Cunliffe raves about ASU visit

Versatile 2016 guard Sam Cunliffe earned rave reviews at a prestigious All-American camp last weekend and a day later stopped in Tempe to see Arizona State.

Fresh off his Top-30 game selection in last weekend's Pangos All-American Camp, Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach High guard Sam Cunliffe visited Arizona State, a program that has resonated in his recruitment.

Now the Sun Devils are the certified front-runner for Cunliffe, who is fast-rising among 2016 prospects in the West.

"It definitely puts them at the top right now," Cunliffe said a day after the visit.

"I saw the facilities and I was like, 'alright. This is obviously as good as there is in the country.' I've been to North Carolina, I've been to Duke. I haven't seen better facilities, most places aren't close honestly."

But what really set the Sun Devils in a good position in the recruitment, according to the versatile 6-foot-6 athlete, is the relationships he's forging with the program's staff and other personnel.

"The main thing that stood out is coach (Bobby) Hurley is like a player," Cunliffe said. "He's like one of your friends but a coach. He can still play, he moves like a player. He was on the court playing defense when he was teaching them in their workout. He was out there shooting around, just really involved. It's not like he's just having his assistants doing the workouts, he was out there on the court.

"We were all just having a good time, cracking jokes. It was real natural. I can't really see much topping it, the more I think about."

Cunliffe was joined in Tempe by another unofficial 2016 visitor, Top-50 national recruit Mario Kegler, a 6-foot-7 small forward from Mississippi who preps at Arlington County Day in Jacksonville, Fla., and the two have become fast friends after hanging out at the Pangos All-American Camp.

"Me and Mario, we just kind of hit it off really nice, like we had been friends forever," Cunliffe said. "We were hanging out the whole time, laughing, joking, in the gym just messing around. I've never shouted anyone out on Instagram but we both did that. It's hard to not think about what would happen if we were on the same team, it could be pretty ridiculous. Both tall, long guards who can pass, shoot, dribble. That's pretty deadly."

Hurley made an effort to demonstrate how he'd use Cunliffe and Kegler on the court in his offensive system and that led Cunliffe to conclude it would be a good fit for his personality as well as his style of play.

"He brought me and Mario into a room and showed us film of how he let his players play in Buffalo and that was big because it was exactly how I like to play, which is free with some structure so you can't go all crazy, but it was special how he let them play loose and it was okay to make some mistakes. It was big time, I really liked it a lot."

Cunliffe said he and Kegler went as far as to broach the subject of possibly playing together in college at ASU. Cunliffe would like to at least visit Cal before making a determination, and could elect to play through the July evaluation period before doing so. He said UNLV just offered a scholarship Monday and Duke coaches are now talking with his AAU coaches and starting to recruit him.


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