worked hard on her free-throw shooting,” Murray said. “Everyone wants Shaq until they have to go to the line. Emma is over 85% this spring from the line. Her best quality is she is a good teammate. Since she shares the ball, her teammates get it into to her more than most teams. Plus, we run many designed sets for shooters and to get clean looks for Emma in the paint. She has embraced this role.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.


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